For the 3 Cards, 3 Continents Challenge I previously revealed that I would be taking along a mystery travel companion. Stephen Pepper speculated that my companion might be someone named Ana (since I booked most of the trip with ANA miles), Carrie (who is capable of stuffing herself into a small suitcase), or Cher (who can turn back time so that I can pick different cards for the contest). Of course, those suggestions and others were tongue-in-cheek, but Stephen settled his tongue to conclude that my mom was the most likely. Nope. It’s not my mom. But I did recently take her to Miraval Berkshires, so I got brownie points there. I’m curious if any readers noticed that and realized that my mom wasn’t a likely pick for the challenge after all?
In May, my wife and I went on a terrific Zingerman’s Food Tour of Lyon and Jura, France. There, we met one of the guides, Maisie Wilhelm, and we hit it off immediately. Maisie was fun to hang with, and we were impressed with how well connected she is in the food industry. She took our small tour group behind the scenes with well known chefs in Lyon where we had the opportunity not just to taste their food, but to interact with them in depth as well. It was great. Meanwhile, she was fascinated by what I do with Frequent Miler and had already recently begun collecting points and miles through credit cards. Our relationship was bolstered by a surprising connection. She had gone to the same high school as our son. That was interesting, but the really surprising discovery was that she and our son were both involved in the creation of a movie about that high school: Welcome to Commie High. Our son had helped make the film as a student intern (this link shows him holding a boom mic). Meanwhile, Maisie was actually in the film and the key inspiration for it overall! The film describes, among other things, how middle-school students used to line up for weeks to try to get into this public high school. Maisie was the first kid in line when this craziness started. Fortunately, the school had already switched to a lottery system by the time our son applied. As an aside, the movie is definitely worth watching. Check out the film’s website for details about where it’s available.
My 3 Cards, 3 Contents theme: Great food around the world
While planning my luxury Round the World adventure for the 3 Cards, 3 Continents Challenge, I wanted a theme to tie my otherwise random-seeming destinations together. Since I love great food and I’m willing to go out of my way to get it, I soon settled on “great foods from around the world” as my theme. I mentioned to my wife that I would contact Maisie for advice. My wife agreed that Maisie would be a great resource, but she had an even better suggestion: “maybe she’d be willing to go with you.” What a great idea! Maisie has her own business as a “culinary concierge” who finds food experiences for her customers. If she came along, it would be great for me and for the theme of this trip, and the blog exposure would be great for her business as well. Win win!
Would it be possible? I have a strict travel budget for the 3 Cards, 3 Continents Challenge, but that’s for my own travel. I wouldn’t be limited to that budget for Maisie’s travel. However, I would have to find award space for two across the entire journey. That meant finding two available award seats on every flight, and two award rooms at every hotel. During “The Summer Of Non-Existent Airline Award Seats” that would be a huge challenge, but I believed that I could do it (I was right!). Plus, at the end of the challenge, followers will vote for the winner. I hope to earn extra points for building a more realistic and more difficult-to-book trip than my competitors. It’s much easier to find awards for one person rather than two. My trip would prove that it was possible.
I contacted Maisie about the idea, and amazingly she was in! Together, we’re going to travel the world in luxury and experience incredible food everywhere we go!
More about Maisie
Maisie Wilhelm is the founder of @palatine__ culinary concierge, a business she started after working with Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud for many years. While working alongside one of today’s greatest chefs, Maisie learned the ins and outs of the rarefied world of ultra fine dining, while also traveling the world with Boulud as he filmed Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain, attended the international culinary competition Bocuse d’Or, and cooked humanitarian meals for Japanese tsunami survivors. Along the way, she never lost interest in the tacos she had on the street in Mexico, or her favorite gelateria in Italy. She established relationships with local food experts and took copious notes on all the best places to eat, drink, and be merry. Now she shares her expertise with clients who care about a great meal just as much as she does; her mantra is, “Let no calorie be wasted on mediocre food!”