Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh happy day

December 18

It looks like Grant Achatz is better.

Grant, the chef-owner of Alinea in Chicago, was diagnosed with advanced squamous cell carcinoma in his mouth earlier this year. That’s bad news for anyone, but for a chef — and the chef of one of the most avant-garde restaurants in the country — the implications of anything going wrong with your mouth are horrible.

But here’s a note he just sent out:

It is with a tremendous sense of gratitude and relief that I have successfully completed my course of therapy at the University of Chicago. It was incredibly important to me to remain as engaged as possible at Alinea while receiving treatment, and during that time I only missed 14 services. I continue to stand committed to innovating fine dining long into the future.

At this time I want to thank everyone at Alinea -- the staff, investors, and patrons of the restaurant have offered their unwavering commitment and support in ways large and small. The community of restaurants, chefs, and industry professionals who reached out to us was exceptionally gratifying.

Most of all, I must make special mention of doctors Vokes, Blair, and Haraf at the University of Chicago Medical Center, as well as the countless number of medical professionals and support staff there who cared for me. Where other doctors at prominent institutions saw little hope of a normal life, let alone a cure, these doctors saw an opportunity to think differently, preserve my tongue and taste, and maintain a long term high quality of life. Through the use of a new and rigorous Chemotherapy and Radiation protocol, they were able achieve a full remission while ensuring that the use of invasive surgery on my tongue was not needed.


Grant’s a former protégé of Thomas Keller and he seemed to learn more during his stay at El Bulli — the crucible of much of the most experimental cuisine in the world — than most chefs who have spent time there. I’m sure I’m one of many, many people who are delighted by his good health and looking forward to what he’s planning next.

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