Pete Wells, ed of the NYTimes dining section, emailed this morning asking for comment on the relationship between Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz.  He's written a post that has made even me excited about tonight's dinner–and I'm just making stir-fry for the kids in Cleveland.  Wish I were there.  Nick Kokonas told me Grant was bringing eight—eight!—chefs to pull this thing off in per se's exquisite kitchen.  The boxing metaphor in the Diners Journal headline is apt.  Pete, you better post a full report–and bring your point and shoot!

UPDATE: Here's Pete's brief post on the pre-service meeting.

UPDATE: And here service begins. Glad to see Jonathan Benno in action, CDC of per se and one of the authors of the new sous vide book—a chef I really admire; he's such a silent head's down chef you rarely catch a glimpse of him.  And this post also reminds me of ALL the allergies people supposedly have. We're becoming a nation of culinary sissies.


26 Wonderful responses to “Pete Wells In the Kitchen of a Landmark Event: The Per Se/Alinea Dinner Tonight”

  • Pete Wells

    Sorry to say the chefs don’t want me to bring a camera into the kitchen. But we should have some kind of photographic evidence on the blog tomorrow.

  • Dick Black

    I wonder what all the poor people in America are going to eat for dinner tonight ?

    I hope you have good time there Pete.

  • JBL

    I suspect it could be to cover some costs for the Bocuse d’Or team; but, I am probably wrong.

  • Boonie

    damn…someone should probably make a reference to Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader right now…this sounds WAY more interesting than anything being aired on the Food Network in the next six months…

    by the way “Dick,” we had a grilled cheese and baked potato tonight…

    one shouldn’t inadvertantly criticize anyone for their hobbies or interests that involve food…any “foodie” worth their salt has just as much interest in feeding the poor, Prop. 2 in CA, declining seafood population etc…consider this “edible performance art”…would you criticize an “artist” for accepting $100,000 for one painting…how about a ballplayer getting paid $5 million a year?…does Bourdain really deserve that much for each book? (just kidding, Tony)…

    in actuality, Keller and Achatz are probably doing a far more honorable duty: encouraging people to cook and learn about where their food comes from…how animals are slaughtered…and why local is smarter; environmentally, economically and biologically…in the grand scheme of things, this meal sounds like a bargain to me…

    Madrid IOWA

  • oregoncoastgirl

    Politics & guilt inspiring/ laden comments aside (really?!), this sounds like a f*cking wet dream. Mmmmm. Thanks for the fantasy, Chef. I’ll make sure I drop some change in a donation bucket for reading it.

  • joyciel

    The comments left on the news article are kind of infuriating. Even if someone is not eating a $1500 meal doesn’t mean they are going to give it to charity or something =/.

  • ruhlman

    i agree with joyciel–if you get mad at someone who spends that kind of dough on dinner, where is your anger at people who drive expensive cars and where expensive shoes and live in $30 million houses?

  • Maura

    i agree with joyciel–if you get mad at someone who spends that kind of dough on dinner, where is your anger at people who drive expensive cars and where expensive shoes and live in $30 million houses?

    I think the difference is that cars, shoes and houses don’t disappear in a few hours. A $1500 meal is here and gone in a short period of time. They’re not taking into account that this dinner is a rare opportunity and more than just food on the table.

    I wouldn’t pay $1500 for a meal if God’s chef were cooking, but I’m a cheapskate even when I do have money. 🙂 I feel like I should be het up about this, but I just don’t care. I think it’s kind of awesome, in fact.

    This is an experience, and not just a thing. There’s some real substance to this dinner, whereas a pair of Manolos is just a pair of shoes*. If you have the means to do something special, you shouldn’t have to give it up because others can’t. It’s unfair to make assumptions about people attending this dinner. We don’t know what else they do with their money, or whether they do or don’t care about poor people. That someone will pay $1500 for this event says nothing more to me than “they have to money to do it”. Maybe it’s decadent, but I’m a fan of decadence.

    *God knows I love fashion, especially shoes, but there’s not a pair of shoes in the world worth the amount of money you have to pay for Manolos or Jimmy Choos.

  • Natalie Sztern

    For as long as there are people in this world, there will always be a market for luxury for those that can afford it. what is wrong with that, isn’t that the American way?

    Personally, if this dinner was created to support any cause of fundraising and the market accepts it, then congratulations it was sold out.

    These readers have to wake up and realize that if they are chefs or in the trade: the first luxury to go is jewelry, the second is $$$$ and $$$ restaurants, and the third is probably waiting another two years to buy that new car.

  • Rhonda


    I just came across the Per Se/Alinea menu. Pete Wells provides a link to it in his article under the Diners Journal column in the NY times.


  • Derek

    While I don’t agree with them, I think the point the “haters” are trying to make is that in their world view, it is NEVER acceptable to blow $1,500 on a one-shot luxury. I also suspect that they are also upset with people who purchase $100,000 cars or $30,000,000 homes. The fact that they only griped about rich foodies in the article’s comments doesn’t mean they are being hypocritical (the article is about a specific meal, not all luxuries everywhere).

  • redredsteve

    Dick – Pasta for the third night in a row.

    Ruhlman – Where or where can we see some pics of this madness? Please tell me we CAN see pics…?

  • Laurence

    There are always going to be people who climb on their high horse to finger-wag at the way other people spend their own money, be it on cars, houses, vacations, whatever. The funniest of these killjoys do it on-line, with their fancy computers and broadband internet access. Don’t they care about the kids in Africa who can’t surf the web?

    Oh, and last night we ate leftover braised chicken.

  • S. Woody

    The smoked salmon/yuzu/capers combination sounds interesting. I could actually try something with that mix of flavors here at home.

    That’s assuming I can get some yuzu, or yuzu juice. Right now, the local gourmet shoppe has a yuzu-containing bottled ponzu sauce, which isn’t the same thing exactly. But at least the menu has me thinking of flavors.

    (Ponzu is a great foil for roasted beets, by the way.)

  • Mantonat

    Pretty much everything in America is a luxury item. How much is a year’s worth of high-speed internet – $700-$800? Couldn’t you give that money to the poor and hungry? Probably just about everything in your house that’s not a bag of rice would be considered a luxury in most other places in the world. Give what you can when you can, but don’t assume you are better than someone who spends $1500 on a dinner when you don’t know that person and what they do with the rest of their money. Elitism is not enjoying good food or art, it’s judging based on what you perceive as your own superior morals.

  • mirinblue

    Spend what you can afford or feel comfortable with and make choices that please you. Donate as much as you can to charities that touch your heart. When did we begin to feel obligated to judge how others spend money?

    As for me, I will have one of allergies here, thanks! And I will happily spend $1500 to do so, the food may go quickly, but the memories live forever. A once-in-a lifetime opportunity and you want me NOT to take it???

  • Lydia

    That last line about “a nation of culinary sissies” is golden. That’s why I read you. A friend I had dinner with tonight was telling me about going on vacation with a friend who supposedly had all these allergies to gluten etc, and they had to leave a few restaurants that didn’t serve anything guaranteed gluten-free. When he told her he had similar allergies, she said, “What do you do?” He said, “I SUCK IT UP.”

  • Franknwine

    Why “supposedly?” And at $1500 a head the boys damn well better take anybody’s allergies, real or imagined or feigned, into account. Oh, wait, they did seem quite willing to do so…but it’s a problem for you? Hmmm…

  • Lydia

    “Supposedly” because most people I know who say they have allergies, including me, are self-diagnosed. I’ve decided I’m allergic to avocado because the 2 times I’ve eaten it in my life, I threw up. I don’t really want to experiment with it any more.

  • Tags

    Keller always says he puts just enough food in each course to make people wish they had one more bite.

    So maybe tasting menu is a misnomer.

    Teasing menu would be more accurate.

  • Guy Anderson

    So while I saw posts that had nothing to do with the dinner – did I miss the story about what they did as far as menu items?