Two Windy City icons, the Chicago-style hot dog and Grant Achatz’s Alinea, occupy opposite ends of the culinary spectrum. The dog started as simple sustenance for laborers, and Alinea is a Michelin three-star temple of modernist cuisine. But Achatz has found a way to bridge the gap.
The Chicago dog was fusion long before the term existed. In the early to mid-1900s on Chicago’s Maxwell Street, immigrants sold clothes, dishes, toys, and food to one another in a sprawling open-air market. The mixing of cultures and nearby laborers’ need for cheap meals led to the dog’s creation.
At the time, nearly 80 percent of the country’s beef came from the Union Stock Yards in Chicago, and Jewish merchants worked the Maxwell Street Market, so it makes sense that the German sausage evolved into the Chicago style’s core: an all-beef kosher dog. It’s nestled in a poppy-seed bun (poppy seeds are from Eastern European Jews and the bread from Germans) with yellow mustard (German), relish (English), white onions (pan-European), tomato wedges (Jewish, Greek, and Italian), dill pickle (Germans and Eastern Europeans), sport peppers (Mexican), and a dash of celery salt (celery used to grow plentifully in town).
Of course, Alinea isn’t going to make just any old dog. Since it opened in 2005, Achatz has created one of the world’s most innovative and exciting restaurants, which now stands as the only three-star venue in the Windy City. Always looking to push the boundaries of what is possible in food, he’s done it again with his Chicago dog. He and his team use a rotary evaporator to distill the essence of the dog and its component parts down into one surprising, delightful, crystal-clear bite.
One Robb Report reader will have the exclusive opportunity to experience both versions of the Chicago dog with Achatz. He’ll join you and one friend in Chicago and whisk you through a tour of the city’s best purveyors, from the raucous Wiener’s Circle to the über-traditional Portillo’s to Dog House, where you can try gourmet hot dogs made with alligator, kangaroo, and duck. After the tour, you’ll head to Alinea to see how Achatz creates his take on the Chicago classic, and then you’ll enjoy dinner for two in the restaurant’s gallery.
For details and to purchase the $35,000 package, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.