Story and photos by guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes:
Standing on Lincoln Center's plaza, well-earned glasses of Champagne in hand, Alinea's dapper crew wears their latest honors well. Alinea, 1723 N. Halsted, took outstanding service - a thing that gives Grant Achatz clear pleasure. Achatz is no stranger to the James Beard Awards, but this time's different.
"It's a great achievement for the front of the house," Achatz says. "Joe [Catterson] and Craig [Sindelar] have been with us since day one - before day one. Joe . . . months before the restaurant opened, helping us plan it and lay it out. He's such a great, detail-oriented service person. More than that, he really makes the restaurant run."
Catterson is Alinea's general manager and wine director; Sindelar's the head sommelier. There are separate roles in the restaurant, but looking at Alinea's winners, it's apparent that this is a team.
Achatz is beaming. "For these guys to get that recognition, it's great." He pauses for half a second and adds, "I love it."