Get Ready For A Meal of A Lifetime

Grant Achatz's elegant new cookbook

Think of it as like the Rolling Stones in concert with U2. Or De Niro starring with Pacino. In their prime, of course.

In this culinary version, it’s Grant Achatz, chef of Chicago’s molecular gastronomy mecca, Alinea, teaming with his mentor Thomas Keller of the incomparable French Laundry in Yountville and Per Se in New York, for three very special dinners.

Keller, the only American-born chef to possess seven Michelin stars, and Achatz, who survived a harrowing bout with cancer to win the 2008 “Chef of the Year” award by the James Beard Foundation, will cook together Nov. 11 at Per Se, Dec. 2 at Alinea, and Dec. 9 at the French Laundry.

We’re talking 20 — yes, 20 — courses paired with wines. Each chef will prepare 10 alternating courses that reflect their best creations that honor their 12-year friendship, and to celebrate the publication of each of their new cookbooks.

Thomas Keller's new tome on sous vide cooking

Early on in his career, Achatz sent Keller his resume every day for nearly a month until Keller hired him to work at the French Laundry. Achatz quickly distinguished himself, and rose to sous chef, before leaving for Evanston, IL in 2001 to open Trio. Four years later, he opened the highly innovative Alinea. This will mark the first time Achatz will be cooking with Keller since leaving the French Laundry.

Of course, being part of such a singular, sensational meal doesn’t come cheaply. The dinners, each limited to 65 guests, are $1,500 per person, inclusive of food, wine, tax, and gratuity.

Diners will go home with autographed copies of Keller’s new cookbook, “Under Pressure” (Artisan), and Achatz’s new cookbook, “Alinea” (Ten Speed Press). And special guests are expected at each of the events.

For Nov. 11 reservations at Per Se, call Isabelle Brochard at (212) 823-9450; for Dec. 2 reservations at Alinea, call Julie Hyatt at (312) 867-0110; and for Dec. 9 reservations at the French Laundry, call Amali Seneviratne at (707) 754-4175. The dinners begin at 7 p.m.

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  • Sounds mind-bogglingly dreamy – do I lose my foodie cred if I admit it might be too rich for my blood and I won’t be doing everything possible to grab a seat? May have to depend on the reports of the lucky few who attend to satisfy my appetite!

  • I wonder how fast these dinners will sell out? And I wonder if the participants are getting subprime loans to pay for a seat? 😉

  • If it were a charity, it might be worth the price. Inasmuch as it’s in reality an exercise in shameless self-promotion, I’d say it’s a wee bit overpriced. Has it really come to the point where such blatant excess is considered a good thing?

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