After marching and munching his way through 18 of New York City’s finest restaurants in one day, Eric Finkelstein (USA) has set a new world record for the most Michelin-starred restaurants visited in 24 hours.
Eric, 34, used to live very frugally in New York for a number of years, almost never eating at sit-down restaurants, let alone Michelin-starred ones. However, when he temporarily moved out of the city during the pandemic, he began to appreciate what food opportunities he had been missing all those years.
Upon moving back to NYC in 2021, Eric joined a food group on Discord where he first read about this Guinness World Records title. “I loved the idea," Eric said. "It combined my loves of eating interesting food, working towards a checklist, and working towards something silly."
This impressive feat required months of planning and preparation, including securing bookings at some of the city's most sought-after dining destinations.
This proved to be one of Eric’s biggest challenges; he contacted over 80 restaurants, but only received responses from 10 of them. Unfortunately, four of those 10 restaurants then lost their star when the Michelin Guide announced their 2022 picks, just 20 days before Eric’s official attempt date!
Luckily, following some frantic phone calls and emails, Eric was able to muster up some more reservations with restaurants who were sympathetic to his cause.
Sushi bar Noda was one such restaurant; their general manager, Philip, replied to Eric, “This is an absurd idea born out of the pursuit of indulgence and in service of unbridled vanity. We are 100% in.”
Eric’s official attempt took place on 26 October 2022, beginning at Le Pavillon in Midtown, where he ate a $36 grilled avocado salad. He followed this up by heading to Caviar Russe for – you guessed it - some caviar (with blini and crème fraiche), costing $25.
Among the other restaurants Eric visited were: Tuome in Alphabet City, where he ate grilled scallops dressed with grapefruit and chrysanthemum; Aquavit in Midtown for a $15 bowl of lingonberries; Oiji Mi for $24 steak tartare; and The Modern, where Eric enjoyed some oysters for $26.
Eric ended his eating adventure with a uni- (sea urchin) and caviar-topped chawanmushi at Noda.
The total cost of all his meals came to $494 (£409), not including tax or tips. Eric estimates that he consumed a total of 5,000 calories during the day.
For this record, all transportation must be by public transport or on foot; private modes of transportation such as taxis, or even a bicycle, are not permitted. Eric took this into consideration when planning his route and reservation times, and managed to visit all 18 restaurants in 11 hours.
When asked to choose his favourite meal of the day, Eric said it was a “three-way tie.”
“The Fluke Crudo at Casa Mono (fresh with surprising waves of flavour), Duck Mortadella at Francie (the buttery bread practically melted in my mouth), and Everything Brioche at Red Paper Clip (satisfyingly soft, combined sweet and savoury flavours).”
Although some people may not consider Eric’s pit-stop tour of New York’s finest eateries to be the ‘proper’ way to enjoy a Michelin-starred establishment, many of the restaurant managers along the way were supportive of Eric’s endeavour.
“I am a firm believer that the world is at a great deficit of capriciousness. It feeds a sense of novelty. As we go through life, novelty begins to be far more scarce. I think to participate or create a moment which has a genuine sense of novelty or first-time experience to it has a tremendous amount of value,” said Philip, the manager of Noda.
Eric’s new Guinness World Records title isn’t his first – he used to be a competitive table tennis player and he holds two records related to the sport:
- Longest table tennis serve: 15.57 m (51 ft 1 in), achieved in 2021.
- Largest table tennis ball mosaic: 29.12 m² (313 ft² 6 in²), achieved alongside Ben Rizzo and Raaj Shah (both USA) in 2022.
As Eric continues to search out novel experiences, we can’t wait to see which record he attempts next!