Thanks to the continual pestering (well more like gentle reinforcing) by my colleague Liz Beaudry, I finally watched an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix. While I don’t usually watch documentaries on cooking, I was glad I watched this one (thanks Liz). Here is a trailer.
In season 2, episode 1, Chef Grant Achatz of the restaurant Alinea was featured. Chef Achatz is an amazing example of KWR (Knowledgeable Wisdom & Responsibility) fused what appears to be an EIA (Empowering Inspiration & Attraction) restaurant experience. In other words, when it comes to Brand Culture, Alinea’s Core Brand Culture is KWR/EIA: Perfecting Precision through Social Experience.
The KWR Chef
Chef Grant Achatz has taken culinary precision to a whole new level. The KWR’s Core Brand Culture is “Perfecting Precision.” When a KWR runs a business, they take knowledge, information, wisdom and push it to new levels of perfection and precision. When it comes to food, the menu at Alinea combines science and every human sense, including emotion. In his story, Chef Grant Achatz talks about his pursuit of perfection and we can clearly see how precise his craft is. From how to make food float (a completely edible balloon made with sugar filled with helium) and the timing of every course, Chef Achatz is always pushing the boundaries. Another interesting aspect is how food is manipulated, just like information can be. A tomato is made to look like a strawberry and vice versa. Molecular information is manipulated to the delight of every diner.
Another sign of the KWR is how Chef Achatz developed passion for cooking. He was first taught the knowledge, in chemical details, on how food tastes good in which combinations (fries wrapped in pickle if I recall correctly). Once he had the knowledge, his intrinsic motivations were activated.
What is even more impressive is that Chef Achatz refuses to get comfortable with success. Alinea could easily create a “greatest hits” menu, making a pile of money without risk, but he has truly embraced the principle of responsibility. To this culinary master, he believes he has a responsibility to keep perfecting precision. Sometimes this means scrapping the entire menu.
You really have to watch the episode on Netflix to understand. There is a reason the term “molecular gastronomy” is used to describe this food.
The EIA Restaurant
What takes that food to the next level is the restaurant experience. Take a moment and watch this little feature on Chef Grant Achatz.
This is where Chef Grant Achatz has learned the secondary MDNA of EIA. The EIA is all about “Social Experience” when it comes to Core Brand Culture. At Alinea, everything, from the space to plating, is a social experience. They actually put food vapor into a pillow, under the plate, so that when you cut into the food, the pillow releases a scent of nutmeg, just to complete the whole experience. This aroma is meant to evoke memories of social experiences. This is KWR perfecting precision in an EIA social experience delivery.
The Power Combination
Every KWR benefits from an EIA. The KWR uses knowledge and takes responsibility for perfecting precision. But without the EIA to empower, inspire, attract and create a social experience, that KWR knowledge can stay obscure and never benefit the world. In the same way, the EIA can benefit from the KWR in that sense of responsibility, especially when it comes to timing. The KWR can slow the EIA down and make that EIA really think through actions before firing from the hip.
Working together, the KWR and EIA can be a powerhouse. Chef Grant Achatz and Alinea are just examples of this in action in one industry. Imagine the same being applied to others.