US chef Grant Achatz has been named America's top chef in the country's James Beard Awards.
The 34-year-old executive chef of the Alinea restaurant in Chicago picked up the award, organised by the James Beard Foundation, at a ceremony in New York last night (8 June).
Achatz rose to fame through his molecular gastronomy, with signature dishes including "black truffle explosion, romaine and parmesan" and "transparency of raspberry, rose petal and yoghurt".
Last year, he was diagnosed with life-threatening oral cancer and underwent aggressive treatment to save his life and sense of taste. He is now cancer free.
Achatz thanked the many chefs in the crowd for their offers to help during his battle with cancer.
"I didn't let any of them come to the restaurant and cook as they suggested. I couldn't do that to the cooks," he said.
Achatz previously won Beard awards for rising star chef in 2002 and 2003 and for best chef in the Great Lakes region last year.
Other winners in this year's James Beard Awards included Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, whose The River Cottage Meat Book won two awards, Cookbook of the Year and Single Subject.
The James Beard Foundation's Lifetime Achievement award went to microbrew pioneer Fritz Maytag, of San Francisco's Anchor Brewing.
For the full list of winners visit the James Beard Foundation website
By Kerstin Kühn
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