Friday Food Blogging April 3, 2009Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Food and Drink.
Tags: Alinea, tasting menu, Technorati Tags: Chef Achatz
Via the Atlantic food blog, Chef Achatz at the renowned Alinea in Chicago is a bit, shall we say, authoritarian:
But we want you to experience the adventure we have created, so we offer two progressions of 12 and 27 courses in length, with no choices to be made.
The dictation doesn’t stop with the menu format. Clearly, if we are so adamant about what you should eat, then certainly we have to determine how the courses are sequenced, encourage guests to eat things in a certain order and from a specific orientation, with a specific paired beverage and using specially designed utensils, in a manipulated environment. We have to carefully choose language to describe the food about to be consumed, and even engulf the guests with selected smells to evoke emotion reactions that enhance the overall experience and solidify the vision.
He goes on to explain:
It is rare that in today’s world we give ourselves completely to someone’s idea, and I think this surrender of choice can provide some exciting and rewarding results.
That sounds a bit kinky!
But wanting to introduce some customer choice into the proceedings, he devises a game for one course:
Each guest at a table gets a card with four rows of six words. The rows are defined by characteristics. In the example below, from left to right: Row one is flavor, two is texture, three is emotionally driven [e.g. whimsical, intimidating, comforting etc.], and four is temperature. As a group, the diners have to select one word from each category or row. Once the group has made a decision, they turn in their choices to the waiter. The waiter hands the choices to the kitchen, where we create a dish based on the guests’ four choices. Soon after, the result of their choice–their exercise in limited free will–is served. Or will be.
This sounds like great fun—although demanding on the kitchen.
One of my favorite things to do is try to duplicate recipes from master chefs at home. But for this you must be very, very good.