Life, on the Line

Life, on the Line by Grant Achatz

Book: Life, on the Line by Grant Achatz Read Free Book Online
Authors: Grant Achatz
first one in every morning and the last one to go home. And he cooked!” I explained how rare this seemed, not just at Trotter’s but also at the three-star restaurants in France.
    We made it to Napa in record time, taking turns driving the whole way. My apartment was in decent shape, so we stocked it with groceries, took about ten minutes to put away all of my clothes, and sat down on the couch.
    â€œNow what?” I asked. “Maybe we go to a few wineries? Explore the valley a bit?” I figured this would be my last chance to do that for a while, and my dad had never been out here.
    â€œSure. But you know, I was thinking. After hearing you talk about the Laundry the way you have, I would love to see it. To eat that food. It sounds magical.”
    â€œMan, Dad. I don’t know. I think they’re pretty busy. I wouldn’t really feel comfortable asking for a reservation and actually eating there before I even started working.”
    â€œI understand,” he said. “Let’s head up the valley and see what we see.”
    I felt bad. I certainly had rocky moments with my dad, but both of my parents had been unbelievably supportive of my career. They put me through culinary school, moved me to New York, Grand Rapids, Chicago, and now Napa, and helped me pay my travel and living expenses in each city, allowing me to focus on the work.
    And now, for the first time, my dad expressed an interest in learning more about fine dining and where I would be working. The last thing chef Keller said to me before I left was, “If there’s anything you need at all, just give us a call. We’re here to help.” Chef Keller had known me for a mere two days, but his generosity seemed genuine.
    I contemplated all of this for a few moments and then called the kitchen phone. Chef Keller answered. I explained that my dad had moved me out here, that he spent his life owning and working in a small restaurant in St. Clair, and that he really wanted to see where I was going to work. I sheepishly told him that I felt terrible calling and asking for a favor before I even started, and that while I didn’t expect to get a table, out of respect for my father I had to at least try.
    â€œI’ll call you back in thirty minutes,” chef Keller said. “What’s your number?”
    â€œI don’t have a phone yet, Chef. I’ll have to call you.”
    â€œSure. Understood. Make it an hour then.”
    We sat around for an hour, dozing off a bit from the long drive, then I picked up the phone and called the kitchen again. I felt terribly uncomfortable as I was put on hold for a few minutes before chef Keller picked up. “Grant? You’re all set for seven P.M. See you then.”
    We arrived at the restaurant and found a parking spot on the street right out front. Just like my mom, my dad saw the place and was surprised by how humble it looked. He seemed downright disappointed.
    â€œWait until we get inside the courtyard,” I countered. “The ivy growing on the building is just turning red and the herb gardens are awesome.”
    We walked down the gravel-lined path that led to a lush garden courtyard. The flourishing honeysuckle and rosebushes created a wall around the property, almost hiding the charming stone facade of the building and the view into the serene kitchen. In the center of the courtyard was a baby Meyer lemon tree surrounded by a circular herb garden. The sun cast a golden glow from just over the mountains on the west side of the valley. A few people sat in the far corner of the garden, sipping glasses of champagne.
    â€œWow,” my dad said while looking around. “This is beautiful. Just beautiful.”
    We walked in.
    A statuesque woman with dark hair and large green eyes was standing behind a podium and greeted us in a soft voice. “Welcome to The French Laundry.”
    She simply nodded when I told her the name of the reservation and

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