Eating Authors: Wesley Chu

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Wesley Chu

Although it pains me to admit it, this week’s guest here at EATING AUTHORS has a lower Bacon Number than I do. I refer of course to Wesley Chu who has a score of 2 (Wes => Hyowon K. Yoo => Kevin Bacon) to my score of 3 (me => Michael Dorn => Eddie Bo Smith Jr. => Kevin Bacon). And I can’t even complain about it, because Wes is also a Kung Fu master and might kick my ass (not that someone would need martial arts proficiency to beat me in a fight, but c’mon, let me save a little face here).

Wes is another of the authors I first met in Detroit at ConFusion, making that convention the best friend this blog feature has ever had. His latest book, The Deaths of Tao (a sequel to The Lives of Tao, both from Angry Robot Books) came out just three weeks ago.

The other thing I need to tell you about Wes is that he’s changed publishers. His next book, a time travel adventure, is currently expected from Tor Books in the first half of 2015. Coincidentally, Wes and I share the same editor at Tor, so you know the competition is on.

LMS: Welcome, Wes. Thanks for being here. Please, tell me about your most memorable meal.

WC: The most memorable meal I’ve ever had wasn’t so much a meal but good theater. Actually, it was a full meal—twelve courses with wine pairing—but a whole heck of a lot more. Let me start from the beginning because the actual performance began before we even stepped foot inside the building. The restaurant is called Alinea and it’s a mainstay as one of the top five restaurants in the world. There’s a three month waitlist for reservations and the food is cutting edge gastronomy. Yes, it’s very hoyty.

The Lives of Tao

My wife and I arrived and stood in front of this plain-faced gray-building. There were no signs on the front and the windows were tinted. We entered through a metal door and were instantly hit with an optical illusion of a dark red hallway that seemed to shrink the further we walked in. At about halfway down the passage, a hidden door on our left slid open like a scene right out of the USS Enterprise. And yes, it even hissed. We knew right then that the evening was going to be a little on the epic side.

We were seated by no less than three waiters. One led us to our table and the other two were stationed there to pull the seats back for us. The service was so impeccable it was almost intrusive. For example, I had to go to the restroom at one point in the evening. I stood up and this waiter magically appeared next to me to escort me to the restroom that was within view of my table. My wife told me that while I was gone, a waiter came by to pick up my used napkin. Another waiter came by with a new folded napkin. Still ANOTHER waiter came by, was unhappy with the folding job of that said napkin, and then refolded it. Then another waiter met me on my way back to the table and escorted me back to my table. It was ridiculous and awesome and silly, and kind of a waste of good manpower. I mean, my table was only about twenty feet away from the restroom. I won’t get lost, fellas.

The Deaths of Tao

Over the course of the next four hours (yes 4!), we had twelve memorable dishes and these amazing wine pairings. Now, I will be the first to admit that I don’t get wine. Sure they all taste different, but I rarely understood the nuances of the stuff, especially when paired with food. Basically, I have a caveman palate but for the first time in my life at that dinner, I got it. I really, really got it. I understood why this particular southern Spanish wine worked with this popcorn puree, or how this strange greasy tasting French wine worked with my cubed steak with dry ice. Oh yeah, and where most restaurants have one sommelier, Alinea was staffed with five.

I will admit dinner that night wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted but the entire evening was definitely the most memorable. Half the time, I felt bad because the food was so beautiful it felt like I was eating art. Don’t get me wrong; it was still delicious, but damn it was so dang pretty. By the end of the night, my wife and I felt like we just went through this culinary epic adventure where the food took us on this strange exotic journey. Oh, that and we were pretty frigging hammered.

Note to self: when wine paring on twelve plus courses, don’t polish off every damn glass.

Thanks, Wes. And now you must swear never to speak of this meal in front of my wife. She trained as a chef and lives for finding extraordinary restaurants. If she ever learns of Alinea, I’m doomed.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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