Skip to main content


By April 3, 2010June 26th, 2016Cooking

I think I have a readership here of like 3 people, all of whom know why I haven’t been posting too much lately. But, because this is a documentary, I should immortalize this moment.

I’m up to my eyeballs in moving boxes, because Sarah and I are moving back to the U.S. for an indeterminate amount of time. We’ll be in San Francisco. Packing is exceptionally unfun in and of itself, but packing for an overseas move is just awful.

For the past two days, I’ve been working my way through an Alinea dish between vacuum-packaging my sweatshirts and carefully bubble-wrapping my Alinea service pieces. The cooking, I hoped, would be sanctuary from the emotional turmoil of this big decision we’ve made (and my wont to second-guess myself constantly). But limited time combined with the fact that half my cooking tools are packed or being sold off made the experience just saddening and frustrating.

In between boxes, Sarah and I check our email compulsively and too-often. Today, while poring through my google reader Shared Items, I noticed my totally rad to the max friend Kris shared a post by someone else working their way through the Alinea cookbook (with a much larger fanbase and much more experience with this whole Julie and Julia-type thing I got going on here).  In poking through this woman’s blog (which, incidentally, I’ve unsubscribed from, because reading her stuff shapes how I do my thing here too much), she re-posted a fascinating commentary by Grant Achatz on the Alinea Mosaic forums.

In reading Chef Achatz’ original post, I felt overwhelmingly-compelled to write him. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this. I even opened up a “new message” window and everything…but then ultimately closed it and went back to packing.


Well, what do I say to this guy? I mean, there are several others doing this exact thing: working their way through his book, blogging about it. There are probably many others who are doing the same but not brain-dumping everything to the world on a blog. And strong as my opinions may be on this post he wrote, my voice would be one in a loud chorus he’s already got flooding his inbox. I don’t really have any specific questions for him yet (a fact that I’m actually proud of; I’m making my way through this book without needing to berate him with questions). So, despite wanting to write him, what do I say?

The thing is, I love this guy’s bit. I mean, this experience is one of the most fruitful and fulfilling endeavors I’ve ever tried. I think Achatz is just so, so talented. And he’s an amazingly thoughtful and articulate writer. I love that. And he embraces new technology, and is laying bare this experiment he’s undertaking with his life and career, and he just seems like a pretty nice dude. That’s the thing: I want to just be this guy’s friend. I want to sit in a pub in Wrigleyville and geek out with him about food the way my friend Francisco and I geek out about photography, or the way my friend Kevin and I geek out about beer,  or the way my friend Christopher and I geek out about Bridson’s papers on flip/pic method particle solvers, or the way my friend Joe and I geek out about making stuff, or the way Sarah and I geek out about art.

But I’m not really sure how the break the ice with that. “Hi there, I’m cooking my way through your book and I’m a huge fan of yours, want to get a beer?”  This is about like Pixar getting a letter saying “Hi there, I love your movies, can I come hang out at your studio for a day?”

It’s the not knowing what to say that sends me back to my packing. And, secretly, there’s some exhilaration from wanting him to find me. I mean, if a comment showed up on this thing that was something like “Hey, you want to boil that thing for 15 minutes AFTER adding the eggs. Otherwise, nice work. — grant” I’d totally lose my mind, exactly the way I did when I got an email from Nick Kokonas several months back.

I keep joking to people that I plan, once I’ve completed this, to make a Blurb book out of this blog/photos and mail a copy to the Alinea offices with a post-it on the front that reads “Hey thanks, that was fun”.

Maybe he’ll sign it “No problem.” and send it back.

In the meantime, though, I’ll keep cooking. I’ll be in Kentucky for a month and a half, and want to do a few recipes so my family can see what this thing is all about. And then I’ll press on from the bay area, where I expect a lot of things to be a hell of a lot easier.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • francisco says:

    on the subject of writing to pixar to say “hey i really like your movies, can i get a tour of your studio?”…. that’s actually not the worst strategy.

    i think you already know about this, but i give you:
    a) the girl that cried watching the wall-e teaser
    b) the recap of her subsequent invitation to the wall-e wrap party based entirely on that video:

    this isn’t to say “look how awesome pixar is”, it’s to point out that even those that seem the most inaccessible aren’t necessarily so. that blurb book is a fantastic idea, btw.


  • Pingback: What’s Next?