He's taken diners to Escoffier's Paris, 1906 and modern Thailand. Now, Chicago Chef Grant Achatz's Next restaurant will take guests on a trip down their own memory lane--with a menu inspired by a Midwestern childhood.
Achatz told Eater Chicago that he was inspired by his own childhood, growing up in St. Clair, Michigan.
"... think St. Clair, Mich., in 1984 and Paw Paw, Mich., in 1987," the chef told Eater. "I think this one lends itself way more than Tour of Thailand did. Now we're really framing it on our experiences as children. That's from the ages of five to 12. They say that 80 percent of your flavor fingerprint is established in that age range. You look at that and you go, well, every Friday night my mom used to make mashed potatoes and meatloaf and every time I have meatloaf, I think of her meatloaf."
The Next crew reportedly scoured eBay and antique shops for vintage lunchboxes, which one course will be served in. Tickets went up for sale after midnight on Tuesday -- and reportedly sold out by 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Achatz and Beran discussed the menu further with Eater Chicago:
Achatz: You come up with the iconic Midwestern things: PBJ, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers. Beyond even that, [Beran] was like "One of the things I think about in childhood is licking something directly off a beater that you made chocolate chip cookies with."
Beran: Sneaking something like, when your dad finishes his cocktail and you steal that olive. It's also about the sense of wonder or discovery. When you're little everything is giant and you think, "What's fun when you're little?"
If you didn't snag tickets, not to worry. Next has held some tables that will be available for same-day offers.
Read more about the new menu here. Achatz and Beran also consulted with kids before the menu was finished. Watch the "Childhood Menu Consultation" here, which features Achatz's sons, Keller and Kaden.