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Dishes That Double as Special Effects

At 31, Chef Grant Achatz has already earned his stripes at top eateries. Now he's running his own restaurant.
Petra Mayer, NPR
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At 31, Chef Grant Achatz has already earned his stripes at top eateries. Now he's running his own restaurant.

At a new restaurant in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, the cuisine reflects a fresh culinary trend. Chef Grant Achatz says he doesn't know quite how to label what Alinea does.

For instance, one entree reads: "Bison, beets, blueberries, burning cinnamon." Achatz, 31, describes another dish as a lobster-flavored Cheeto.

He says he wants to create entirely new tastes, and the restaurant reflects a complete aversion to being predictable or dull. The menu, decor and computer-programmed lighting are always changing. New kinds of utensils appear on tables.

Jennifer Ludden paid a visit, and came away thinking of Alinea's fare as "special effects food."

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