Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best of a TRAVELIFE 2014: A private dinner cooked by a Michelin three-star chef, with royalty as guests


2014 was spectacularly full of spectacular meals, flying all over the world, living a never-endingly delicious Travelife.

But one night definitely stands out in memory, when I flew to Tokyo in April, to join a heart-stopping dinner someone was hosting for just six people at his beautiful home with a view in central Tokyo.



He'd hired and flown in from Europe a world-famous Michelin three-star chef to prepare a 12-course meal, giving the chef no budget and a free hand to source the best ingredients from all over the world. 

This was all ultra-confidential as this chef does not want it known that he leaves his restaurant somewhere in the world to cook for mega-billionaires at the right price. 

He doesn't want to lose his three precious stars, after all.





MAKE YOUR OWN DREAMS COME TRUE.
NO BUDGET, NO QUESTIONS.
JUST DON'T DISAPPOINT.

But this was truly the meal of a lifetime, in 12 months of pretty fantastic meals all over the world, living a Travelife. 

For this very special dinner, with guests who actually wear diamond medallion sashes and tiaras -- if you get my gist -- my friend asked the chef to create the dinner he'd always dreamt about -- meaning the kind of dinner the chef himself had always dreamt about.

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A SURPRISE OF A MEAL.
AND MONEY ISN'T TO BE DISCUSSED.


This friend, one of Tokyo's great masters of the universe, had told the chef: "Surprise me. Don't think about the cost, and don't even mention money. I want to meal of a lifetime, and I don't care how much it will cost."


This reminds me, by the way, of someone who took me to dinner for my birthday once, somewhere in the world, at a restaurant run by a very talented and famous chef who I happened to know.

I'd given him my chef friend's phone number and he'd rung up the guy to discuss the menu for the birthday dinner he was taking me to.

THE CHEF GETS A SURPRISE.
AND ABOUT A BIRTHDAY DINNER TO REMEMBER



When the chef asked him what his budget was, my friend gave a number off the top of his head -- I don't think he was really thinking about it much. In all likelihood, he was probably buying some stocks on his computer while he was on the phone with the chef, and he'd simply subtracted a couple of zeros from the figure he'd given the chef.

Anyway, this amount made my chef friend pause for breathe and sit down. As for me, I never knew what the bill was like, but the ensuing meal had been out of this world.

Every single rare item in the foodie world was procured for this meal, including enough first-rate caviar to create a little mountain on the table.




MY BEST MEAL FOR 2014

But back to my meal of a lifetime for 2014.

For this, this other friend has said to this world-famous chef: "Make me the kind of dinner that has so far existed only in your dreams."

He added: "Order whatever you want from anywhere in the world, do whatever you need to do. Just make this dream dinner happen for me."



WINES OF THE CENTURY
FOR THE DINNER OF A CENTURY

Then he had some of the best vintages of the 20th century flown in from his main wine cellar in London, to accompany this 12-course dinner.

He's not only a very big businessman on the global stage and an astute investor, but also a very serious wine collector.

It was a simply amazing night. Unfortunately I can't blog about it. This guy's completely anal about his privacy as he's always in the limelight.




I couldn't even take photos with my little iPod because of the kind of dinner it was.

One very eminent couple at the table made it impossible to do so, protocol-wise -- not because they didn't want me to, but because of who they were, with the tiaras and all.



I can't say anymore, even if I really would love to.

But if you're familiar with what kind of VIPs need strict observance of protocol, then you'll have an idea of the very nice couple I was seated opposite at this dinner.

A VERY SPECIAL CELEBRATION



Our host was celebrating something special, and then his VVIP friends happened to be visiting Tokyo at the same time -- so this is why he'd organized this dinner of the century and pulled out all the stops for the evening.

Of course I was flying to Tokyo for this amazing event.

I'm sure you would understand that I would have flown halfway across the world, and not just halfway across Asia, if only I could tell you who cooked dinner and who sat across me at the table for six.

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A PRETTY LUXE WELCOME

When I arrived at Narita Airport the night before this dinner, my dinner host sent his driver with the white gloves and his fancy limousine -- one of his two fancy limousines, actually -- to pick me up.

When he rang me on my mobile in Manila just before my departure, to tell me he was sending a car to pick me up at the airport, I'd actually told him: "I can easily take a cab, you know."

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This is Japan, after all. You don't have to worry about taking any kind of transportation from the airport, or about taxi drivers trying to fleece you upon arrival.

But he said: "You are flying across Asia for my dinner. It's the least I can do."

Who's going to turn down a fancy limousine ride? I'll make the motions of turning it down once, but certainly not twice. I'll take the limo over the taxi anytime.

HELLO, HELLO



So I got into his car at Narita Airport, and instead of going home directly, I passed by his house just to say hello for a bit.

The big dinner was the following evening, and there would be four other people in the room, so I thought it would be nice to catch up ahead that night.

I knew he was flying out to Europe the day after the dinner, as well, so there would really be no time to talk in person on this particular trip to Japan.



His butler showed me into the house.

Yes, he has a butler in Tokyo, who wears the coat and the gloves just like in the movies. He's the only one I know in Tokyo with a butler, although I do know of two or three people in Manila with butlers like these.

I have to say, the whole set-up is straight out of Downtown Abbey.

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My friend was in his study, gazing at the computer and I'm sure it was New York or London stocks he was looking at, because of the time, when I walked in.

We didn't indulge in niceties, as we'd already talked on the car phone practically the whole way from the airport into the city, while I was updating this blog, posting updates on Facebook and posting photos on Instagram, using his car WiFi.

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A FAVOR I DIDN'T WANT TO REFUSE



Then we talked about the special dinner he was hosting the next day, and this was the first time I got a  preview of the 12-course menu especially created by this Michelin three-star chef from Europe, for the dinner the following night.

I couldn't believe what I saw. It truly was like a dream menu, if I ever saw one. 

I've had meals with longer courses in my never-endingly delicious Travelife before, but I'd never seen a stellar culinary cast of specialties like this, all together in one menu for six people in someone's house, with the world-famous chef in the kitchen a few meters away, cooking a dream meal while probably fighting off jet lag.

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THE MEAL OF THE YEAR.
IF NOT THE LIFETIME.

It was truly a pity I can't write about this amazing meal for 2014 in detail, but I've been sworn to confidentiality.

However, as I've already written in the vaguest possible terms, the Michelin three-star chef was flown in from Europe with his assistants and the wish-list of this chef, of the best possible ingredients on the planet, was flown in chilled from different corners of the globe.

A FRENCH MEAL IN TOKYO
WITH ECLECTIC COMPANY

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Yes, we were in Tokyo, but neither my host nor the other two guests are fond of Japanese kaiseki, so we had a French meal instead.

We were six. Two of the guests were famous people in Japan, but the two other guests were very distinguished personages from somewhere in the world. The man can often be seen in the front pages of the international newspapers while the lady usually wears a tiara on her head.

She didn't wear one for this dinner, although she had on a set of discreet but very fine jewels that looked like they'd been handed down from her illustrious grandmother.

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VINTAGE FOR ME

As for me, I wore a vintage Halston dress I'd picked up in Paris many years ago, with equally old handcrafted jewellery from my favourite Greek jeweller, which I'd picked up long ago at an auction.

And we all had a most enjoyable evening and a breathtaking delicious dinner that most definitely stands out as the best dinner in a year full of pretty stellar dinners, in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.






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