For 2014, I wanted to keep better track of my expenditures which was missing from my 2013 Infographic. I continued to track location, number of Michelin stars, notes on memorable dishes, and patronage frequency.
Click HERE for the pdf. Some areas are clickable!
- Let's start from the top. In 2013, I ate at 132 restaurants. In 2014, I ate out 569 times at 319 unique restaurants over 365 days. That's almost a new restaurant every day with an average of eating out 2 meals a day. I'm consciously decreasing these numbers in 2015.
- March was the most expensive month due to my trip to Barcelona (say no to €2 bread at restaurants...it's not free), San Sebastian (Arzak), and Copenhagen (Noma). September was the 2nd most expensive (Alinea, a few Kura omakases, and Del Posto).
- Like last year, I ate a lot of American and Japanese food. These two categories accounted for nearly 70% of my total expenditures. In 2015, I hope to branch out and give other cuisines a try, in particular Laotian and Thai.
- Looking at the map, eating took place mostly within the continental US. With an upcoming trip to Singapore and Morocco, I'm pumped to try some global cuisines. My dream of going to two major gastronomic destinations, France and Italy, will happen one day. Maybe 2016?
- Ok, I can explain the McDonald's. When I travel for business to podunk towns with my team of contractors, we make stops at the McD for breakfast because Chick-Fil-A isn't available in all states. Gourmet Garage and Ho Yip are my lunch spots during the work week.
Although I'm 4 months overdue on this infographic, the results are clear:
$20k is just irresponsible any way you look at it.
That's not to say I'm ungrateful for each and every gastronomic experience - 2014 was a banner year in terms of culinary experiences and memories but rushing through 12 Michelin stars in the first 4 months made each "high" less and less potent. Near the end of 2014, I was burned out and while my dining companions were getting excited for a typical nice dinner, I was experiencing Diminishing Marginal Utility.
One vivid example was the feeling I had after eating at Noma, the World's #1 Restaurant. I had figuratively reached the apex of Foodie Mountain and afterwards I remember asking myself "Oh is that it?" The food was creative and the service was top-notch...we even had the rare opportunity to talk one on one with René Redzepi and head chef Daniel Giusti for 30 minutes so I don't know what else I was expecting. A life-changing experience?
You spend your time chasing the next hot restaurant and it ends up being very exhausting. On any given week last year, I had no less than 3-4 booked reservations. I knew where I was eating 2-3 weeks out. Everything was meticulously planned out. Yelp reviews were pored over studiously. Backstories of chefs were researched and memorized. After a while, it becomes a blur. Experiences and memories meld together, indistinguishable from the next.
So what am I going to do about it?
After watching a few food documentaries on Netflix and reading articles that stress the importance of cutting down extraneous expenditures and living more simply, I'm making more of an effort in 2015 to eat out less, cook healthier meals, and continue my ClassPass. Everything in moderation, yes?
I'm eating out less on purpose so I can cherish the memories I have. What's the point of eating out 100 times if you can't remember each individual experience? Exquisitely prepared food is just one component - I'm also interested in the company I'm with, meaningful interactions with the staff and chef, and the connections that may spring forth when dining with new people. This is partly why I've been attending so many Chef Clubs.
How it works: A rotating lineup of award winning chefs every few weeks for a 2 day popup. Due to the 16 person limit and the cozy arrangement of the communal tables, I've dined and met with some great people: a talented mixed media artist, food magazine editors, PR agents, book agents, sous chefs of Michelin restaurants, and of course the guest chefs themselves who are more than welcome to answer any questions. This genuine sense of connection is what I'm going to be seeking for 2015.
In terms of expenditures, at this point last April, I already spent $6200 (Noma, EMP, Nakazawa, Arzak, Quince, etc).As of today, I'm at $2700, a savings of 57%. Could I do better? Of course. Will have to curb my recent addiction to Chef's Club which has accounted for 1/3 of my current expenditures but overall, I'm on the right path.
Quality over Quantity will be my guiding mantra.
See you in 2015.