As reported in Feast, Grant Achatz has named Dave Beran chef at Next, his revolutionary restaurant coming to the West Loop, and Craig Schoettler to head up Aviary, a kitchen next door that could change the way the world thinks about cocktails.
We caught up with both of these lucky 20-somethings to get the skinny on what could be the biggest steps of their careers.
Four Questions for Dave Beran
Dish: What’s the Alinea experience like?
Dave Beran: Like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Your first six months, it’s like a total overhaul of your personality. It’s not just a job or a place that gives you a paycheck. It’s your life. It’s everything you do. It’s so much further out there than any place I have ever been. People are devoting 14, 15 hours daily to pretty much one goal.
D: What magic do you have in store for us at Next?
DB: We’re working on it. Chef [Grant] and I put in some time on the Paris 1912 menu last night. I think it was the first time that we had really sat down and laid out a format for that menu. It’s exciting. Just looking at that menu on paper, it really starts to take you somewhere. The Alinea experience is meant to take you somewhere, but the Next experience is to walk you down that path.
D: Do you know how many seats Next will have?
DB: The smallest floor plan had 50 [seats], and the largest had 62 or 64. We won’t exceed that. By the time we figure out the final service stations, it will hover between the high 50s and low 60s.
D: What is it going to look like?
DB: In the design meeting we talked about various things, like this idea of bridges and transports—ways to get places. We’ve been throwing out all kinds of obscure ideas. I know that it’s going to be fairly neutral in design, to the point that it’s not going to be a sort of Epcot Center. We’re not going to have French food and put up French posters and dress up like Frenchmen. We won’t have a Viking menu and people walking around with Viking helmets. We’ll let the food speak for itself, and the food will show the time period.
Four Questions for Craig Schoettler
Dish: How did you get picked to helm Aviary?
Craig Schoettler: At Alinea we’ve spent some time taking classical, pre-prohibition cocktails and re-interpreting them into edible bites. I was the one who was responsible for coming up with them and making them. It became part of the menu, and now we give you three edible cocktails to start your meal.
D: Will this be a big part of Aviary?
CS: It won’t be the foundation of Aviary, though it may be offered. Aviary will be all cocktails, with small, seasonal bites that will have a paired cocktail on the list.
D: What will the bar look like? Will it be loungy?
CS: There won’t be a bar—as far as what society’s norm of what a bar is. All the cocktails will be coming out of the kitchen, and the kitchen will be in view of all the guests.
D: Were you a foodie child prodigy?
CS: No. I originally wanted to be a pediatric oncologist.