I am on the record as skeptical of Modernist Cuisine, and if I could have only one meal in Chicago for the rest of my life, I'd be heading to 53rd and Dorchester, not Alinea. That said, Mariani's review of Mod Cuiz and the Achatz bio is to book reviewing what this is to hockey:
Which brings me back to the much-hyped Grant Achatz, who on the cover of his fatuous new memoir Life, on the Line, stares out at you like a fey Ethan Hawke, stroking his greasy little goatee before cooking your food, while (according to the cover line) he is "Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat." The first part of that line might better read "Chasing pop culture stardom"; the second refers to his horrifying bout with cancer, from which he is, thank God, now recovered; the third line is completely hollow, because Achatz has had no influence on anyone's cooking at all, unless I'm missing scores of young cooks out there hanging limp bacon from silver clotheslines.
When the punch you pull is that you are glad the author did not die of cancer, you are operating in spheres of nastiness beyond the imagination of most mortals. There is a history of beef, but sheesh.