Cancer-Beating Achatz Hailed as Top US Chef

34-year-old pushing progressive cuisine at Chicago's Alinea
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2008 10:54 AM CDT
Chef Grant Achatz, center, of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, is congratulated after being named Outstanding Chef at the 2008 James Beard Foundation Awards.   (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)
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(Newser) – Just months after beating a cancer that nearly cost him his sense of taste, Grant Achatz was named America's top chef last night by the James Beard Foundation at the culinary world's equivalent of the Academy Awards. "I look at the award as the point of starting over," said the 34-year-old Achatz, who helms four-star Chicago eatery Alinea.

Achatz, known for his cutting-edge molecular gastronomy, or progressive cuisine, attributes his tenacity to lessons learned during an apprenticeship at the French Laundry in California's Napa Valley, Reuters reports. "That dedication that I took in at that restaurant … it became a part of who I am 12 years later and helped me get through a pretty ridiculous battle."