Grant Achatz is an American chef and restaurateur often identified as one of the new leaders in molecular gastronomy or modernist cooking. His Chicago restaurant Alinea has won many accolades, and Achatz himself has won numerous awards from prominent culinary institutions and publications.
Achatz's book Alinea showcases exact recipes, grouped by season, from the restaurant kitchen without concessions; the recipes were scaled down to servings of 8, but the measurements are still by weight to assure they remain accurate and repeatable. The recipes do call for some commercial equipment, but the introduction explains how you can pull together home equivalents. It is a cookbook intended to inspire, and to help improve the skills of serious foodies, home cooks, and chefs who are daring enough to try the recipes.
The 600 recipes are relatively easy to use and include a picture of each finished dish. Instead of the traditional ingredients list at the top of the page, Achatz used an interesting approach by positioning the ones needed to make that section of the recipe right next to the instructions. The book is thoughtfully composed to show that any motivated cook can recreate Alinea's dishes at home.
However, if you are a beginning home cook, Alinea is not an everyday, family-type cookbook for learning the basics. This book is a great selection if you like to try new things, attempt to be original. It provides valuable insight into this chef's creative process which whether or not you are making his particular recipe, helps to get your own innovative juices flowing.
If nothing else, Alinea is a gorgeous coffee table quality book with stunning photography that is offered at a reasonable price. However, if you actually give the recipes a shot, it could push your cooking to a whole new level while you enjoy an explosion of flavor and surprise.