BBC Capital

The $26,000 treat: When common food meets haute cuisine

  • Haute cupcakes — and ramen soup?

    What happens when common foods meets haute cuisine?

    The newest gastronomic trend seems to be repackaging everyday foods such as ramen, burgers, and even bottled water into gilded treats that can cost hundreds of times more than a common bowl of soup or dash of H20. What drives people to pay more than their month’s salaries for something that they’ll gobble up in minutes?

    One motivation: the experience itself. Katy Casbarian, owner of Arnaud’s Restaurant in Louisiana in the US, said it’s less a matter of money than it is about celebrating milestones in a unique and memorable way. The one-of-a-kind experience of proposing marriage with the world’s most expensive dessert, or challenging your taste buds with rare ingredients, is, well, priceless for some people.

    Chef Angelito Araneta Jr, creator of the Guinness World Record’s most expensive sushi (it costs a wallet-lightening $1,980) agrees.

    “Life isn’t just measured by wealth,” said Araneta. “It is gauged by the ability of someone to spend their time [in a meaningful way]. Most of our clients are the 1% who knows this key to… life.”

    For others, the chance to experience luxury is the real draw.

    “Anything like gold gets people’s attention,” said Chef Jasper Mirabile, owner of Jasper’s Restaurant in Kansas City. “I mean, seriously, who doesn't want to eat gold once in your life?”

    Inspired by a list of the world’s most expensive dishes, BBC Capital went on a mission to find the priciest things you can consume. Scroll through the images above to see 10 of the world’s most expensive food and drinks.

    (Getty Images)

  • The golden cannoli

    Cost: $26,000 with a diamond necklace and Champagne

    In 2011, Chef Jasper Mirabile enlisted the help of baker Carey Iennaccaro, owner of Kansas City’s Sprinkled with Sugar bakery, to create the world’s most expensive cannoli. Having declared September “National Cannoli Month,” Chef Mirabile added this gilded treat to his menu as a limited offer.

    Adding to the allure, an Italian diamond necklace and bottle of 1999 Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne were included. Today, the gilded cannoli can be purchased for $50 without the necklace by contacting Jasper’s Restaurant in Kansas City in the US.

    (James Ferris Photography)

  • Meat without the ‘moo’

    Cost: $332,000

    You’ve eaten vegetables grown from genetically modified seeds. Now is your chance to sample the latest in technologically advanced beef. Professor Mark Post from Maastricht University in the Netherlands grew this hamburger patty from stem cells in a laboratory. But don’t grab your wallet quite yet. Right now, this special burger isn’t available for sale.

    Instead, it was created as part of a research project on environmentally sustainable food in 2013, funded by Google Chief Executive Officer Sergey Brin. Should it go on sale, the price for the burger is estimated at $332,000.

    The taste? Close to meat, but not as juicy, critics said.


  • Stunning noodles… are stunningly expensive

    Cost: 10,000 yen ($110)

    This bowl of ramen may appear as simple as any other noodle restaurant budget dish, but don’t be fooled. It includes more than 20 ingredients and Chinese stock, though the specifics weren’t disclosed by the restaurant. Chef Shoichi Fujimaki claims the dish holds 25 years of experience distilled in a bowl.

    Does this reflect in the ramen’s taste? Try it for yourself at the Fujimaki Gekijyo restaurant in Tokyo, Japan.

    (Ramen Adventures)

  • Glacier water included

    Cost: $60,000

    If you think $2 is expensive for a bottle of water, how would you feel about paying the equivalent of year’s salary for one?

    Paolo di Verachi created this $60,000 blend using spring water from Fiji Islands, France, and Iceland glacier water, mixed with 5mg of gold dust.

    The Acqua di Cristallo bottle, also designed by di Verachi, is made of 24k gold and is based on a sculpture by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani.

    The creation was awarded a Guinness World Record for the most-expensive bottle of water. A replica can be purchased online for $3,600. Water included.

    (Fernando Altamirano)

  • The sweetest marriage proposal

    Cost: $3.95m

    This particular Strawberries Arnaud is famous for more than its Louisiana-grown fruit. Topped with a 7.09 carat pink-diamond ring, this cream and strawberry confection will make a marriage proposal especially sweet. Arnaud’s restaurant, located in New Orleans, said the dessert was created after a customer asked to place a diamond collar on a turkey for a special Thanksgiving Day proposal.

    If the multimillion dollar price tag is too much, bring your own ring to the restaurant. Strawberries Arnaud can be enjoyed for as little as $8 without the jewellry.

    (Arnaud’s Restaurant)

  • Rolls of treasure

    Cost: $1,980

    These may be the world’s most expensive salmon rolls.

    Filipino celebrity chef Angelito Araneta Jr, also known as the “Karat Chef”, tops this sushi dish with 12 Palawan pearls and four 0.2 carat diamonds. The dish includes sea cucumber, wild saffron, and foie gras, which is banned in over a dozen nations.

    Sushi del Oriente was showcased in 2010 at a restaurant in Milan, but wasn’t for sale.

    Araneta’s other extravagant creations include a rabbit-shaped rice cake covered in gold and diamonds.

    (Karat Chef)

  • Paying more for a slice of home

    Cost: £1,000/slice ($1,780)

    Many turn to meat pie as the ultimate in comfort food. But how much would you be willing to pay for this slice of home? Fence Gate Inn in Lancashire, UK, has created a dish that contains some of the world’s most expensive ingredients, yet may remind you of pleasant family dinners.

    The filling includes £553 ($940) of Wagyu beef fillet and £2,250 ($3,840) worth of Chinese matsutake mushrooms. The gravy is made of 1982 Chateau Mounton Rothschild wine. (Not photo of actual dish)

    (Getty Images)

  • Cat-poo coffee

    Cost: $30 /cup

    Colloquially known as “cat-poo” coffee, kopi luwak is brewed from coffee beans picked out of Asian civet cat excrements. Unsavoury as this may sound, the civet cat is known to eat only the ripest coffee beans, ensuring the best quality coffee.

    While kopi luwak originates from Indonesia, cafes around the world are now serving this delicacy. Even so, it may take some time to get used to this rich, earthy taste.

    (Robert Nightingale/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2)

  • Cheesed off at the price of this sandwich

    Cost: £110 ($190)

    This sandwich, first unveiled at the 2011 Frome Cheese Show in Somerset, UK, may be the most-expensive cheese sandwich ever. Made of cheddar embedded with golden flakes and white truffles, the triple-decker also includes a mayonnaise spread made of quail eggs.

    While the sandwich is no longer for sale, Chef Martin Blunos applied to the Guinness World Book of Records. It has yet to be recognised.


  • White Truffle Bagel

    Cost: $1,000

    Lunch break? Why not get a white truffle bagel, topped with golden leaves? This Manhattan delicacy was created by Chef Frank Tujague at the Westin New York Hotel in 2007. White truffles, one of the most expensive ingredients in the world, can cost as much as $10,000 per pound.

    Chef Tujague said he wanted to create something that spoke to New York, and reflected his culinary passion for fine ingredients. This bagel is no longer being offered, but it’s only a matter of time before chefs release other takes on New York’s signature food.

    (Westin Hotel)