Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
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Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat


"One of America's great chefs" (Vogue) shares how his drive to cook immaculate food won him international renown-and fueled his miraculous triumph over tongue cancer.

In 2007, chef Grant Achatz seemingly had it made. He had been named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2002, received the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 2003, and in 2005 he and Nick Kokonas opened the conceptually radical restaurant Alinea, which was named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine. Then, positioned firmly in the world's culinary spotlight, Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma-tongue cancer.

The prognosis was grim, and doctors agreed the only course of action was to remove the cancerous tissue, which included his entire tongue. Desperate to preserve his quality of life, Grant undertook an alternative treatment of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. But the choice came at a cost. Skin peeled from the inside of Grant's mouth and throat, he rapidly lost weight, and most alarmingly, he lost his sense of taste. Tapping into the discipline, passion, and focus of being a chef, Grant rarely missed a day of work. He trained his chefs to mimic his palate and learned how to cook with his other senses. As Kokonas was able to attest: The food was never better. Five months later, Grant was declared cancer-free, and just a few months following, he received the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in America Award.

Life, on the Line tells the story of a culinary trailblazer's love affair with cooking, but it is also a book about survival, about nurturing creativity, and about profound friendship. Already much- anticipated by followers of progressive cuisine, Grant and Nick's gripping narrative is filled with stories from the world's most renowned kitchens-The French Laundry, Charlie Trotter's, el Bulli- and sure to expand the audience that made Alinea the number-one selling restaurant cookbook in America last year.

Title:Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:400 pages

    Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat Reviews

  • Paula
    Mar 09, 2017

    Excellent book if you are a foodie and into the best chefs in the world. I'm a big fan of TV shows Top Chef and Top Chefs Masters which bring the best chefs in the US into competition. The shows are v...

  • Kae
    May 17, 2011

    Quite the opposite of a meal at Alinea, there's nothing unexpected here. Unfortunately, this autobiography is a largely uninteresting series of anecdotes connected loosely in a chronology, lacking the...

  • Liz
    Jul 22, 2011

    I have always enjoyed good writing about food, cooking and chefs and picked this up from the library hoping for something similar. Instead, I found a borderline-egomaniacal memoir lacking in real insi...

  • Jacqie
    Jun 28, 2011

    My husband and I are going to Chicago next week. Alas, getting a reservation for Grant Achatz's new restaurant, Next, is about as likely as getting a ride on the space shuttle. So I'll have to be cont...

  • Ms.pegasus
    Jul 10, 2011

    Four eggs, five seconds, hinged open one at a time, no shells. “I flipped both sets over, waited forty-five seconds, and flipped them back. Then I turned them onto the awaiting plates. They were abs...

  • Sarah
    May 30, 2011

    I really loved this book. I agree with my fellow friend-reviewers that the sudden insertions of narrative from the business partner were sort of odd after reading the first two-thirds of the book in A...

  • Happyreader
    Mar 04, 2012

    This is a peculiar book. One part culinary coming of age, one part how to set up a world-class restaurant, complete with detailed investor reports, one part cancer survival story. Five stars for parts...

  • Suman
    Mar 15, 2011

    Achatz and the money-manThis is not so much a book review as random thoughts from a person who would be interested in eating at Alinea.Besides reading the New Yorker article on him and his horrific to...

  • Roberta
    Feb 23, 2011

    If you are interested in teeny tiny food and really huge egos, read Life, on the Line.The first paragraph of the letter that I received with this book says: " At the age of 36, Grant Achatz has alread...

  • Sharon
    Sep 28, 2012

    In his memoir "Kitchen Confidential," Anthony Bourdain witnesses a chef shagging a just-married, obliging bride on top of a 55-gallon drum outside of her wedding reception while her unsuspecting groom...

About Grant Achatz

Grant Achatz

Grant Achatz is the multiple award-winning chef and owner of Alinea in Chicago. He has written for Gourmet and The New York Times Diner’s Journal and is a columnist for The Atlantic’s Food Channel. He lives in Chicago with his girlfriend and two sons, Kaden and Keller.For more information, please see