What was one of Grant Achatz’s favorite food experiences?
I have a friend who owns a two-table restaurant — eight people a night — in Tokyo. It’s called Aronia de Takazawa. It’s very similar to Alinea in its creativeness and innovation and the way he looks at food — but through a Japanese filter, so the ingredients are Japanese. I’ve been there four times, but the last two times, he shut down his restaurant to show me around Japan. He wanted to be my ambassador. He knew that in order for me, as an American, to get the best possible experience in his country, he was going to have to show me around and make reservations for me because a lot of restaurants in Japan won’t let Americans in — they won’t unless you speak Japanese. He would literally call them and say, “I’m Yoshi Takazowa. I want to come in, and by the way, I’m bringing a great chef from America. Just so you know, he’s American and doesn’t speak Japanese.”