Welcome to the 2011 SVU Annual Conference Blog
Come join us at the 2011 SVU Annual Conference, held in conjunction with the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) at the 2011 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM). The SVU Annual Conference and the VAM brings vascular technologists/sonographers, vascular physicians, and vascular lab directors to one exhibit hall to experience new technologies, learn the latest scientific research, and network with other vascular ultrasound professionals.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
TIME's 100 Most Influential People: Chicago Chef Grant Achatz, The Man Who Lost His Sense of Taste.
Grant Achatz is one of the most compelling figures in the culinary world today. His restaurant, Alinea, is considered by Restaurant and Gourmet magazines to be the highest rated restaurant in North America and 6th in the world.
Grant is a master of molecular gastronomy, a progressive type of cuisine that uses creative techniques, the latest technology, an exotic mixture of ingredients, theatrical tableware, and plating design that sometimes resembles art more than food.
Grant has said that his dishes are meant to intimidate eaters. In an interview with NPR in March 2011, Grant stated, "Some of the courses served at Alinea are meant to intimidate because, if you think about eating, we do it two, three, four times a day since we're born, basically. And the act of eating — the mechanics of eating — become very monotonous. So literally you're either picking up a fork, a spoon, and you're eating from a plate or bowl with the same motion every time. So if we can break that monotony, then we get you to take notice of the moment, and now you're thinking about the food. It's making you feel a certain way. Then we've won."
Here are some examples of his amazing dishes (yah it's edible):
Pheasant served with shallot, cider gel, and burning oak leaves.
Potato. You're supposed to remove the needle which drops the hot potato into the cold soup.
Grant's rise to fame began when he worked under Thomas Keller for four years at the widely-acclaimed French Laundry in California. In 2001 Grant moved to Chicago and turned a restaurant called Trio into a Mobil Five Star dining powerhouse (only 13 restaurants had that rating at the time). In 2005 Grant opened Alinea and it was instantly recognized as one of the premiere restaurants of the world.
Grant Achatz was at the top of his game. But in 2007, something devastating happened. Grant slowly lost his ability to taste. Soon after it was discovered that he had stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth and that it had metastasized to his neck. Grant met with doctors in New York at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Northwestern University in Chicago and they all had the same conclusion: his only treatment option was 75% removal of his tongue and perhaps his entire jaw in order to save his life. Survival rates after five years of this cancer is less than 50%.
Grant Achatz and Dr. Everett Vokes of the University of Chicago
But Grant decided against it. His fear of permanently losing his ability to taste was greater than his fear of dying. No other doctors would agree to anything other than surgery, that is until Grant met Dr. Everett Vokes (an oncologist) at the University of Chicago. Dr. Vokes proposed conventional chemotherapy and use of a clinical trial drug called Erbitux.
Grant underwent treatment from July to December 2007. Even during his chemotherapy Grant continued to run Alinea and he created amazing dishes even though he could not taste his own creations.
In December of 2007 doctors at University of Chicago announced that Grant was in full remission. Other doctors in charge of his treatment included Dr. Elizabeth Blair, Dr. Ezra Cohen, and Dr. Daniel Haraf. And slowly but surely, Grant eventually recovered his sense of taste.
For an in-depth story of Grant Achatz's ordeal, check out this article from Chicago Magazine:
Chicago is a foodie city where people are guaranteed good food no matter their budget.
But if you have tons of money and you really feel like trying the best rest restaurant in North America and the 6th best in the world, you really should try out Alinea. Grant Achatz has been given a second chance at life and I'd pay top dollar for that.
Oh and on April 21st, 2011 Time magazine announced that Grant Achatz was on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
I love love love talking about food and in the upcoming weeks I'll be talking more about it. Alinea is just a small part of the culinary adventure that is Chicago.
Have a super awesome night!
P.S. Alinea is super busy, so make your reservations NOW!