Q – As my wife and I work, almost continuously, on our Five-Year Travel Planning, we find ourselves drawn to the list you published several months ago of the World’s Top Fifty restaurants. Fine dining seems as good a reason to visit a country as anything else, so we are trying to use two or three in-country firm reservations to guide us in our planning. The question is how to best secure a reservation at one of the restaurants on the list.  Do you recommend that we call or, perhaps, put our request in an e-mail? Should it be addressed to the Head Chef or the owner? We would love to lock several places in Brazil and Japan in for 2026. Is there anything we should tell the restauant about ourselves to make this all go smoothly?

A –  Good idea but, perhaps, wrong approach. The last thing a world-class restauant wants to do is try to figure out what a US caller is talking about. You have no clout with a foreeign restaurant unless you get screamed ast easch evening by someone named “Gordon”.

The last thing the really top restauants overseas  want is a reputation for catering to tourists from the USA. It would help kill their local business. We would leave the restaurant reservation portion of your trip-planning to the overseas office used by your travel advisor to do the rest of the tyrip. The owners of your on-site offices live in-country and if the restaurant is on the “Top-Fifty” List it ios likely they have a relationship with management. Leave it to your local contact to fill the restauant in on juist how very important you are. Unless you are a blood relative of Anthony Bourdain  however, they may remain unimpressed. They hear from true VRVIP’s each and every afternoon seeking tables. 

The rule here is that any reservation needs to be made by a local, fluent speaker of the language or, in the case of the British Isles, by someone with the proper pronounciation.

There is one exception – if you are a return VIP Guest at one of the very best hotels in town, it is likely that the Lead Concierge at your hotel would also be a good source to score a hard-to-get reservation. 

May we say that being led on your travels by a desire to dine really well is an idea with a great deal of merit. But beware that that approach may keep you isolated int he more affluent, sophisticated portions of your destination. We would suggest a fifty-fifty mix of fine-dining and dining “a la local” in the countryside.