Chef Dave Beran

Late one night in 2006, after a kitchen shift at Tru, David Beran took a shot at his dream: cooking with Grant Achatz. “A girl I worked with, her boyfriend was a cook at Alinea, so I knew some people were leaving,” says Beran, 29. What the hell, he thought, and e-mailed his resumé to Alinea at 5 a.m. Five hours later, Achatz called; the rest is history. Now, after nearly five years as a soldier in Alinea’s inspired kitchen army, Beran is the chef at Next (953 W. Fulton Market), where his whole job is history. The concept of Achatz’s time-bending restaurant is probably familiar by now: four menus a year from various moments in time (first up: Paris, 1906). Customers don’t make reservations, they buy tickets. “We’re not re-creating entire time periods or teaching history lessons,” says Beran. “But producing these menus demands an understanding of the political and economic state.” Jeez . . . sounds like homework. But Beran comes from the one restaurant that prepares him for the challenge. “Re-creating an entirely new experience every few months is overwhelming,” says Beran. “But that’s part of my daily routine at Alinea.”


Photograph: Anna Knott