Gotham Books has acquired rights to chef Grant Achatz’s memoir, Life, On the Line. The deal was for North American rights and was brokered by Pilar Queen and David McCormick of McCormick & Williams. Rachel Holtzman will edit.
Achatz, who cooks at Alinea in Chicago and wrote the cookbook Alinea (Ten Speed Press), which was a big seller last holiday season, began shopping the memoir earlier this month. The proposal made its way to a few food writers, with the New York Times’s Pete Wells calling it “the world’s first gastronomical-oncological coffee table book.” Achatz has an extraordinary story, having fought off a cancerous tumor on his tongue that had spread to his lymph nodes, a formidable challenge for anyone, never mind a James Beard Award-winning chef. The proposal pitched the memoir, co-written with Achatz’s business partner, Nick Kokonas, as part autobio, part art book, integrating Achatz’s medical charts and scans with photos of Alinea’s kitchen and food.
Gotham president and publisher Bill Shinker said, “It’s not just a memoir or a chef’s story—it’s a fascinating look at building a business and at a unique friendship between two incredible individuals. We’re thrilled to be publishing it.”