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Greg Grossman: Celebrity Chef is Just 13

 Greg Grossman: Celebrity Chef is Just 13

Inside the Alinea kitchen (photo from flickr user edsoloh)

Christopher Borrelli | Chicago Tribune

You know your star is rising when your publicist follows you around a busy convention hall lugging your nitrous oxide tank, and it has nothing to do with your health.

Indeed, Greg Grossman is healthy, as he should be: He is 13, with thick wavy hair and long dark eyelashes that would make a Jonas brother jealous. He wears sneakers, and his long legs are teetering pegs in ultra-skinny jeans. At an age when most junior high school kids are just venturing beyond grilled cheese, Grossman is dabbling in dehydrated anchovy salt, Tawny Port jam, sake foam and yogurt ice cream with black sesame (hence the nitrous).

Grossman was at McCormick Place this weekend doing cooking demos, shaking hands and making contacts at the National Restaurant Association Show, the industry’s biggest trade gathering. His mission was simple: Promote. And people are taking him seriously.

Grossman, who has been catering gallery openings in East Hampton, N.Y., since he was 11, may be the next big thing in chefs. He is shooting a series, which is being shopped around prominent cable channels (he prefers not to discuss details); he has a book in the works. And Monday night, at the invitation of chef Grant Achatz, he’ll be helping out around the famed Alinea kitchen.

Q: How long have you been working in molecular gastronomy?

A: “Since I was a young kid, since I was like 11. But please don’t think it’s all flashy and stuff and that’s why I work in molecular gastronomy. I see it as a way of enhancing the flavors of a dish. It’s more about decorating the room than building it.”

Q: You’re 13. Come on. I’m not going to read that your family changed your birth certificate and you’re 25?

A: “I’m 13. I’ll be 14 next week. No, I got into cooking just because I ate at so many good places and I would come home and try to re-create it. But I read a lot of food books and I watch some Food Network. But mostly, I am just entirely self-taught.”

Q: How do you know Grant Achatz?

A: “He’s been one of my favorites since like forever, and I met him at different events. My parents know a lot of people, and I’ve been in contact with all the best chefs in the world. The other day I ran into Grant at the James Beard Foundation Awards, and he invited me to Alinea. It’s like a formal invitation. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing, but it’s definitely an honor.”