Kastner's energy and innovative approach to his work left an indelible mark on Jody but what really surprised her when she asked him how the collaboration with Alinea's owner Grant Achatz came about was that he didn't tell her about the competitive selection process one would assume existed when one of the nations' best chefs was looking for a designer to work with to create the now iconic serviceware that is the Alinea trademark.
At the time, Alinea was still only a dream for Chef Achatz, an alumnus of Thomas Keller's restaurant The French Laundry, and Kastner was an unknown designer from The Czech Republic with a background as a blacksmith who restored the metalwork of Bohemian castles before immigrating to The United States to start a company called Crucial Detail in 1998.
Kastner explained during his Art Culinaire interview that Alinea's designer selection process was not competitive one. Instead, out of all the emails that Chef Achatz sent out to designers explaining the concept of Alinea and what he was hoping to accomplish from a serviceware perspective, Kastner was the only person to send the now famed chef a response letting him know that he was interested.
It was the stuff of serendipity and the designer and chef's celebrated collaboration has gone on to transform the serviceware that Kastner creates for Alinea into award winning products that have become iconic aspirational pieces in the food and beverage industry.
Kastner's Porthole Infuser that he designed for Chef Achatz's restaurant Alinea graced the cover of Food Arts Magazine and is now a favorite shopping item at The Museum of Modern Art's gift store in Manhattan. Kastner has also received the 2014 IHHA Global Innovation Award for Best Product Design and is the designer behind Team USA's platter and tools for Bocuse d’Or 2015 and 2017, helping Team USA win silver and gold for the first time in history.
Martin Kastner has come a long way since his early days in the United States as a struggling designer who decided to answer an email from a chef living in Chicago on the brink of opening one of the nation's most visionary restaurants.
We are delighted and honored that Martin Kastner will be participating on our The Art of the Meal: Ingenious New Plating Ideas panel at Roots: Innovate 2017. Moderated by Steelite's owner and CEO John Miles, chefs will discuss their forward thinking plating styles alongside Kastner who will offer us a rare glimpse into where plating begins, the serviceware itself.
We are sure that Kastner is happy he answered that email from Chef Achatz so long ago and we couldn't be happier either. Join us for Roots: Innovate 2017 to learn more about Martin Kastner's fascinating story and hear his ideas for how plating a dish is at its most successful when the dish itself is considered first.