Feb. 10, 2007 — -- It took a big appetite and an even bigger bank account to get through tonight's meal at the Dome Restaurant in Bankok, Thailand. It was billed as the most expensive meal ever served.
After 10 courses, prepared by some of the most famous chefs in the world, each accompanied by its own rare wine, each diner was presented with a bill for one million Thai baht. That's about $30,000, and the tax and tip were not included.
Worth every penny, Italian chef Heinz Winkler told the Associated Press.
"I believe the diners tonight will experience a culinary level unseen before," he told the AP.
But some felt the food was as rich as the diners themselves. One diner, Sophiane Foster had trouble getting through her eighth course of pigeon en croute with cepes mushrooms: "I can't finish it. Your senses can only take so much."
The six chefs who prepared the meal were flown in from France, Germany and Italy. The ingredients they used were flown in from all over the world.
Diners started with a crème brulee of foie gras, then moved on to French scallops with Italian black truffles, Maine lobster, and Japanese beef -- and they were not even halfway through the menu. Whether anyone had room for the dessert is not known. It was a giant gingerbread pyramid. (The complete menu is printed below.)
The meal was served on the 65th floor of the luxurious Lebua Hotel.
Nothing was overlooked. Even the wine pairings were carefully thought out. About $200,000 of some of the finest wines in the world, including rare Rothschild estate wines, considered some of the best of the last century, were included, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper. The menu also featured some of the best French champagnes.
Deepak Ohri, Lebua's managing director and one of the event's organizers admitted $30,000 is a lot to pay for a meal.
"When we look at only dinner, yes, it is expensive," he told the AP. "But when you look at the whole experience, it's the experience of a lifetime."
Fifteen people ponyed up to participate in culinary nirvana -- 25 were invited guests. Organizers told the Guardian the guests included executives from Fortune 500 companies, a casino owner from Macau and a Taiwanese hotel owner, but their identities were kept secret.
The chefs have three Michelin stars apiece -- the discerning restaurant guide's highest rating. Having so many culinary titans in one room might create tension -- but the chefs insist this was not a competition.
"There's no rivalry," French chef Alain Soliveres told the AP. "The pressure is something within each of us, it's not between us."
Having some of the wealthiest foodies in one location might be a tempting target for thieves. Ten would-be Japanese diners canceled after a New Year's Eve bombing in Bangkok killed three people.
Even the mega-rich like freebies, and this meal came with a couple, the Bangkok Times reported. Diners got a free ride from the airport in a private limo and a suite at the Lebua Hotel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(as reported in Britain's Guardian newspaper)
Crème brûlée of foie gras with Tonga beans
Alain Soliveres (chef)
1990 Louis Roederer Cristal
Tartar of Kobe beef with Imperial Beluga caviar and Belons oyster
1995 Krug Clos du Mesnil
Mousseline of pattes rouges crayfish with morel mushroom infusion
2000 Corton-Charlemagne, Domaine Jean François Coche-Dury
Tarte Fine with scallops and black truffle
1996 Le Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Lobster Osso Buczco
1985 Romanée-Conti, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Ravioli with guinea fowl and burrata cheese, veal reduction
1961 Château Palmer
Saddle of lamb "Léonel"
1959 Château Mouton Rothschild
Sorbet "Dom Pérignon"
Supreme of pigeon en croute with cèpes mushroom sauce and cipollotti
1961 Château Haut-Brion
Veal cheeks with Périgord truffles
1955 Château Latour
Imperial gingerbread pyramid with caramel and salted butter ice-cream
1967 Château d'Yquem