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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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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.
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 ›
His story is very well written and makes a very enjoyable read. I teared up a bit several times, from both the lows and the highs.
The events in this book could describe a very successful and complete life if they applied to anyone else, but Chef Achatz comes out at the end only in his mid-30s, with a foundation that will let him achieve whatever he can imagine in the future. While some people may indeed burn out twice as fast by "burning the candle at both ends", Grant Achatz is proof that if you work twice as hard, you may simply achieve twice as much.
Cook's memoirs are a dime-a-dozen these days, but this is a book that transcends the genre and will be enjoyed by everyone.
An easy five stars.
This review is based on the Kindle edition, and from also looking at the physical book in person there are hardly any illustrations in the book so you're not missing anything if you choose to go the Kindle route.
Another reviewer commented about the confusing switch back and forth between the points of view of Grant and his business partner Nick once they meet and start working on the building of Alinea. Pretty much if you see a break in the text then the POV is switching, but you have to read a paragraph or three before you're really sure who is speaking. It would have been much smoother if they had simply inserted the name of whoever was picking up the story each time there was a shift.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really liked the book. The first part was a much faster read for me than the last though.Published 24 days ago by M. James
Inspiring in every sense of the word. Loved this book.Published 1 month ago by Mary Theresa Hallahan
Well written and engaging story of phenomenal success and challenge.
A story of how hard work trumps all. Read more
Interesting from the culinary and the carcinoma perspectives. Grant Achatz chased greatness and chased a cure for his cancer--with a lot of help from a few good friends, including... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Karen Schmitt
This is truly an inspirational read. I would not be surprised if someone made this in to a movie.You do not have to be a foodie to understand the underlying themes here. Read morePublished 5 months ago by William Hampton
This was an interesting book to me. It's not a recipe book, but more about his life.Published 8 months ago by sdodd
Such an awesome story. I can only dream to eat at his restaurant one day.Published 9 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 9 months ago by M. K. Andrews