Somehow he’s still struggling to lock down that 100th reservation.
We all have different goals in life. Some people are happy just to go out for a good meal. Other people aren’t satisfied until they’ve climbed Mount Everest. Taking inspiration from the former but with Herculean effort of the latter, Paul Grinberg has set out to eat at every single restaurant on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list—as well as the extended 51 to 100 list—and as of this week, he already has 99 of them under his belt.
Food isn’t Grinberg’s life—he manages international operations for a financial services company by day—but he travels a lot for work, so he decided to pick up every food lover’s dream hobby: high-end fine dining. Laura Price of The World’s 50 Best caught up with Grinberg to learn more about his experience. He said a particularly memorable meal at New York’s Le Bernardin about 12 years ago led him to start visiting as many Michelin-starred restaurants as possible, keeping tabs on everything in a spreadsheet. He then turned his attention to The World’s 50 Best list a few years later. “The food has been great, but the connections have truly been the highlight,” he told Price.
As far as highlights are concerned, Grinberg listed Rubano Italy’s Le Calandre, Shanghai’s Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, and Chicago’s Alinea as his top three of the Best 50. However, when asked which restaurant he’d be most happy to “visit regularly,” Grinberg had a different answer. “There are so many which I would dine at again and again, but if I had to pick one, it would be Maido in Lima, Peru,” he explained. “Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura’s ability to fuse Japanese and Peruvian (two of my favorite) ingredients and flavors is wonderful.”
As should be expected, the interview includes a few crazy tidbits on what Grinberg has gone through in the name of food. “I’ve done a lot of extreme things, including taking in 20 Michelin stars over one long weekend, taking a 12-hour flight for dinner and returning the next day, and eating two dinners on the same night. (I was only in Adelaide for one day so I had no option but to have two dinners),” he said. Later, he also mentioned that for a while, he was eating sushi every day “until I found out that I had eight times the normal level of mercury in my body and had to go cold turkey on seafood for a year.”
But needless to say, the one lingering question has to be which off the 100 Best restaurants Grinberg still hasn’t tackled. The answer: Tokyo’s Sushi Saito. He said he “recruited 16 people to make calls on the day Sushi Saito opened its reservations, but I was unsuccessful.” But he hasn’t given up: He’s still actively seeking a seat. Uh, World’s 50 Best, can’t you hook this dude up?!