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Life on the Line - Grant Achatz

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
Just got done reading "Life on the Line" - what an amazing and inspirational book. I'm sure this belongs in the entertainment sub-forum, but I think it will appeal to the folks that read this one more.
post #2 of 56
I've been curious about that book. Will have to check it out.
post #3 of 56
I skimmed through several parts, but it has some great stories and insights about excelling in customer service (as well as the work involved in their types of kitchens).
post #4 of 56
one of the best books I've ever read. no joke. going to alinea in august.
post #5 of 56
this one might actually be interesting to read.


The last thing the world needs is another pastry chef to discuss their "trials by fire" about the stress of cupcakes.
post #6 of 56
Want to read and probably will but I hope there is not to much med chat.
post #7 of 56
Thread Starter 
The third section of the book is about the medical situation- it's more focused on his emotional state, but the story can't be told without some level of detail of the gravity of the situation and the options he faced. I cried a few times.
post #8 of 56
it's mostly about his upbringing, his career, the opening of alinea, cancer, and rising above the rest. lots of thomas keller dick sucking, but really, it's a phenomenal read.
post #9 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
Want to read and probably will but I hope there is not to much med chat.

nothing cramps my style more than disease talk.

maybe politics. Not that I can distinguish the two.
post #10 of 56
i liked the start of it ... but i found the second half wearing. the sense of entitlement in young chefs just really grates on me. he's got this wife, but he dumps her when somebody better comes along; he's got a great restaurant with an owner who took a chance on him, but he dumps him when something better comes along. and they kept talking about the "shakespearean tragedy" of his tongue cancer ... granted, it's horrible, but i kept wondering how some mom would feel, who could no longer read stories to her kids because of the same disease but didn't have the resources to jump the line in the experimental treatment.
post #11 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodguy View Post
i liked the start of it ... but i found the second half wearing. the sense of entitlement in young chefs just really grates on me. he's got this wife, but he dumps her when somebody better comes along; he's got a great restaurant with an owner who took a chance on him, but he dumps him when something better comes along. and they kept talking about the "shakespearean tragedy" of his tongue cancer ... granted, it's horrible, but i kept wondering how some mom would feel, who could no longer read stories to her kids because of the same disease but didn't have the resources to jump the line in the experimental treatment.
All true. But how many artists or high performing people that come around just a few times in a generation do you know of that don't have major character flaws like that? You take the good with the bad. Most of the most interesting stories (whether they be written or film or in music) are about people with complicated personalities, and frankly they're more interesting than a mother with tongue cancer, who besides her disease is a relatively commonplace individual. It's like when people don't want to listen to Wagner because he hated Jews. To me it doesn't matter. I defy you to name a great artist, philosopher, musician or whatever without at least some measure of narcissism. I haven't read this or any other food books (that I can remember, I might have) so I can't really comment on this particular case.
post #12 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodguy View Post
i liked the start of it ... but i found the second half wearing. the sense of entitlement in young chefs just really grates on me. he's got this wife, but he dumps her when somebody better comes along; he's got a great restaurant with an owner who took a chance on him, but he dumps him when something better comes along. and they kept talking about the "shakespearean tragedy" of his tongue cancer ... granted, it's horrible, but i kept wondering how some mom would feel, who could no longer read stories to her kids because of the same disease but didn't have the resources to jump the line in the experimental treatment.
That's an interesting take on the situation with Henry. Achatz clearly felt remorse, first of all. Second, you could say that grant made him relevant and wealthy for a few years longer in a big way that few others could have done. Yeah, he took a chance... But he made a calculated business risk and he was right. He could have offered achatz a partnership. He didn't. He saw two other chefs make a name at trio (2.5 counting Gand). He knew it was inevitable.
post #13 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by SField View Post
All true. But how many artists or high performing people that come around just a few times in a generation do you know of that don't have major character flaws like that? You take the good with the bad. Most of the most interesting stories (whether they be written or film or in music) are about people with complicated personalities, and frankly they're more interesting than a mother with tongue cancer, who besides her disease is a relatively commonplace individual.

It's like when people don't want to listen to Wagner because he hated Jews. To me it doesn't matter. I defy you to name a great artist, philosopher, musician or whatever without at least some measure of narcissism. I haven't read this or any other food books (that I can remember, I might have) so I can't really comment on this particular case.

i understand where you're coming from, but it's not at all like that. i have eaten his food and the attitudes in the book didn't affect my enjoyment of it one bit. a closer analogy would be if wagner had written an opera about how much he hated the jews. i would feel perfectly happy commenting on that. chefs should be judged on their food. writers should be judged on their words. just as i wouldn't hold the book against him at the table, i'm not going to give him a free ride in print just because he's a good cook.
post #14 of 56
plus (and not to harp on it) ... what i'm most interested in from someone like achatz is how his mind works. that's a really hard thing to get across, but i didn't feel like he even gave it much of a shot. he's a really revolutionary force, but it would have been nice to get one dish talked all the way through ... what i felt like i got instead was a recitation of how he stroked a bunch of journalists and got great press. and i guess, that's one lesson for modern chefs, but probably not the one i would have wished for.
post #15 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodguy View Post
i understand where you're coming from, but it's not at all like that. i have eaten his food and the attitudes in the book didn't affect my enjoyment of it one bit. a closer analogy would be if wagner had written an opera about how much he hated the jews. i would feel perfectly happy commenting on that. chefs should be judged on their food. writers should be judged on their words. just as i wouldn't hold the book against him at the table, i'm not going to give him a free ride in print just because he's a good cook.

Well Wagner was actually an extremely prolific writer so his views on politics and music were very well known.

Was it written by him or ghost written? I know many chefs have had their books ghost written... I've been involved in such a capacity before so I know this to be true. I'm just fairly ambivalent about food writing in general so I don't know if I could read a weepy book about scallops.
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