After noshing on steak tartare, caviar, grilled scallops and other high-end dishes all over New York City, 34-year-old Eric Finkelstein now holds the world record for visiting the most Michelin-starred restaurants in 24 hours.
Since 1926, the Michelin tire company has been rating fine-dining establishments around the world to help encourage more travelers to hit the road, according to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. For restaurants, earning Michelin stars is a huge accomplishment. They signal to diners that a particular eatery is worth visiting for its top-notch cuisine. Michelin’s inspectors give restaurants one, two or three stars, with three being the highest possible rating.
Finkelstein, a healthcare IT consultant, set the record by visiting 18 Michelin-starred establishments on October 26; Guinness World Records announced his feat on December 29.
Though he ate his way through some of the city’s finest restaurants in just one day, Finkelstein spent months preparing for the excursion.
Finkelstein is a bit of a record-setting fiend: He also holds two other Guinness World Records, one for the longest table tennis serve, and the other for the largest table tennis ball mosaic flag. So, when someone on the social networking platform Discord tagged him in a post about the existing record for the most Michelin-starred restaurants visited in 24 hours (which was 12), he couldn’t resist trying to break it.
Like many kids, Finkelstein grew up reading Guinness World Record books. He decided to start going for records in his late 20s as an “adult version of continuing to be a child,” similar to the pranks he liked to be involved with in college, he tells CNN’s Lianne Kolirin.
“It was just me trying to do something that I thought was fun and funny,” Finkelstein tells the Washington Post’s Praveena Somasundaram, adding that he wanted to do something that was “really silly.“
In August 2021, he submitted his official application to Guinness World Records, which the organization accepted in April 2022. Finkelstein dove into planning: He contacted Michelin-starred restaurants all over the city to get reservations, tracked down people who could serve as witnesses for the record and created a detailed timeline and map of his planned route.
Finkelstein also overcame a major setback when four of the restaurants he planned to visit lost their Michelin stars just 20 days before his eating spree. Fortunately, he was able to string together replacements in time.
On the day of his attempt, he started eating just before noon and finished after roughly 11 hours. In addition to witnesses watching his every bite, he also wore a body camera for further proof.
All told, he spent $494 (plus tax and tips) and ate an estimated 5,000 calories, per Guinness World Records.
“I did get really full,” Finkelstein tells 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.”
After reveling in his latest accomplishment, Finkelstein is already moving onto the next. He and his girlfriend, Jackie Cheng, have officially applied to set another record—though they’re staying mum about which one.