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  • Life, on the Line

  • A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
  • Written by: Grant Achatz, Nick Kokonas
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller
  • Length: 12 hrs and 51 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Life, on the Line cover art

Life, on the Line

Written by: Grant Achatz,Nick Kokonas
Narrated by: Johnny Heller
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Publisher's Summary

In 2007, chef Grant Achatz seemingly had it made. He had been named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2002, received the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 2003, and in 2005 he and Nick Kokonas opened the conceptually radical restaurant Alinea, which was named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine. Then, positioned firmly in the world's culinary spotlight, Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma - tongue cancer.

The prognosis was grim, and doctors agreed that the only course of action was to remove the cancerous tissue, which included his entire tongue. Desperate to preserve his quality of life, Grant undertook an alternative treatment of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. But the choice came at a cost. Skin peeled from the inside of Grant's mouth and throat, he rapidly lost weight, and most alarmingly, he lost his sense of taste. Tapping into the discipline, passion, and focus of being a chef, Grant rarely missed a day of work. He trained his chefs to mimic his palate and learned how to cook with his other senses. As Kokonas was able to attest, the food was never better. Five months later, Grant was declared cancer-free, and just a few months following, he received the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in America Award.

Life, on the Line tells the story of a culinary trailblazer's love affair with cooking, but it is also a book about survival, about nurturing creativity, and about profound friendship. Already much-anticipated by followers of progressive cuisine, Grant and Nick's gripping narrative is filled with stories from the world's most renowned kitchens - the French Laundry, Charlie Trotter's, el Bulli - and sure to expand the audience that made Alinea the number-one selling restaurant cookbook in America last year.

©2011 Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas (P)2011 Tantor

What the critics say

"Achatz and Kokonas share an engaging, well-written, and informative description of what it's like to work in commercial kitchens along with the stirring story of Achatz's fight for his life." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about Life, on the Line

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

an exceptional story of inspiration in cuisine

this book will change the lives and outlook of cooks in generations to come. As a huge fan of the world of champion chefs, one always sees it as an unattainable goal simply asking how they did it. to me this was a peek into the answer of that question. Grant & Nick detail their story from Grants birth, to the rise of a talent, to the meeting of a perfect partnership, to the creation of Alinea, ending with a new story of next. The wild emotions of following an idol through his lowest point of life is humbling and eye opening. Thus entire story is written with care and filled me with Awe. thank you.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Couldn’t put it down

Grant is truly an inspiration to anyone in any field. His vision, tenacity and dream is all viable by his hunger for the unusual, the surprise, the wow factor. I was truly astonished that he continued to work during his treatments and ill health but I think that’s what makes him so extraordinary. Nick is such a wonderful, empathetic friend….not at all an “in your face” partner but more like a loving brother. He is such an intelligent man yet seems so modest. I loved their relationship. And Thomas Keller, well all I can say is Grant had the greatest of fortunes meeting him…..a stellar human being. A wonderful, wonderful audio book. Thank you.

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