Someone really did it. And the rest of us can’t help but be green with envy. Jeffrey Merrihue, founder and owner of Mofilm and FoodieHub, has just accomplished what most people (us included) only dream about – to eat at all of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Read on as we sit and chat with Jeffrey about where he ate and what he experienced.
Jeffrey didn’t set out to dine at all 50 restaurants. Driven simply by his passion for food and dining, he unexpectedly found himself with already 30 of the 50 crossed off the list, two years ago. It was at that moment he decided he would conquer the remaining 20 restaurants. And today he stands as the man who has dined at all of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
“It would be easy to think that standards might drop outside the world’s gourmet powerhouses – the countries covered by the Michelin list – but, in fact, the opposite is true. Six of the most exhilarating restaurants on the list, for me, were in the world’s farthest flung destinations,” Jeffrey says (World’s 50 Best).
What made each of your favorite restaurants unique and memorable to you?
The most exciting restaurants were in the far away locations with exotic menus. For example – at Fäviken (No.25) in Sweden, part way to the North Pole, the grass fed dairy cows and enormous lobsters were unforgettable on a night when the Northern Lights put on a spectacular after dinner display.
At Piazza Duomo (No.27) in Alba, Italy, the salad of 43 vegetables, herbs and flowers will make you swoon.
At The French Laundry (No.50) in Napa Valley, oysters and pearls topped with caviar was spectacular.
As the only person who’s dined at all 50 restaurants – what are your thoughts about the restaurants/chefs on this list and the list itself?
The list reflects well the new ways that many of us prefer to eat compared to the stuffier traditions of Michelin. Only one restaurant on the list has a chandelier and only 7 have white tablecloths. The cooking is also different, with more of an emphasis on fresh sea-to-table and farm-to-table ingredients and less heavy cream and butter sauces (which I happen to like!). Also, because the chefs come together for the awards – they have created a community of friends, which is really quite inspiring.
What restaurant can you not stop thinking about? I still flashback to Asador Etxebarri (No.13) in a small farmhouse in the hills above Bilbao, Spain. Here, chef Victor cooks, flames, and smokes everything from the seafood to the meats, all over wood burning fires. He even smokes the butter!
Dish? The first dish I tried at the 50th restaurant I went to. It was called Billionaire’s Shortbread at The Test Kitchen (No.28) in Cape Town, South Africa. This was an appetizer served with foie gras and caviar!
The 1st bite of the 50th restaurant ironically called “billionaire shortbread” Porcini mushroom shortbread, truffle jelly, duck liver parfait, truffled dark chocolate and gold Maldonado salt @foodiehubtv @theworlds50best @wyahaw @finediningexp @ishaygovender #epic A photo posted by Jeffrey Merrihue (@jeffrey_merrihue) on
What restaurants are you still dying to try?
There are two restaurants with nearly impossible reservations to get. Rao in Manhattan. This Italian up in Harlem has no website and does not answer the phone as regulars have the tables booked for decades at the same time each week. The other near impossibility is the 7-seat Sushi Saito in Tokyo, where you must go with a Japanese regular. Any reader who will take me to either of these will dine as my guest!
What will you conquer next?
I have played at 80 of the top 100 golf courses in the world, and I’m looking at a map to see what that might take to finish!
Are you tired of eating?
I will never tire of eating, with a love for fine dining and street food in equal measure.
Agree with experts this is Australia’s best restaurant combining quality, freshness, expertise and theatre as evidenced by these wonderful, lightly fried mussels @theworldlovesmelbourne @simonfoodfavourites @theworlds50best @foodiehubtv @atticamelbourne @brucepalling @wyahaw #richardvines #melbourne #finedining @benshewry A photo posted by Jeffrey Merrihue (@jeffrey_merrihue) on
With the awards coming up for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 this June in NYC, it’ll be interesting to see if there are any new entries that he’ll have to visit!