Photos of the Day: The Back of the House

Photos of the Day: The Back of the House

Photography by:  Michael Harlan Turkell, NYC

Back of the House is a behind the scenes look at the world of fine dining by photographer Michael Harlan Turkell.  This collection of photographs reveals restaurants’ often unrecognized subcultures; it presents the artistry, diligence, precision and camaraderie that endures throughout the chaos.

The vivacious celebrity chefs who are prominent in today’s pop culture give the impression that their work merely springs from their own energetic imaginations.  In reality, their product is the work of a large team of people whose efforts and skills too often go unrecognized and unappreciated by both gourmands and the general public.  Turkell’s  project celebrates these people’s hard work and captures perfectly the atmosphere of the back of the house.

Chef Grant Achatz of Alinea Restaurant: Emotionally Enhanced Cooking

Slide Show: The Back of the House

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Grant Achatz at the WIRED NextFest: On Making Customers Cry

Grant Achatz at the WIRED NextFest: On Making Customers Cry

The 2008 WIRED NextFest: Millennium Park, Chicago

WIRED NextFest is the premier showcase of the global innovations that are transforming our world. Presently in its fifth year, WIRED’s gallery of the future includes unique and bold exhibits of sustainable design, next generation healthcare, interactive art and games, humanoid robotics and more. WIRED NextFest serves up the experience of provocative, fun, and groundbreaking work of 21st century visionaries.

Grant Atchatz at NextFest: Emotionally Involved Cooking

Restaurateur and renowned chef Grant Achatz is out to change the way you eat. A meal at Chicago’s Alinea restaurant can consist of up to 27 courses, providing a unique dining experience that prompted Gourmet Magazine to name Alinea the Best Restaurant in America in 2006. This year, Achatz won The 2008 James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Award.

A small group of innovative chefs are melding science and haute cuisine, a mashup that’s often called molecular gastronomy. Achatz is one of the chefs who has introduced new kinds of technology to cooking, but he is leery of getting lumped in with the molecular gastronomists. According to Achatz, too often the gastronomists aim primary to evoke a certain emotion, while flavor is secondary. However, for Achatz induced emotion and flavor are combined. Further, “The technology allows us to get to the essence of food,” Achatz says. “It allows you to be more true with flavor, not less true.”

At his cooking presentation at NextFest, Achatz demonstrated why he, and not just his food, is so special. He peppered a seemingly casual cooking demonstration and food tasting with stories about how he evolved his one-taste preparations onto specially-made, sculptural serving utensils that hold heat, cold and flavors just to the chef’s liking. Audience members were impressed by two things about Grant’s presentation. First, even though he is undeniably one of the most inventive chefs in the business, he is as unpretentious as they come.

The other thing that was striking about Grant’s cooking presentation was his story about an early version of a dish, which had him burning leaves throughout the evening in the restaurant. Customers actually cried at the familiar smells of childhood. By engaging all the senses, Grant delivers an unexpectedly emotional experience.

Achatz at NextFest: On Emotionally Involved Cooking

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