what would you get with $1500?
Thanks to a friend’s facebook page, I saw a post on the New York Times’ blog, Diner’s Journal, titled “What You Get For $1500.” The article discusses a special 20-course meal conceived and prepared through a joint effort by uber-chefs Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz, to be served at Keller’s Per Se in New York.
Now I’ll admit, I have enormous respect for both men… Keller is a legend and Achatz is a legend-in-the-making. Keller’s French Laundry cookbook is among my favorites (his story of having to kill a rabbit, and subsequently understanding more deeply the preciousness of ingredients and the importance of never wasting resonated with me). Achatz, on the other hand, has had an inspiring battle against cancer… and the meal I once had the opportunity to enjoy at Alinea completely blew me away.
And this menu does have some pretty cool dishes:
BLACK TRUFFLE EXPLOSION Romaine, Parmesan: “Boom. Boom. It’s about the boom,” Mr. Achatz says. “Make sure they close their mouths, or they’re going to hose down the guy sitting next to them.” He’s not kidding… I was almost hit by the broth when Lav didn’t follow those directions.
HOT POTATO COLD POTATO Chive, Butter, Truffle: This was a sensational dish that warped our senses of taste, temperature and smell when we tried it at Alinea.
LAMB Fennel, Pernod, Coffee‐Scented Air: Intriguing.
And I have to admit, the whole idea of the mentor and protege cooking together is pretty sweet.
But $1500 per person for one meal? I’ve been guilty of some excesses in my life (not the least of which was that Alinea meal), but this absolutely floored me. And the dinners were completely sold out. With a waiting list. In this economy. No joke.
I don’t want to pass judgment on this, because I know that I’ve had my share of extravagent expenditures that benefitted no one but myself. But I do want to try to think differently. I find myself asking, what else could you get for $1500? How about 5 sheep, a dairy cow, 10 ducks, 12 chickens, 3 goats and a fishing kit for a needy village in a developing nation? A clean water well for an entire village? Or maybe Thanksgiving dinners for 838 homeless folks? Just a thought.
In Keller’s own words, “Respect for food is a respect for life, for who we are and what we do.”
What would you do with $1500?