Got $10,000? Spend a day with Alice Waters

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Want to hone your skills as a sous-chef to a culinary master? Feel like sipping on some Moroccan mint tea fresh from the streets of Marrakech? Companies like Gilt City, Jetsetter and IfOnly are here to say that an open mind (and wallet) can make these culinary dreams your very own reality. The industry of fulfilling foodie fantasies has grown so popular that the Wall Street Journal recently published an article describing an assortment of epicurean indulgences, sure to please even those with the most discerning tastes.

Like its competitors, IfOnly offers their users unique opportunities rather than tangible gifts; their philosophy centers on forging a connection between the enthusiastic everyman and prominent figures in the world of fine dining, an exciting prospect for those with culinary heroes.

Of particular interest to East Bay locals, one of the site’s most interesting offers is a $10,000 farmer’s market excursion with Berkeley’s own Alice Waters, during which you’ll learn about seasonality and local produce, and then gush over your recent finds while enjoying lunch at Chez Panisse Café.

Of course, if $10K is feeling a touch too steep for you, there are alternatives. Perhaps a behind-the-scenes-look at Corey Lee’s Benu in San Francisco is more to your liking. The day-long apprenticeship followed by an exclusive tasting menu dinner with wine pairings will run you $2,000.

Now, the prices for these memorable experiences range from entirely reasonable ($65 for a six-course tasting menu at Local Mission Eatery in San Francisco) up into five-figure sums, so be prepared for some sticker shock. Conceptually, these adventurous eats are an exciting new development for food fanatics who’ve been wanting to narrow the gap between casual cooks and the culinary elite. So don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and dive in.

Contact Jillian Wertheim at [email protected].