At three-MICHELIN-starred Alinea in Chicago’s bustling West Loop, “chef Grant Achatz continues to burst with novel ideas at this temple to culinary ingenuity,” state our anonymous troop of inspectors. Founded in 2005 by Achatz and Nick Kokonas, the highly innovative and modernist kitchen is led by executive chef Simon Davies.
“I’ve heard it compared to theater—there’s almost always an element of surprise,” says Devin McKinney, The Alinea Group’s manager of service operations. “We’re on stage every time we open the doors to our guests.”
One of the first people guests will meet upon entering Alinea is Rizqi Soeharsono, assistant general manager extraordinaire. “To Alinea, it’s crucial—he’s really the main point person between the back of house and front of house,” says Davies of his colleague.
Soeharsono landed at The Alinea Group five years ago as an expediter at Next, rising to assistant general manager of Alinea.
“Rizqi is one of the most committed people that I’ve seen here,” says junior sous chef Abigail Olson. “You wouldn’t be able to function without someone in his position.”
“Alinea wouldn’t be much fun if Rizqi wasn’t here,” adds McKinney.
Get to know Alinea’s employee of the month in the video below.
Like a culinary anthropologist, Mehrotra visits relatives in various parts of India, searching out dish after dish.