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  • 05.04.10

Grant Achatz’s Next Restaurant: Dinner and a Movie, Combined

Chicago 2010

Grant Achatz is a superstar. He’s one of the few
chefs, like Ferran Adria of the recently shuttered El Bulli or Wylie
Dufresne of WD-50, for whom the term “molecular gastronomy” seems not so

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much inaccurate as inadequate. His restaurant Alinea has helped make
Chicago one of, if not the most exciting food cities in America, and it
was recently named the seventh
best
restaurant in the world by San Pellegrino
. Add to all that an
amazing life story–Achatz announced in 2007 that he was diagnosed with
cancer of the tongue (he’s now in remission)–and you’ve got a guy
foodies will follow forever.

Foodies (I know, it’s a
fingernails-on-a-blackboard name, but the alternatives are hyphenated
and awkward) are more than just people who love a good meal. They’re
fans, just like sports fans, music fans, and film buffs. They follow
chefs like one follows a band or director, and the opening of a new
restaurant is a bigger deal than any new album or film–many top-name
chefs will have only one or two in a lifetime. So Achatz’s film
trailer teaser for his next restaurant, cleverly named Next Restaurant,
makes perfect sense. It begins “From the creators of Alinea,” and
reservations will be…well, not reservations, exactly. They’ll be
tickets, bought in advance, in full, like you would for a concert, ballgame or movie.

The
trailer for Next Restaurant hit yesterday, and it’s
a bit of a puzzler. It takes you through some classic and some
unexpected times and places, including Paris, 1912; Hong Kong, 2036;
Sicily, 1949; and Cajun, 1977. Turns out Next will be a world cuisine
restaurant, with several different menus per year. From the site’s
FAQ:

Next Restaurant will serve four menus per year from
great moments in culinary history – or the future. Our team of chefs
will investigate, test, refine, and present authentic menu
interpretations from cultures, places and times. Depending on the
cuisine, meals will be 5 to 6 courses and will include food, beverage
pairings, and service.

It’ll also be
startlingly affordable, given the restaurant’s pedigree. An entire prix
fixe will cost between $40 and $75, with wine costing an additional
$25–far less than one might expect.

The movie format of the
trailer works especially well given Achatz’s star power and his food,
which is designed to be as entertaining as it is tasty. Perhaps his
best-known dish, the first bite Alinea ever served, is a play on
the classic PB&J sandwich–“a single peeled grape, still on the
stem, encased in peanut butter and wrapped in paper-thin brioche.” Said
Achatz in an
interview with Chicagoist
:

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We really look at the whole thing as a block of
time. We can cook individual meals or dishes. But for us, we’re trying
to entertain, captivate, insatiate, all of those things combined into
one experience for x amount of time. We have you in the chair
for between two to six hours. What are we doing with that time? Well,
we’re going to try to entertain you.

The movie
trailer isn’t so strange, really. When you hear foodies talk about “the
new Grant Achatz restaurant” in the same way film buffs talk about “the
next Wes Anderson movie,” you get it. It’s an event, a new artistic
project. And I want to see it.

Next will open (hopefully, says the
site’s FAQ) in Fall 2010.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this
post, can be followed on
Twitter, corresponded with via
email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have
to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.

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