Some people are really fanatical, and it’s awesome.
Take Allen Hemberger, a regular guy who recreated every single recipe from Alinea’s cookbook at home. That’s 107 dishes and 400 components (or sub-recipes), to be exact.
What is Alinea? Grant Achatz’s pioneering restaurant in Chicago, which is regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world. At this temple of molecular gastronomy, Achatz and his team serve whimsical, crazy things like edible helium balloons.
Who is Allen Hemberger? Just a normal guy living in Oakland who’s a visual effects artists by trade and doesn’t have a professional chef background.
How did Hemberger get started? After eating at Alinea in 2008 and having his mind blown, he bought the Alinea cookbook.
“It doesn’t scale anything down, or make it any easier for the home chef. But I was curious about it so I thought I would try one,” he says about the recipes.
Hemberger continues, “And ever since then I just kept going.” He says,
He’s shot 12,000 gorgeous photos of the dishes over the course of the project, and has created a book documenting his journey called The Alinea Project. (Hemberger funded the book through Kickstarter.)
Why would someone buy a boatload of gels, powders, and gums—and spend half a decade toiling away in their kitchen—to recreate extremely complex and complicated recipes? Hemberger explains,
[pullquote]”What they’re doing [at Alinea] is not really about foams and powders. It’s about incorporating emotion as an ingredient in their dishes. When you taste it, there’s something familiar about it: the way my dad used to burn leaves in my backyard as a kid, the way bubblegum tastes from a parade.”[/pullquote]
Watch the video above to see the tenacity, obsession, and determination in action. Plus, find out what Hemberger learned through his five year journey.
Allen Hemberger in the kitchen with chef Grant Achatz