Life, on the Line

Life, on the Line

A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat

Book - 2011
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"One of America's great chefs" ( Vogue ) shares how his drive to cook immaculate food won him international renown-and fueled his miraculous triumph over tongue cancer.

In 2007, chef Grant Achatz seemingly had it made. He had been named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2002, received the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 2003, and in 2005 he and Nick Kokonas opened the conceptually radical restaurant Alinea, which was named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine. Then, positioned firmly in the world's culinary spotlight, Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma-tongue cancer.

The prognosis was grim, and doctors agreed the only course of action was to remove the cancerous tissue, which included his entire tongue. Desperate to preserve his quality of life, Grant undertook an alternative treatment of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. But the choice came at a cost. Skin peeled from the inside of Grant's mouth and throat, he rapidly lost weight, and most alarmingly, he lost his sense of taste. Tapping into the discipline, passion, and focus of being a chef, Grant rarely missed a day of work. He trained his chefs to mimic his palate and learned how to cook with his other senses. As Kokonas was able to attest: The food was never better. Five months later, Grant was declared cancer-free, and just a few months following, he received the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in America Award.

Life, on the Line tells the story of a culinary trailblazer's love affair with cooking, but it is also a book about survival, about nurturing creativity, and about profound friendship. Already much- anticipated by followers of progressive cuisine, Grant and Nick's gripping narrative is filled with stories from the world's most renowned kitchens-The French Laundry, Charlie Trotter's, el Bulli- and sure to expand the audience that made Alinea the number-one selling restaurant cookbook in America last year.

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Publisher: New York, NY : Gotham Books, 2011
ISBN: 9781592406012
Branch Call Number: 641.5 ACH 2011 B 22
Characteristics: x, 390 p. : ill
Additional Contributors: Kokonas, Nick


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amandamonkey Mar 20, 2013

I enjoyed the story, but Chef could've used a ghost writer. It took a while for me to get into it because I found his literary voice to be annoying. I still recommend it if you're a fan.

Jun 24, 2012

Compelling, fun read. This really helped me understand my chef and restaurant owners a little better. The author really seems to have a singular obsession and even cancer couldn't hold him back.

mmwilkes May 22, 2012

I could not in good conscience give this book any more stars. It was highly readable especially if you are either a foodie, a wine drinker or an entrepreneur. However, as a mother, halfway through the book, I realized Grant achieved his success at the expense of his family. They are given the bare minimum mention in the book which I found almost offensive. I'm not a fan of narcissists who achieve at the expense of others around them.

debwalker Jul 29, 2011

An award-winning chef describes how he lost his sense of taste to cancer, a setback that prompted him to discover alternate cooking methods and create his celebrated progressive cuisine.

meggielvdl May 03, 2011

A great read, part biography, part business plan, friendship story, but mostly inspirational. Just wish I could afford to eat at his resturants.

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