The Chicago Tribune brings news that Grant Achatz, the 33 year-old Chicago star chef whose Alinea is regarded as one of the very top restaurants in the country, has been diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth.
The treatment for the cancer to save Achatz's life may cost him his sense of taste.
I can think of nothing more cruel to do to a professional whose work is to delight a particular sense than to remove that sense from him. There are examples in the past - Beethoven went deaf and the painters Goya and Monet both eventually went blind.
I had the pleasure of eating at Alinea during its first week open and was wowed by the food and the imagination required to create it. The word is overused, particularly in the food press, but Achatz truly is an artist who designs the entire experience of eating at his restaurant. Achatz, for example designs not only the dishes but the actual dishes - that is the plates and other serving pieces used to present his food to the public, which he specified and helped create with a design firm.
Here's wishing him the best and hoping for a speedy recovery that spares the sense he most needs to continue his work.