Every year, a group of 1,040 voters determine which restaurants will be featured on the list of the World’s 50 Best. The people who have been selected to submit their ballots come from 26 regions scattered through six continents, and each person is required to vote for 10 different restaurants. Each voting panel is comprised of a combination of food writers, critics, chefs, restaurant owners and “well-traveled gourmets,” which makes us think that Paul Grinberg should be invited to share his own opinion, like, immediately.
Grinberg, a Bay Area finance executive has spent the past year trying to eat his way through the list of both the World’s 50 Best and its sister list, which catalogs the restaurants that were ranked 51 through 100. In the ten months since those rankings were revealed, he’s checked 99 of them off his own To Do list (and off his credit card statements) because this can be your life when you bank more than $2 million each year.
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Dinner @burntends_sg makes it 99 on the @theworlds50best 2017 list of the Best 100 Restaurants in the World. Thanks Chef @dpynto for an amazing meal. I haven’t had a steak that good since Asador Etxebarri. So “melt in your mouth” delicious. Loved the beef marmalade and pickles. This may have been the first time in my life where I really enjoyed eating eggplant. Only Saito in Tokyo left to get to all 100. Does anyone know a regular who can get me in? I need your help!
His love for the finest of fine dining began more than a decade ago, after a meal at Manhattan’s Le Bernardin (this year’s No. 17), and he started collecting meals at Michelin-starred restaurants the way some of us collected Pokemon cards. In an interview with the World’s 50 Best, Grinberg said that he discovered their list during a trip in Spain and, after meals at El Celler de Can Roca (No. 3) and Mugaritz (No. 9) he decided he’d try to eat at the other 98. Because why not?
Over the past year, Grinberg has gone to all kinds of extravagant extremes, spending two or three doing things that might fill a lifetime for the rest of us. He’s recently started Instagramming his conquests, posting multiple photos from each spot (and holding up a personalized-for-that-night sign that is — sigh — always written in Comic Sans). During one memorable long weekend, he ate at 20 (!!!) Michelin-starred restaurants, and he downed two dinners in one night, because he only had one evening to spend in Adelaide, Australia. MAD LAD!
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Just finished a fantastic meal at Den in Tokyo. I’ve now dined at 96 of the best 100 restaurants from @theworlds50best 2017 list. Chef @zaiyuhasegawa is creative and has a great sense of humor. Met the guys from @gelatomessina in Australia who are on their way to the @gelatoworldcup. Good luck guys. Take home the win for Australia!
Although he says that “the connections” he’s made during his quest have been the real highlights, his top food-related experience was at Le Calandre (No. 29) in Rubano, Italy. “We chose the ‘Max’ menu, which had an extraordinary dessert called the Chocolate Game,” he recalled. “One of the items was a balloon on a stick; another was an inflated latex glove with some very sweet and tasty treats on each finger. Everyone was smiling, laughing and having a great time.” (The Max menu is an 11 course, €225 ($276) culinary extravaganza, so something’s seriously wrong if you’re not having a great time).
When he’s not traveling around the world to indulge in dozen-plus course menus, Grinberg says he fixes most of his meals at home, where he has a “host of molecular gastronomy tools” and “an extensive edible garden.” He might be content to spend the summer working on his own culinary skills – or getting through his next challenge, to eat at every three Michelin-starred restaurant – but he still has to get to that elusive 100th restaurant.
Despite being able to score a table literally everywhere else, Grinberg hasn’t been able to get a reservation at Tokyo’s Sushi Saito (No. 27). “The restaurant only seats eight people, there is no website and it is booked several months in advance,” its description explains. “Your best bet is to try to get an invite from a regular or hire the private dining room, which has its own counter and seats seven.”
Get to it, Paul! You’ve only got two months until next year’s list is released – and dang, we hope you get a vote.