There’s only one restaurant in the country that offers only an 18 and 24-course tasting—Alinea
in Chicago. It wasn’t difficult for some to figure that one out. And the chef, Grant Achatz, certainly had a few words of his own to say about the reflections by these bad-boy chefs and in defense of modern cuisine.
“If what I do is pointless, then, what Andoni
[Luis Aduriz] does, what Wylie
[Dufresne] does, what Charlie Trotter does, and what Joan Roca
does, is all pointless. Then what we should do is all shut down—just shut down.” He argues, if it weren’t for these most important restaurants in the world and their chefs—Ferran
[Vongerichten], Joan Roca, Thomas Keller
—cooking would be homogenous. Food would be monotonous….”
Achatz’s rant comes to a close, bringing the entire topic—the role of a chef—into perspective. “To be a responsible chef is to put forth new ideas in a respectful, purposeful, and creative way.”
He certainly made his point; “I feel that there’s room in cooking today that is more than just fish, roasted, on the bone, with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.”
Undeniably, this recent wave of vanguard chefs is challenging traditional conceptions of food and taste. And some chefs feel in order to do so they must dictate the events at every level, from farm-to-table-to-mouth. This is their role as chefs, and it is their responsibility to make us ‘think’ about our food (and how we eat it), in a purposeful way, of course. Nothing wrong with that, right?
That’s probably why there are only a handful of chefs in the world creating experimental cuisine—it’s just not for everybody, especially not the Marcos out there. But it is for some people and open for more to try, at a costly price. Cuisine is becoming more varied, regionally and nationally. Cooking techniques are evolving, as are service pieces, which Achatz calls his own “functional centerpieces.” And diners have more options. In the same way different cuisines exist in tandem, there is room as well for different types of chefs to co-exist, harmoniously—the Marcos, the Grants, and the Alices
, and so on.
There are plenty of those who wouldn’t mind feeling bloated after an exquisite once in a lifetime meal. They might argue that they could just roast fish at home.