The name Achatz is a familiar one, here in St. Clair County. Bringing up thoughts of wonderful banquets and delicious pies and desserts. Grant Achatz has even more to add to those accolades – and he is still on the sunny side of 40. Achatz’s early culinary career included time spent working in his parents’ Michigan restaurants as a teenager, followed by enrollment in The Culinary Institute of American. He has since earned the distinction of one of the leaders in molecular gastronomyor progressive cuisine. Achatz has won numerous awards, including Best Star Chef of the Year Award” and “Best Chef in the United States”. In 2005, Achatz went out on his own, opening Alinea in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The restaurant is housed in a modest gray brick building which bears no external markings beyond its street number. Inside, the restaurant has no bar, no lobby, and seats just 64 guests. Achatz serves diners a small-course tasting menu running approximately 18 courses. After less than two years of operation, the Mobil Travel Guide bestowed its Five Star Award on Alinea, making Alinea one of just 16 restaurants nationwide to rate five stars for 2007. Alinea continues to hold the number two best restaurant in the U.S. and number 7 throughout the world. In July 23, 2007, Achatz announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth which may have spread to his lymph nodes. Some of his colleagues and friends have expressed worry that radiotherapy or surgery may impair his sense of taste. On December 18, 2007, Achatz announced that he was cancer-free. He credited an aggressive protocol of chemotherapy and radiation administered at the University of Chicago medical Center for driving his cancer into full remission. The treatment regimen, did not require radical invasive surgery on Achatz’ tongue.