New York man sets world record for eating at most Michelin-starred restaurants in one day

Eric Finkelstein
The rules meant that Finkelstein could only walk or travel by public transport between the restaurants. Photo credit: Eric Finkelstein

A New York man has set a world record for eating at the most Michelin-starred restaurants in a single day.

Eric Finkelstein, 34, embarked on a gut-busting mission to eat at 18 of the acclaimed eateries within a 24-hour period back in October.

It took the healthcare IT consultant 14 months to plan his eccentric feat, not least because he had to secure bookings at so many of the city's finest establishments.

"The planning was more than half the challenge, just to get restaurants to agree to do it and then finding a logical route that worked," he told CNN in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The idea, which last month was officially recognised by Guinness World Records (GWR), came to him during the pandemic, when he moved out of the city.

After temporarily moving back in 2021, Finkelstein compiled a list of top spots he planned to eat at. He also joined an online food group, which is where he first heard about the challenge.

Having two other world records under his belt - both related to table tennis, a sport he formerly competed in - his interest was immediately sparked.

"I loved the idea," he told GWR. "It combined my loves of eating interesting food, working towards a checklist, and working towards something."

Completing the challenge

Finkelstein initially contacted more than 80 restaurants, but only heard back from 10. Unfortunately, four of those lost their star when the Michelin Guide announced its 2022 picks - just 20 days before his official attempt.

He frantically contacted other restaurants and luckily managed to secure enough reservations for his official attempt on October 26.

The day began with a US$36 grilled avocado salad at Le Pavillon in Midtown. That was followed by caviar, blini and crème fraiche for US$25 at Caviar Russe.

Other highlights included grilled scallops dressed with grapefruit and chrysanthemum at Tuome; a $15 bowl of lingonberries at Aquavit; a US$24 steak tartare at Oiji Mi; and oysters for US$26 at The Modern.

His final mouthful was at Noda where he sampled a uni- (sea urchin) and caviar-topped chawanmushi.

The overall bill came to US$494, excluding tax and tips. The Michelin-starred binge amounted to around 5000 calories, Finkelstein estimated, and was completed in 11 hours.

He told CNN his nickname growing up was "the finisher" for his ability to polish off everyone's meals. But this was another league, he said.

"I did get really full," he told CNN. "Definitely by the two thirds point I started to get a little nervous about my appetite. The next day I ate close to nothing," he laughed.

Other record feats

Finkelstein's previous records are for longest table tennis serve (51 feet 1 inch) and the largest table tennis ball mosaic, joint with two friends.

He told CNN that in 2019 he was part of an unsuccessful attempt to break the record for the most people performing a Dragon Ball Kamehameha - a move inspired by the popular anime series.

He added that in 2021 he became the first person to visit every Citi Bike station in New York.

"I attempted other things that weren't official world records," Finkelstein said. "When Pokemon Go was a fad I did a round-the-world trip hoping to become the first person to catch the regional released pokemons. Unfortunately somebody else beat me by two weeks."

Finkelstein hopes to attempt his next record with his girlfriend, but is remaining tight-lipped about the concept.

"As a kid my parents got me this book every year with the top 10 of everything and I got really into them," he told CNN. "But it wasn't until my late twenties that I tried to set any records.

"I enjoyed things that involved pranks in college so I thought what could I do as an adult version of continuing to be a child."