Have you ever ordered an açaí smoothie bowl, really cared that the milk in your coffee was soy, or overpaid for a salad with trendy ingredients and secretly thought, “wow, I’m such a foodie?” We’ve all been there.

Trying new foods and exploring the world’s cuisines can be quite addictive—just ask Andy Hayler, the only person to have eaten at all one hundred and ten three Michelin-starred restaurants and the star of “Foodies: The Culinary Jet Set,” a documentary featured on Netflix that follows both emerging and professional food bloggers and critics.  

What does "foodie" actually mean?

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a foodie as “a person who enjoys and cares about food very much.” But, this definition doesn’t contain the usual elite connotation. I mean, who doesn’t love food? While this portrayal can be applied to just about anyone, most of our food options are limited to restaurants nearby or the tight budget of a college student.  

These two boundaries, however, do not apply to everyone. Take, the featured eaters of “Foodies: The Culinary Jet Set." These writers are not dining at their local sushi joint, but instead, restaurants around the world ranked on the Michelin Guide. 

The Michelin Guide

water, beer
Photo courtesy of ViaMichelin

The Michelin Guide uses up to three stars to describe restaurants. One star means a “very good restaurant,” two stars indicate a restaurant is “worth a detour,” and three stars means “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” 

A restaurant that receives three stars would most likely be the best meal a “civilian” eater may eat. It might also be the most expensive, starting at $200-300 a person. 

“Foodies: The Culinary Jet Set” follows two bloggers, one critic, and a professional model through their travels to three-star restaurants worldwide weekly, sometimes daily. Factoring in flights and accommodations, these professional foodies pay thousands for a meal to experience the epitome of fine dining.

Andy, who?

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In 2014, there were one hundred and ten three Michelin-starred restaurants in over forty countries from Italy to Japan, and Andy Hayler is the only person to have eaten at all of them. (Talk about an actual foodie!)

His website features critiques of restaurants using his own scale from one, “catastrophically bad cooking that the kitchen should be ashamed of,” to twenty, “world class cooking—the pinnacle of cuisine."

 The Alinea Experience  

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Mahi-mahi tacos with a side of avocado toast may qualify you as a foodie in your book, but they would in no way compare to the exquisitely-plated cuisine served at Alinea, one of the two three-star restaurants in Chicago.

Andy Hayler described his first course as a “sphere of chilled peach juice and champagne encased in white chocolate, garnished with basil and sea salt” and their famous dessert “‘painted’ on the table” with ingredients ranging from frozen coconut sorbet to golden pineapple powder. 

After over sixteen courses, Hayler awarded Alinea a nineteen out of twenty, honoring the memorable experience. Sadly, the typical college student cannot afford the $571 total Hayler paid for his experience. Binge-watching “Foodies: The Culinary Jet Set” and my dairy-free Starbucks will be the closest I’ll get to being a “real foodie” for now.