Before fast food and home delivery, there was chop suey and red leather booths. American Chinese food was a precursor to ubiquitous chain restaurants, democratizing the once-exclusive dining-out experience for working-class whites, African Americans and Jews.
Chicago’s Grant Achatz is not the first chef to make me cry. If you are an emotional person (admittedly I am) and you work long enough in the restaurant industry it is guaranteed to happen. But this was not a result of sleep deprivation or a broken heart or a heated argument in a hot and stressful kitchen environment at the end of a dinner rush about how many large parties we can fit in the dining room on a Thursday night in December.
These tears came while reading Life, On the Line, written by Achatz and his business partner, Nick Kokonas, and published last year by Gotham. There are a lot of chef memoirs out there right now, and I’m trying to get through as many as I can. But this one has stuck with me in a way that few memoirs of any kind have. It had been recommended to me by countless friends and I am going to do you the same courtesy. Continue reading →