Leaving a Legendary Restaurant

Pairing wine with food is a vexed process at best, or so it's always seemed to me. There's so much mystification and mumbo-jumbo involved that you're seldom allowed to rely on your own sense of flavor just to think, This goes nicely or, That not so much.

But there goes my wine-speak prejudice! Plenty of sommeliers live on their ability to demystify wine and claim to extend those services to pairing it with food.

Grant Achatz, who makes some of the most complicated food in the country, turns out to have the ability to extend his gift for speaking simply about that food to speaking simply about wine. And, as he reveals in the beginning of a new series on wine and food, he worked at a winery for more than a year while apprenticing at the French Laundry, in the Napa Valley.

His reasoning was simple: if he was learning to cook at the highest level, and learning more about preparing food to professional standards than he'd ever had the chance to, shouldn't he learn winemaking from the bottom up too? As soon as he spells out the reason he quit a great job in what was already a legendary restaurant, it seems clear that every chef de commis up and down California's winemaking belts should do the same.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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