His favorite color is pink, “because nothing bad is pink.”
Sanity/Insanity. Night/Day. Good/Bad. There are the lines in which I need to believe enough to function, to be sane enough to participate in society. But there are those who are outside linear thought, living in the space that lies between. In the dusk, the predawn, the grey.
He has an extensive chicken and duck coop in his south Minneapolis backyard.
Once, just off the Florida Keys, I watched a slate curtain of clouds, as they raveled in delicate lines spinning longer funnels: water devils. Proof to me on an ordinary day that the world still had magic. I wanted to stay and watch the waterspout, a force of nature, a column from the sea to the sky. The aerial condensation, a temporary vortex of energy between the two.
His form of transportation is a 12-speed bike . . . all year round.
Anyone who knows him knows nothing, and its pretty safe to allude that’s a good thing. I’d like to say I have worked with him, but that’s not quite true either. More or less we were in the same place cooking for a defined amount of time. Once, we came to a near brawl at 1 a.m., and then another day silly or over certain hues of Luster Dust. At what threshold does a chef entertain crazy? Is he on something? Would it even matter? Is his brain a clothes dryer filled with marbles, glitter, and free form jazz? Were these the wrong questions, was I defrauding myself into thinking that the ability to wrangle the most creative cooks was a measure of my own aptitude? Who was this guy that makes flawless chocolates and could rework a crème anglaise until it was something beyond a sum of its total parts.
He works 16-hour shifts, in the walk-in cooler, on his artisan chocolates.
Deliberately taking the hardest position in the kitchen, following the method and technique of a very unforgiving culinary process, he goes down a rabbit hole only to pop up days later with a dessert combination that's original. Authentic. How hard is that? Just look around and count how many flowerless molten lava chocolate cakes, how many fictitious “house made” ice creams you see on menus. Few have given over to the process of pâtisserie, less still have morphed into the actual process itself: pâtissier. If you temper chocolate for a living you must yield to nature, and he lives happily and thriving in that punishing vortex. But when you meet him, be careful not to reduce him into caricature because that would be missing the best part. He is not Henry Chinaski but the whiskey and water, not the Steadman comic of Fear and Loathing but the ink itself. Is there beauty in the violent force of nature? Step into Haute Dish, order dessert and enjoy the ride.
By the way, people call him Christ, kitchen shorthand for Chef Christian Aldrich.
A Dessert Menu
by Chef Christian Aldrich
ricotta, chevre, black truffle, fig
A simple ricotta and chevre cheesecake, black truffle, preserved fig compote, and truffle honey with a waffle cone tuile.
kumquats, coriander, parsnip
Cake with a lot of carrot, candied fresh kumquats, eggless parsnip ice cream, candied coriander for a little crunch, and parsnip chips with a carrot juice reduction mounted with cream cheese “frosting.”
chocolate, coconut, and sesame
Two kinds of tapioca pudding with a sesame nougatine, sesame ice cream, and a chocolate genoise.