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Jul 25, 2011 09:51 PM

How often does Chef Achatz himself create the tableside dessert at Alinea?

Pretty simple question really...Planning to get a reservation for October soon, and was really hoping to get the big guy to personally make it. I've seen videos of him doing it, but I assume he can't personally make them all.

On a semi-related note, I've heard he also signs menus/the Alinea cookbook for those that bring it. Any experience with this/thoughts on it? I'd love to get both signed, but don't want to waste his time or seem tacky.

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. This information is actually from a conversation with a front of the house personnel. Chef Achatz always tries to cover as many tables as possible. For most nights, he covers them all. Once in a while, when many tables finish at the same time, he can't, so another chef will need to cover for him. Also, in some rare occasions, he mayl not be at Alinea at all (Next's first day of a new menu for example). So my suggestion is that, avoid the first 10 days of October (since this is when the new menu for Next is introduced). Also, pace yourself to make sure that you don't finish at the same time with a lot of people.

    About book signing. Yes, he does sign them if he has time. Most often time, he will make time to sign (and chat with you a bit). I would reserve a late time slot, so that when finish, he is not too busy anymore.

    3 Replies
    1. re: theskinnyduck

      Grant prepared our table's dessert the one time I was there. However, don't get too excited - he's not the most talkative man in the world!

      1. re: aburkavage

        Lol, that does have some truth to it. He is very quiet and focused while preparing the dessert. If you can meet him at the kitchen after the meal, however, he's a nice person to talk to.

      2. re: theskinnyduck

        But don't finish too late -- the first time we dined there, we were slow, and when we were finished, he and the kitchen staff were having a pretty intense meeting as service was done for the night essentially. This was pre-Silpat dessert, though.

        We dined at Next on the very last night of the Paris 1906 Menu, and Chef Achatz was walking in between Next and Aviary all night long (he even held the door open for me once). So the end of a menu at Next is probably no good, either.

      3. Dined there twice, first time about 15 months ago when Grant created the dessert at the table. We were the only people in the room (first floor on the left as you enter) to get this treatment since we had ordered the longer more expensive menu, which came with the Jackson Pollack on silpat. The other tables, who ordered the shorter menu, got dessert on a plate.

        Couple of months ago on the return trip we had a different chef create the dessert for everyone in the room (now there's just one menu so everyone gets it). I asked about Grant and this chef said GA had the sniffles that night and so wasn't doing the desserts.

        So for us 50-50 odds. Wouldn't let it ruin my meal (unlike the guy from NYC a couple months ago) if GA doesn't do the deed.

        Don't expect much chat from him, he's very focussed and intense. A local chef/owner we know had worked with Grant at French Laundry and had done a stage at Alinea and said to tell GA "hi" from him, which we did. Grant just said 'oh ... how's he doing?' and then concentrated on the dessert without another word.

        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

        1. I dined there two weeks ago and the table-side dessert was no longer on the menu.

          8 Replies
          1. re: comereslindo

            can others attest to this as well? is the tableside dessert no longer around?

            1. re: kwa77

              Here's a meal from a few days ago (Saturday). Looks like no more tableside dessert:

              Also Chef Achatz has said he and the Next team will be traveling in Italy for two weeks while Next is closed in October....

              1. re: kathryn

                That is interesting. Since the menu is exactly the same. But the final course (frozen mousse & creme brulee) is served on a plate instead of tableside.

                1. re: kathryn

                  dang, are you kidding me? My res is on Oct 2. The prospect of no Achatz and no tableside sort of makes me want to cancel the res, or at least postpone until GA is back.

                  1. re: kwa77

                    There's no guarantee that the chef-owner of any restaurant will be there on any particular day. The best restaurants are able to provide the same top-quality experience without him/her, without missing a beat.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      yeah, no, i realize that. i was more concerned because id like to cross my fingers on a day when ive got a chance to get him to sign a menu

                      1. re: kwa77

                        I bet if you told the restaurant in advance of your desire, that they might be able to get him to sign a menu for you before or after your meal. It couldn't hurt to ask!

            2. Alinea...No tableside dessert. No chef either on Friday. But they will send you a signed menu in the mail.