I recently paid $600 for a meal.

I mean,  my portion of the bill was $600. And I don’t drink so it wasn’t a $100 food bill topped off by a $500 bar tab.

$600 for 15 courses of food at The French Laundry restaurant in Napa. Gasp! That’s more than my entire monthly food budget, and having it all at one meal?

Am I crazy? Am I obsessed? Was it worth it?

The Facebook Message

It all started 2 weeks prior when I got a private Facebook message  from my friend, PJ, a successful business coach.

Would you be interested in going to The French Laundry with me and 4 other movers & shakers? Budget $500 for the day. That’s a lot of money for a meal, but not a lot of money for a peak life experience that you’ll remember for a long long time.

LMK if you’d like to come. I need a final head count today.

The Restaurant

The French Laundry has been called “The best restaurant on the planet, period.” by food writer and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. It continues to hold 3 Michelin stars, the highest culinary honor possible. Chef Thomas Keller is considered one of the greatest chefs alive. It’s nearly impossible to get reservations, especially on a weekend.

Chefs and foodies from around the world make pilgrimages to eat at this place. People beg, cajole, and cry to get a seating. And here I am, with a message asking me if I’d like to go. All I have to do is say YES. That’s all…

Am I ready to spend a huge amount of money on a single meal… or am I being invited to invest in a peak life experience?

Of Course I Said Yes

Nancy in the kitchen at The French Laundry

There are certain things in life I’d LOVE to do but I hold back on. I can rationalize all sorts of reasons not to go places and try things. The French Laundry is a place I’ve always wanted to go to, but I never put forth the effort. I talked myself out of it many times, but with this invitation I know I could only say YES.

Relationships Matter

Reflecting on PJ’s invitation, I counted my blessings. She and I have only known each other a short time but we clicked when we first met. For her to think of me and invite me meant a lot. Her invitation forced me to do something for myself that I may not have done otherwise. The other women in our group were equally as awesome: 4 of us were business coaches, one a relationship coach and another a multi-million dollar business owner.

The Fabulous Foodie

One of our tablemates was a regular at the French Laundry. She’s a bona fide foodie and does PR in the gourmet food world. She’d been to the restaurant more than 50 times and was on a first name basis with most everyone there. She acted as our docent into the world of fine dining. She taught us something very important: ask questions.

“When they bring the butter, ask them to tell you where it’s from.”

6 Salts

“I’m going to ask for them to bring us the special salt. Listen closely as they tell you about each one.”

“The olive oil is $150 a bottle. He’s going to bring us some to taste. Listen and ask questions.”

We learned about 6 different salts from around the world (including Jurassic Salt from the dinosaur era). The olive oil was perfect. The butter you could eat straight with a spoon it was so good.

When I ordered herb tea with honey, I looked at my pot of honey and asked, “So tell me about the honey.”

I learned the source (within a few miles), and why they choose to buy honey from this particular vendor.

The White Truffles

We went during a short period when White Truffles were on the menu. White truffles are a rare mushroom that are hard to get and extremely expensive. Our Fabulous Foodie suggested we all try them as they are only available during the short season. “Oh and by the way, it’ll be an extra $200.”

At that moment, I started adding numbers up in my head. Was this going to be worth it? Have I reached my limit? I think it’s crazy to pay that much money for a freakin’ mushroom… makes no sense at all. 

White Truffles with Black Butter over Risotto

The server came over to see who wanted to try the truffles and one by one, everyone at my table said “Yes”. I was going to say “No” but for some reason when my mouth opened up I heard myself saying “Yes”.

Peer pressure? Or my Higher Self speaking up for me?

What I was learning about myself during this culinary adventure was that I say NO to myself way too often. In the past, I’ve put things off like tropical vacations and paying for premium parking… but in the last year I’ve learned to shout YES with enthusiasm and to simply embrace the moment and not to worry so much about the price.

And in the past year I had a few great trips to new places in Vegas, Hawaii, actually paid for premium parking at a concert, and now I was going to dive right into a $200 bowl of chow. It was as much about saying YES to myself as it was about the experience.

 Say YES

At one point in the meal, we all went around the the table and gave a word that was our theme of the day. My word was “YES”. How could it be anything else?

Each time I got worried about the price, I simply reminded myself that I am a business owner. I’m not living on a fixed income. I can manifest clients, I can manifest money, I can manifest abundance. This meal out was no longer an expense- it was a ticket into a new place of receiving and saying YES to myself.

Desserts for Thought

My day was incredible. 6 hours of culinary orgasm, great conversation, bumping against my comfort zone, and breaking through to see my ability to create abundance and afford to say YES.

Will I be plunking down money like this every week? Highly unlikely unless I bring 50 friends to the local Thai restaurant. But knowing that there’s a time and place to say a big YES definitely opens a person up and peels away those layers of “No” that no longer serve us… and no longer fit.

Bon apetit!

Nancy Marmolejo

Author Nancy Marmolejo

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