Filmmaker Documents One Man's Obsession With Cooking From Alinea Cookbook

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Nov 17, 2014 8:30PM

In April we introduced you to Allen Hemberger, a San Francisco-based photographer and effects artist who documented his quest to create every recipe from the Alinea cookbook. Hemberger wasn't the only person to tackle this but he is the only one who decided to turn it into a book.

Hemberger's Kickstarter campaign to raise most of the funds for the book's production was successful but the campaign brought Hemberger to the attention of filmmaker Dan Addelson, who was interested in making a short film about Hemberger's journey, which even brought him to Chicago to recreate a dish in the Alinea kitchen—from scratch—with Grant Achatz.

Hemberger was amenable to letting Addelson film him but wanted to emphasize the importance of his wife Sarah in the entire project.

We agreed that one important area to explore was that of Sarah’s perspective and experience of the whole thing. We were first exposed to Alinea during the very early days of dating one another, and this project has lived with us through moving in together, moving countries together, getting engaged to one another, and getting married. I felt strongly about writing about this in my book project, and Dan wanted to explore it with his camera.

So we found a weekend that we were all free and interested in dedicating to this, and Dan flew up and stayed with us for a few days. We cooked and talked with one another for the weekend, and by the end of it he had several hours’ worth of footage that he toted back down to LA to try to shape into something coherent and truthful.

Addelson's short film is below. Sarah Hemberger provides that very perspective to balance her husband's obsession with working through the Alinea cookbook. "I've often wondered if he was like this before he started Alinea or if Alinea brought it out of him," Sarah Hemberger says.

"He's just become more ... ferocious."