Here's a video interview from Imbibe and Inspire with owners Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas (Alinea, Next and the Aviary). They talk about everything, from renewing a 10-year lease for Alinea's space, to their thoughts on the 50 Best restaurant list, and which chefs they would invite to a conference on American cuisine. (Achatz would ask "Sean Brock to talk about the South," "Dan Barber to talk about sustainability," and "David Kinch to talk about some of the aspects of chef-and-farmer relationships.") It's not as crazy as the trailer they made for Next's vegan menu, but they do start off drinking some homemade Bloody Marys before Kokonas dives into his opinions on the World's 50 Best judging process:
It's difficult for great American restaurants that are not located in New York [to make it to the top of the 50 Best list] ... Almost everybody who had come to Alinea had to have voted for us, for us to make it to number six, because we just don't have the volume of people coming through from Europe than we would if we were in New York. ... It's difficult to encapsulate the world with 900 judges. ... Do I think we're at a disadvantage being in Chicago, which is basically flyover country for most of these judges outside the US? Yeah, I do. Does it bother me? Not really.
Kokonas also discusses why he never wants to be mentioned in a Michelin guide:
I think Michelin doesn't like the idea of hardcore innovation. Culinary innovation, they think is great, but restaurant renovation? They don't know what to do with it. Which is fine, because that's the whole idea of Next. I hope they they never put us in the guide. [Grant] does not. He's going to kill me for saying that.
Achatz and Kokonas also name-drop a handful of the Alinea alum they're proudest of, including Empellon Cocina/Taqueria chef Alex Stupak, whom Kokonas actually tried to talk "out of doing the Mexican place." Take a look at the video below:
Video: Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas