Luxury items 

The long wait for $ 200 fries – CVBJ


Golden Opulence Sundae ice cream from Serendipity3 restaurant in New York City lives up to its name.

These are three scoops of Tahitian vanilla ice cream covered with edible 23 carat gold leaf, teaspoons of Grand Passion caviar for dessert, an artisanal orchid in golden sugar with the very expensive Italian dark chocolate Amedei Porcelana and Chuao chocolate, made from Venezuelan cocoas. rare.

The dish is served in a Baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet and must be ordered at least 48 hours in advance so that the restaurant has time to acquire the exotic ingredients.

we$ 1,000 it’s so much more than Chantha Thach imagined spend on dessert.

“For me, who grew up in a middle class family, we$ 1000 is the rent for The House of someone. Maybe not by renting in an expensive New York, but by renting from someone somewhere, ”says the personal trainer.

But in December 2019, her aunt and cousins ​​came from Ohio for their first visit in nearly a decade, and before lunch at Serendipity3, her aunt revealed a surprise: she had ordered the ice cream. .

Shared between the table of six, the dessert tasting turned out to be just under $ 170 per person. And the way Thach describes the experience, it was worth every penny.

“I literally savored every spoonful”, he rocks.

“I mean, it was obviously the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life.”


That kind of superlative is exactly what the plaque was designed to do. It was added to the Serendipity3 menu in 2004 to earn it the title of “Most expensive dessert” in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The restaurant also claims titles for the most expensive sandwich, which is a $ 214 grilled cheese and sliced ​​bread accompanied by a South African lobster tomato soup.

The $ 100 milkshake is served in a glass encrusted with Swarovski crystals, and as of July 2021, it’s the most expensive in the same vein.

The expensive $ 200 fries have been blanched with Dom Pérignon champagne and topped with truffle salt, truffle oil, truffle cheeses, and black truffle shavings.

The restaurant is not alone in its quest for culinary extravagance.

In the town of Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, restaurant De Daltons debuted last month with a 5,000 euros of hamburger (US$ 5.900). It is made with the highest quality Japanese wagyu meat, graded A5, mixed with Alaskan king crab and Iberian ham.

In Las Vegas, Wally’s Wines and Spirits now offers diners the option of spending their winnings on aged $ 1,000 rib steak for 200 days.

And London’s Dum Dum Donutterie offers a high-end culinary creation that continues in the tradition: a 1,500-pound ($ 2,000) cronut with caviar.

Serendipity 3, New YorkSerendipity 3, New York
. The shake, cheese sandwich and dessert from New York restaurant Serendipity 3 are some of the products that are on the Guinness World Records list as the most expensive in the world.

While spending sky-high sums on a piece of meat or a plate of fries may seem ridiculous to some, these dishes are an effective marketing gimmick, as evidenced by week-long waiting lists and “what if” YouTube videos. I tried ”, which have accumulated tens of millions of visits.

Even though the pandemic has reduced the opportunities – and in many cases the appetite – for celebrity consumption, why are these big-budget menu items still so popular? Do we think that now, more than ever, we deserve a luxury?

Ready to splurge?

For Serendipity3, at least, the expensive fries were supposed to create a buzz around the restaurant’s reopening after more than a year of renovations and closures linked to the pandemic. Beyond generating titles, the dish also quickly accumulated a 10-week waiting list.

The success of the publicity stunt comes as no surprise to Aaron Allen, founder of Chicago-based restaurant consulting firm Aaron Allen & Associates.

As a restaurant, introducing an over the top menu item “is a great way to grab attention,” he says.

Serendipity3 received wide publicity for its golden ice cream when it launched and now its latest product appears to be designed for the post-pandemic climate. As more and more people are comfortable traveling and dining out, now is the right time to offer a decadent dish, but not entirely out of reach for crazies.

“We’ve all been so locked up for so long that spending 20%, 30%, 40% more in a restaurant doesn’t seem like something just for birthdays and anniversaries anymore,” Allen said.

This change in customer attitude is also encouraging more restaurants to add high-end dishes like Tomahawk steaks, an extra-large and eye-catching cut of rib-eye, for two or four people to their menus where they previously might have resisted. at the price, he said.

Cronut with caviar from Dum Dum Donutterie, LondonCronut with caviar from Dum Dum Donutterie, London
. The caviar cronut at Dum Dum Donutterie in London sells for 1,500 pounds ($ 2,000).

According to Anat Keinan, associate professor of marketing at Boston University in the United States, people may be more willing to indulge themselves when circumstances cause them to take a long-term perspective.

In his research, he found that when you ask people about their regrets and short-term priorities, tend to focus on concerns such as not working out enough, not dieting or exercising enough, or not saving enough money.

On the contrary, when you ask them to think about the last 5 or 10 years, or to look to the future, they tend to prioritize and regret to have missed pleasant experiences.

Situations like travel (as in the case of Thach’s aunt), as well as major events like the pandemic, promote this kind of long-term perspective.

People are more inclined to say, “Oh, you know what? I don’t want to miss opportunities to be happy and have special experiences with my family, with my friends, ”says Keinan. “And it allows them to have those kinds of special experiences without feeling guilty.”

These lush dishes tick all the boxes in what Keinan calls “Collectible Experiences”: They are iconic, rare – as the waiting lists show – unique, extreme and Instagrammable.

These qualities create a memorable experience, which is enjoyed not only in the moment, but also through anticipation on approach and with photos and memories afterwards.

Sundae of Golden Opulence, Serendipity3Sundae of golden opulence, Serendipity3
. The Golden Opulence Sundae dessert at Serendipity3 restaurant in New York City costs $ 1,000.

When Thach ate his decadent meal, his aunt celebrated the successful year she had had with her business.

To his niece, he pointed out that a treat like ice cream “is a life experience that doesn’t come often or is not easy, and she worked really hard to get there, so she wanted to share that with. me, “he said. Tach.

“I think that’s why it meant more to me than just ‘Oh, I spent $ 1,000 on this dessert.’ It meant a lot. “

“The Emirates effect”

Part of the appeal of a novelty item, like an oversized pastry or burger, is its up-down appeal: It’s a food that is generally affordable and easily accessible, much like a plate of fries or a hamburger.

“Everyone knows what it’s like to eat a burger,” says Leigh Caldwell, cognitive economist, member of the London Irrational Agency and author of “The Psychology of Price”.

“So you’re more likely to notice a burger at 5,000 euros ($ 5,898) than a tasting at the chic New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park. [que cuenta con tres estrellas Michelin]. It wouldn’t concern you, ”Caldwell says.

And even if you don’t ask for the highest price, the fact that there is can change your dining experience in this restaurant.

Caldwell calls him “The Emirates effect”, in reference to the ultra-luxurious first-class private suites of the Emirates airline.

“Even if you are traveling in economy class for $ 400, you still have the idea that some of that magic that this ultra-luxurious $ 30,000 suite in the sky will splash on your little economy class seat in the back. “he said.

It’s like a $ 200 plate of potato chips, ”the article said. a halo effect which makes you think that the rest of the menu, the rest of the experience you are going to have there, is still something quite special ”.

This is one of the reasons Burger King debuted in 2008 with a burger from Waygu Beef limited edition of $ 130. Although not many people ate it, it got the message across that the chain may be a more upscale fast food option.

“The information in a price does much the same thing as a well-managed brand,” says Utpal Dholakia, professor of marketing at Rice University in Houston, United States. what to expect and how will the quality of the product be ”.

Even if the only thing you knew about the Golden Opulence Sundae was its price, he claims, you would already have a vivid picture in your mind of what it would look like and what it would know. And what is most important for the restaurant, what kind of experience could you have there, no matter what you order.

Burger and friesBurger and fries
. After the experience of isolation by the covid-19 pandemic, some people are willing to invest large sums of money in dining experiences they deem unique at exorbitant prices.

As a marketing stunt, it has the opposite effect of, for example, offering a Groupon discount coupon for eating 99-cent crisps, he explains.

It attracts customers who are likely to be less price sensitive and gives the restaurant more pricing power over the entire menu.

“If you want to communicate that you have a certain quality, a certain environment and a certain experience,” explains Dholakia, “a really effective way of doing this is with a really high price“.

As the pandemic continues to limit opportunities for consumer spending, every trip and meal to a restaurant now feels, to many, like a special occasion.

So, while diners are in the festive mood, why not fill the void with gold leaf and caviar?

“With the way we’ve been living our lives over the past year and a half, a lot of us are eager to do this sort of thing,” Dholakia points out, “so this it’s a good time to offer experiences“.

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