January 2017, Taipei, Taiwan
I was watching Anthony Bourdain on cable one night and he was bemoaning the fact that he spent $1800 on a dinner at a fancy sushi restaurant in New York City. When I was in the city in 2006 attending a culinary school, two of my friends and I went to Per Se. The restaurant is owned by Thomas Keller, a famous chef from California and who owns French Laundry in Napa Valley. My friend sweet talked the reservation staff into getting us in the following week — a feat impossible to do unless you were a celebrity. Well, it turned out that the reason we got a reservation was that most of staff came from our culinary school. Belonging to that special fraternity even got us a tour of the restaurant kitchen after our meal and delicious macarons to take home. I ended up spending $240 for a chef’s tasting menu and one glass of white wine. I did feel guilty about spending that much money but over a thousand for a meal — I don’t think so!