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Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat Paperback – March 6, 2012
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"100 Million Years of Food" by Stephen Le
A fascinating tour through the evolution of the human diet, and how we can improve our health by understanding our complicated history with food. Learn more
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Top Customer Reviews
Though it sounds cliche, this book transcends genre and audience. For those interested in cooking and the life of a chef, it ranks alongside the works of Michael Ruhlman and Anthony Bourdain as the best in the genre. As a business book, it is a tremendous inspiration for the budding entrepreneur (or for a successful businessperson who is in the midst of doubt) and shows the power of making an audacious goal then driving forward to reach it. Above all it is the story of the extraordinary life of an extraordinary person as he strives to grow, succeed, live, and love. Chef Achatz has shown that he holds himself (and his staff) to the highest standards, and this book does not disappoint in any way. In short, the best book I've read in a very long time. Very highly recommended.
His story is moving, witty, driven, and honest (with a hint of that chef ego that we all know is there). It doesn't pretend to be something it isn't, and opens up a world of food that would otherwise go unilluminated to the general public.
I am thankful for the experience of reading this book. It was a great read.
Oh, and I'm thankful that someone slipped a phonetically-correct definition of Achatz into the book. That did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. After mainly reading about Chef Achatz online, I was grateful for that small formality.
His business partner and friend, Nick Kokonas, shares the narration. Initially I was put off by this style, but I found myself reading one side of the story, then wondering what the other's thoughts were. (This isn't meant to imply that there was conflict between the two men -- they seem to have a wonderful working relationship, which is reflected in their writing about each other.)
I was surprised by how little of the book is actually devoted to Achatz's diagnosis of and treatment for cancer. It opens and closes the book, but the majority of the story is focused on the development of Achatz's career. Fine by me -- in and of itself, it's a hell of a story. He's a determined and inspiring guy. (And Kokonas's support, and the faith he had in Achatz, is inspiring as well.)
When the story does turn to Achatz's illness, there is an incredible intensity to the story. Some of the most difficult passages to read were Kokonas's telling of being at a golf tournament while waiting to hear the results of Achatz's biopsy.
"My third nine-hole match concluded that day at nearly 7:00 P.M. I played remarkably well, considering that I didn't think about golf for a second. The caddie would hand me a club, I would look at the target and hit the ball. I genuinely didn't care. It was a state of golf I had been trying to achieve my whole life: complete dispassion."
I cried my eyes out in parts of this book.Read more ›
For those who love haute cuisine, though, who don't mind their dinner be prepped in something that looks more like a chemist lab than a kitchen, you will likely love restaurants like Alinea.
Regardless of the type of food, A LIFE ON THE LINE is, for the most part, a compelling read. Co-author Grant Achatz has a burning vision of what he wants to do in food, in cooking and in creating a complete dining experience. He works tirelessly to bring this vision to life. Management guru Tom Peters has said that anybody who created anything great was a megalomaniac on a mission. That fits Achatz. The guy burns his candle at both ends as he translates his culinary vision into one of the world's top restaurants.
So, even if you are not "into" this type of food or dining, the story is compelling for the message that you must work hard and relentlessly to achieve something great. Added to the professional challenges is the health crisis that confronted Achatz. He learns that he has cancer of the tongue and must reassess his life's priorities.
Here is where the phrase, "Life on the Line" offers a telling pun. On the one hand, most of the book describes Achatz's life as a line cook and chef. Once he learns of his diagnosis and the grim prognosis, his life literally is on the line as he gives himself over to the rigors of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was an interesting book to me. It's not a recipe book, but more about his life.Published 2 months ago by sdodd
Such an awesome story. I can only dream to eat at his restaurant one day.Published 3 months ago by Erica S.
If you are a foodie, you won't be able put this book down. An amazing autobiography and opportunity to learn about the world of haute cuisine.Published 4 months ago by M. K. Andrews
When I was given this book (paper bound) by a friend, I had just began Culinary School and had also recently been diagnosed with RRMS. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Harrison Graden Sr.
Because it was a biography I kept reading but as far as it being well written....it just wasn't. The book was written by his partner who really believe in Mr. Achatz. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Arizona Steve
I liked it so well, that I bought two to give to my sister and to my niece.Published 7 months ago by ortelio foyo-carbonell
A good read. Inspiring on the mind of a chef. How it started to how great he is as a chef. A must if you are in the culinary arts.Published 8 months ago by cathy
This gripping true story is full of fast-paced action and real life drama. I was completely absorbed from start to finish. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Denver Hawkeye