2 years Ago
On this holiday of flying cherubs and frilly lace, more is more. Rather than think outside the box, IfOnly started with our bestselling chocolate box and layered on decadent extras: an itinerary of acclaimed restaurants, private jet transportation, meetings with chefs, 10 nights of luxurious accommodations — and the World's Most Extravagant Chocolate Box was born.
The original Constellation Chocolate Collection is comprised of 21 pieces that take you on a journey through the minds of 21 notable chefs. For Valentine's Day, IfOnly's Culinary Director Michael Murphy added a sprinkle of stardust to create a chocolate box that goes beyond just experiencing top chefs. Our dream offering takes you on a moveable feast, unlocking in-person access to the culinary world's biggest players.
If you're wondering what makes a box of chocolate worth $100,000, it's a ten-night trip that takes you to six dinners at the country’s most renowned and hard-to-reserve restaurants. Travelers will also meet with trusted tastemakers on both coasts; embark on a champagne flight while mid-air on a private jet; deepen their appreciation of food with guided wine and chocolate tastings, dine at Chez Panisse, Le Bernardin, Quince, Barbuto, and the list goes on. Here, in Michael’s words, is how he masterminded this food lover’s dream trip.
IfOnly: What was the idea behind the original chocolate box?
Michael Murphy: Do you remember the little yellow Whitman sampler box? When I was a child, I was given one by my aunt every Valentine’s Day. As exciting as it is to get a box of chocolates, the map portion of it was even more exciting. I matched up which was a chocolate cherry, which was a coconut, which was hazelnut and as I discovered each chocolate one by one, I began to understand taste. And our Constellation Chocolate Collection elevates that. So, there’s such legendary chefs as Michael Tusk and Gary Danko who have their own personal favorites that define the restaurant.
IO: IfOnly's latest offering, the World's Most Extravagant Chocolate Box, is not just a box of chocolates, it’s a gastronomic tour. What considerations went into arranging it?
MM: I figured that in certain rarefied circles, people who know Barbuto would also know and appreciate Quince. There are certain landmarks in America’s culinary scene that I wanted to recognize and put on this road map of taste discovery.
IO: And how did you assemble the fascinating group of dining companions?
MM: Whoever indulges in this offering is already passionate about food and wants us to unlock access to the best of everything. And so, I sought out influential culinary tastemakers. One is Adam Sachs, a James Beard Award-winning journalist who now heads Saveur magazine as the editor-in-chief. Another is acclaimed author Alice Medrich known as “the queen of chocolate.” And there is Michael Bauer, the legendary food and wine editor and restaurant critic who has been at his post at the San Francisco Chronicle for 26 years. He knows the west coast food scene intimately as he dines out every night.
IO: How should one prepare for such a grand trip?
MM: Be prepared for the gluttony to overtake you. You’re putting yourself in their hands. That’s what I do whenever I visit a restaurant. Try to go with open eyes and an accepting demeanor. All a chef wants to do is make you happy and that goes from the executive chef down to the starting chefs. I would suggest that you do a bit of research. Read just the right amount, so that you’ve prepared yourself, but don't read so much that you can’t be surprised.
IO: And if you’re still saving up for the trip, what should you give to your date this Valentine's Day?
MM: Our latest chocolate offering would be the grandest of all romantic gestures, a bucket list for food lovers, a splurge, an epic trip of discovery, a lavish gift for someone you love, and also a very expensive one. For those whose budgets are a bit more modest, IfOnly’s original chocolate box will still take you to the best restaurants in the country. Our 21-piece Constellation Chocolate Collection is available to purchase for $75 and our 9-piece is $32.