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25 course meal.. Could you handle it?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
i recently read an article on Chef Achatz's restaurant Alinea... now ive heard of 10, 12, 15 course meals but not quite an extensive 25 course extravaganza... i mean if i had the money to shell out id do one of these courses in a second but then again id have to widen my belt a few notches... out of all the menus ive seen along with a chefs personal style or boundaries they are trying to push, i havent seen food sooo.. i wanna say 'wacky' but really outside the box...

i mean who wouldnt want to indulge in Trout Roe, Parsnip, Licorice, Ginger?

Review of Chicago's Alinea - WSJ.com
post #2 of 23
I'm sorry but there's a point where it becomes more about the ego of the Chef than about the food. Just can't wrap my mind around the concept, idea or reason why. Just not the niche nor clientèle I would be searching for with a long-term thought process either. I mean I never thought of myself to be that much of a stick in the mud but then again............maybe I am. To each their own. ;)
post #3 of 23
veteran of 32 course sci fi meal at Atlantico mini bar in Wash DC......one of the courses was an atomizer of mojito....bites over 2 hours. was not overly full at the end of the evening. It expanded my mind man.....it was about $85 something like 3-4 years ago....I'm sure there's a thread on it in the archives.
Awwwww comeon, oldschool....let um play with the food, it's fun.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #4 of 23
Well...... maybe I appeared to sound like I didn't appreciate or respect the effort and flair for the artfulness of presentations. ;) So.............. just to set the record straight............. that's not the case. it's just that I've never been able to grasp the concept of "Tall Food" For the most part, I'd like to believe that for me, at the end of the day......t's been about the balance between all aspects of the dish. The presentation, smell, taste, texture and temperature. I'm just cut from the mold that way. Maybe more mainstream than I'd like to admit but then again maybe just a bit "outside the box". Not too safe but knowing or practicing some restraint. Yes! I would have to agree from a purely artistic standpoint that Chef Achatz's work is nothing less than amazing. I've never experienced its taste so I can't comment otherwise. Yet it seems during the times that I have taken a stop to "smell (or taste)the roses" over my 30+ years of industry exposure, food that looks like this, often doesn't compare in taste. But that's me.

Yes food has to look good but if it looks better than it tastes, then it does no one justice, especially the patrons. I guess that's one of the reasons it took me so long to come around on Mexican dishes when I was younger. It looked like..........on a plate. That may be the other end of things (so to speak:lol:) but it's the best example I can make right now.:smiles:

Anyhow.....I can respect the talent but I still don't grasp some of the nuances for the why. I seem to find myself more "grounded" in the root or core ideals of cooking. It's just where I find myself at this point in time so I guess you could have to say I live up to my user-name. ;):D
post #5 of 23
25 courses is alot yes, but keep it mind the portions are all very small.. like one piece of bacon on a wire small. Not saying its not creative or innovative but you wont need the maternity pants there.
post #6 of 23
it's different......absolutely not something I'd want on a regular basis but it was fun and for many of the courses a WOOOOWWWW......
you know me oldschool, I'm the one who gets a great ingrediant and does very little to it (most of the time).....it's fun to see someone's new twist.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #7 of 23
Actually Mezzaluna and I and our spouses went to Alinea about 8 weeks after it had opened and had the 12 course meal. It was a looooooooooooooong dining experience at 4 hours we started at 6:00 pm (an early reservation in my opinion) and got the check around 10:00 pm.

After awhile you lose count of the courses, start to forget what course 7 was etc etc. 25 is just over the top but, it would give you a chance to try all of Grants nifty food tricks.
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Nicko 
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All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #8 of 23
was there an intermission?
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 23
No actually I don't remember there being an intermission. The courses were spaced apart pretty well actually which added to the length of the experience but no intermission.

I had read several reviews of the 20+ course experience and it did not sound enjoyable to me at all. In many cases the dinners were still at the restaurant at 1:00 am or more due to the extensive amount of courses. I think by 1:00 am I would be exhausted and unable to drive home.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #10 of 23
Shroomgirl, I did the Minibar 16 course about 6 months ago and it was outrageous. Everything was 1 or two bites so at the end I was still comfortable, but 25 is a bit over the top IMO.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
thinking about how long it would take from first to 25th course, they must cut people off from ordering it at a certain time.. i for one would not want to be at a restaurant till 3 am... nor do i want to be cooking 6 different peoples 25 course meals, with each person being on a different course until 3 am...
post #12 of 23
Your basic hard-core kaiseki meal is 9 courses, and often more. By the end, you should be good and full, but not bloated. But you must be able to remember what you ate, in what order, and there is a why to it. What's more, many of the courses are actually several different dishes presented as mutual complements, which makes it more complex.

I don't have a problem with a 25-course meal, or 15, or 35 for that matter. What I want to know is, does the totality make sense as a totality? I've written academic books, and I know that it is more difficult to keep some sort of total coherence the more chapters you add. Eventually you end up with an anthology of essays, not a book. Just so, a meal of 25 courses seems to me in danger of being an anthology of tricks and ideas, not a meal. I've never eaten at Alinea, and would not attempt a judgment -- I just say it's a danger.

As to elaborate and complex presentation, I'll just note that when I ate at Kichisen, a very celebrated Kyo-ryori restaurant in Shimogamo, we were chatting with the chef (you're always served by the chef in small-scale -- i.e. not many people -- kaiseki) and he said he'd visited New York 8 years ago and was confused by the vertical food thing. Why does it all look like that, he wanted to know. We had to laugh: it was fashionable, I guess. He seemed bemused. If it's fashionable, surely that means one kind of dish should be like that, not everything, right? And this from a guy whose presentation is famous throughout Japan!
post #13 of 23
At Minibar everyone sat down at 6:30 and dinner was started at 6:31. It took about 4 hours one seating and there are only 6 seats.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #14 of 23
There was an excellent article written in Chicago magazine by a woman (culinary student I believe) who went and worked at Alinea for a week and talked about how long the days are and how many hours the cooks work.

I agree with you I would not enjoy that type of cooking.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #15 of 23
Certain restaurants that serve meals in courses require that everyone at the table orders the same amount of courses. They wouldn't allow me to order 3 and let my husband order 4.

I wonder though with a 25 course meal if only a motivated chef with ADD would impose that on diners. I think the order of the courses is important and after 7 or 8 courses you're not able to retain the sequence.

How are the 25 courses set up? Are some starters, some main, some desserts, some palette cleansers, what is the sequence and what's the point?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #16 of 23
You can view Alineas menus here:

Alinea - Menus
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #17 of 23
Funny that the Atlantico mini bar, halved the course number from 32 to 16, then doubled the time from 2 hours to 4 hours.

We had 3 staff, two cooks and a waitstaff assigned to just the participants of the dinner.....honestly I don't remember how many the bar would serve 8 maybe....possibly a couple more.

The portions were little....seriously one of the 32 courses was a couple spritzes of mojito from personal atomizers.

What you have to wonder about is the dreaded palate fatige.....
I don't remember having it at the minibar, in all it was very enjoyable experience.....lottts of oooooos and aaaaaahs......numerous ohhhh myyyys.....and several cooooool.... I'd do it again....

Some of the young STL up and coming or at the top of the heep chefs are incorporating bits and pieces of sci fi into their locally sourced menus.
Adds interest, normally does not obsucate (sp?) the prepartion but adds to the dish....juene sa quoi.....dang misspelling in yet another language, where will she stop:eek::D:blush:
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #18 of 23
There were 6 of us at Minibar, and we had 1 server(drinks and changed silver/plates) and 3 guys behind the counter doing the food and serving it to us. It was very casual, a TON OF FUN as all of us were in the business, and for what we got it was a great value. Most of the courses were 1, maybe 2 bites and some of them just dissolved on your tongue. I would definitely do it again, when I am in Chicago this spring I may bo Moto and Alinea.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #19 of 23

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #20 of 23
I've eaten a couple of taster menu dinners at the Fat Duck at Bray (chef Heston Blumenthal) - his have 13 or 14 'courses'.

I've also enjoyed similar number of courses as taster menus in Lisbon, London and Paris.

Can't say it's my favourite way of eating a meal, though!
post #21 of 23
I hear ya shroom. :cool: Never thought any different plus I can agree with the "phun" aspect. Just spouting off I guess. The last couple weeks around here have been mixed between joy and.........well let's just say I've certainly lost more than a step or six when it comes to all things culinary and it's caused me to do some very real and deep soul searching:( I can see the light but since it's so muddled where I'm at......... just can't tell if it's in front or behind me.:look:
post #22 of 23
Interesting concept, though I doubt I'll ever get a chance to partake of the experience. On many occasions I've been to a restaurant, perusing the menu and really wanted to order 'one of each' - 25 courses should pretty much cover it.

For lunch today we went down the street to CLub 48, I had a chicken 'cordon bleu' sandwich and fries, washed down with a mug of beer. Okay, it was friday afternoon, things were slow at the shop, so maybe we had more than 1 mug to soothe our sorrows :beer:

Anyway, I didn't count but I bet it took me on the order of 20 - 25 or so bites to finish that sandwich. But each of those bites was from the same sandwich, over a time span of maybe 25 - 30 minutes. Obviously what one might expect, a reasonable amount of food consumed in a reasonable amount of time.

From a diner's standpoint I can see how 25 courses of a few bites each spread over several hours could be a very satisfying evening, quite different than just a similar number of bites from a single sandwich or entree or whatever.

Were that I was working the kitchen or bussing tables, I'd likely have a different opinion.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #23 of 23
That's exactly how I view these meals--a tasting, not a feeding. It's what I tell friends who bi*&% incessantly about how little and expensive the food was at one place or another, that sometimes it's just about tasting.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
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Necessity is the mother of invention.
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