Alinea and Eleven Madison Park cooking up secret project

Digital tongues are wagging after Michelin-starred chef Grant Achatz uploaded a cryptic video on YouTube late last week hinting at a major collaboration between his flagship Chicago restaurant Alinea and Eleven Madison Park in New York, two of the most acclaimed and decorated establishments in the US right now.

Opening up to the sounds of a whistle steam train, the video shows staff from both kitchens packing up an unusual assortment of equipment in newspaper and Styrofoam popcorn.

From Alinea, wax bowls, latex rolls, helium and seaweed are boxed up and bound for New York, while staff from Eleven Madison Park pack up glass cloches, smoke sets, caviar and sturgeon.

In New York, a single file of aproned, suited kitchen and wait staff march through Grand Central Terminal carrying cardboard boxes and make for an impressive sight, while the same unusual scene is repeated in Chicago.

Achatz himself crawls backwards into a box which is ostensibly destined for New York, prompting bloggers and food writers to speculate that the crew from both restaurants will swap places, bringing Alinea to New York, and Eleven Madison Park to Chicago.

Perhaps a more likely scenario, however, is hinted at on a new Facebook page created in the name of 21st Century Ltd. which suggests that staff from both restaurants will work together to recreate the golden age of train travel with a fine -- very fine -- dining cart. The 21st Century Ltd. was a luxury passenger train that operated during the first half of the 20th century and ran between New York and Chicago in 16 hours.

"The 21st Century Limited will run a brief engagement between New York and Chicago in September and October of 2012," reads a post on the Facebook page.

Since the page's creation August 23, it's already gained more than 1,050 fans as of August 27.

The likely date for the collaboration is October 10 - 14, as Alinea's website notes that the restaurant will be closed for a "private event."

Alinea and Eleven Madison Park are two of just 10 restaurants in the US to boast all three Michelin stars. They also have strong showings on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list, both of which made the top 10 list this year.

Watch the video here http://bit.ly/OjxZNm.

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