11/30/2010 04:39 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How Grant Achatz Created Alinea's Fall Menu: A Look Inside

While we're still patting ourselves on the back for pulling off Thanksgiving dinner, Grant Achatz is experimenting with leather as an ingredient and turning black pepper white to figure out if color affects taste. For five years, the mad-scientist chef has been doing everything from liquified caramel popcorn to a dehydrated riff on A.1. Steak Sauce at Alinea in Chicago. Is there any ingredient he won't alter? "White truffles," he says, maybe because he's a three-star Michelin chef as of this month, and there are some things you don't mess with. In the midst of developing a new restaurant and cocktail bar--and finishing his memoir, Life, on the Line--Achatz sat down with to to share his process from sketch to table. Bon appétit.