Best meal of my life: Alinea

I attended last year’s TEDxHonolulu in search of knowledge and inspiration. As part of the interactive conference, we had to fill in the blank to the following statement: “Before I die I want to…”

I picked an experience that had piqued my interest since living in Chicago — to dine at the city’s only three-Michelin star restaurant, Alinea.

I went to Chicago for college to experience life in a bustling and exciting metropolis. Although I graduated with a psychology degree, my love of cooking, catering and dining kept me obsessed with the city’s food scene. Yet, as a poor student, the prospect of eating at the great restaurants seemed like a distant dream. Just before leaving Chicago to return to Hawaii, I promised my good friend, Kyle Duke, that my next trip back would include a visit to the famed Alinea.

I kept my word, and last week, while visiting the Windy City, Kyle and I dined at the renowned restaurant, and I had not only the best meal of my life, but an experience that was fun, interactive, daring and mind blowing. The combined tab for the two of us with wine pairings was $1,000, and it was worth every penny.

Alinea in Chicago

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Chef Grant Achatz is the mad scientist behind Alinea. Known for his successful fight against cancer of the tongue, he's a graduate of Thomas Keller's The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., and the former chef at Chicago's Trio, a restaurant owned by Hank's Haute Dogs owner Henry Adinaya.

His genius defies the boundaries of traditional cooking and he harnesses the science of molecular gastronomy to shock and awe guests. Known for his daring presentations, he engages many of the senses to stimulate the diner in ways never experienced at a dinner table. Throughout the meal, we were bestowed with the sweet smells of smoldering sugar cane, the taste of flavored air and the crackle of liquid nitrogen freezing our dessert.

 
 

Here’s the exciting end to our four-hour dinner: