Brian Robinson and his wife Rebecca have been on a quest to eat at every Michelin-rated restaurant in the world since 2013, documenting their culinary adventures on their widely followed Instagram account, @datingmrmichelin. The Philippines-based couple travel overseas once or twice a month, and make it a point to dine in Michelin-starred establishment every night—and day—while on the road.
To date, they have visited over 150 restaurants listed in the European, Asian and American editions of the Michelin Guides, and cite Epicure, L'Arpège and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, Maaemo in Oslo, Kashiwaya in Osaka, and Lung King Heen in Hong Kong as fond favourites.
We caught up with the couple to find out a little bit more about their hobby:
What made you decide to make it your goal to eat at every Michelin-starred restaurant in the world?
Brian: I got frustrated paying for restaurants that aren’t good or are “tourist traps.” The Michelin Guide actually helps me save some money in that they are selective about weeding out the bad from the good.
Rebecca: I used to think that Brian was just being brand-conscious about his dining preferences. But I changed my mind when one of his staff booked him a meal at a supposedly Michelin-starred restaurant. After he ate there and thought to himself, "how can this be a Michelin-starred restaurant?!" He was so disappointed by that experience that after leaving the restaurant, he checked right away if it was rated, and saw that it was rated in 2012, but when he ate there in 2013, it was no longer on the list.
How much budget have you set aside for this hobby?
Brian: As long as the restaurant is rated three stars then there is no limit. These days I have decided to focus on two- and three-Michelin starred restaurants. As a die-hard Michelin Guide follower, I opt for the highest priced set menu possible, which can range from US$500 to US$800 per head, as I believe these are tried and tested options that can’t go wrong.
We only visit one- Michelin starred restaurants if there are no two- and three- starred restaurants in that particular city we are in.
Which restaurants were the most challenging to get into?
Rebecca: When we are in English-speaking countries, we prefer to contact the restaurants directly via email for reservations. But in Japan, most restaurant owners don’t speak English, and only accept reservations made via hotel concierges. For our upcoming trip to Kyoto, we made it a point to book a stay at a five-star hotel in the city so they can help us. I told them to book us at all seven three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the city.
They were very helpful and polite, but I noticed that they were a bit hesitant to book us at all seven restaurants. They explained how Japanese culture is not about the money—I had already given them by husband’s credit card details, so should we not show up, they can still charge us—and they said they were more concerned about dampening the chefs’ spirits should we not show up, as some hotels can be blacklisted by restaurants if their guests do not show up. I had to write back to them to assure them that my husband will not embarrass them!
Why did you decide to document this journey on Instagram, instead of a food blog? We also noticed there are no captions, just photos.
Rebecca: I decided to properly document our meals through photographs so our experiences don’t go to waste. As I’m not exactly a “foodie,” I don’t feel I’m in the position to comment anything. My husband is really busy with work so I’m the one that does everything. I started the Instagram account to make Brian happy - it serves as a modern-day scrapbook of our dates.
I named it @datingmrmichelin to stand for two things. First, I often feel that I am dating my very own Michelin man (Brian looks very much like the Michelin mascot Bibendum, as they’re both white and fluffy), and secondly, as a joke we often have about Brian dating his Michelin-starred meals because of how seriously he goes in pursuit of them.
Do you live to eat? Have you been to more Michelin restaurants to outrival Brian and Rebecca’s latest count? We want to hear about the greatest lengths you’ve gone to for a Michelin meal. Send us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may just feature you on our website.