The server says "pumpkin pie" as he sets down a doll-sized slice with a quivering, crystal clear filling. It’s the traditional holiday classic, not packaged as one might expect. But then again, this is Alinea, Chicago’s radical and pioneering temple of progressive cuisine, renowned the world over for chef Grant Achatz’s advanced cookery philosophies which have earned the place three shining Michelin stars for the last seven years. And as of last week, Alinea’s fall tasting menu includes a magically translucent slice of pumpkin pie that tastes exactly like the real thing.
Executive chef Mike Bagale and chef de cuisine Simon Davies are behind Alinea’s newest dessert course, made from a distillation of pumpkin pie set in gelatin that’s then poured into a traditional pie crust, which joins other curious seasonal constructions like an exploding, spiced orange juice sphere that’s coated in a saffron-curry shell and served beside a caramelized cabbage sandwich.