I have a meeting in Kuala Lumpur this Saturday night, so I organized first to fly from Shanghai to Singapore Friday to meet my closest friend for a dinner.
Friday night dinner.
8 years ago, my previous boss who has ultimately become my closest friend, Jason Gorud took me out to dinner (at the time), to arguably the best, trendy, expensive, and exclusive Italian restaurant in Tokyo, one Friday night to celebrate a big week.
Jason and I are very similar – we are both Americans who have lived outside of America for 15+ years; we are both not good at small talk I despise it); we both like rituals; and we both covet good food.
However, what probably makes the FND so interesting for both of us is that we are also very different.
Whereas I am just a good salesman who is street smart, Jason is an intellectual who reads constantly.
I am a Christian; he is an atheist. I am extrovert and I guess you could say I am a bit aggressive; he is introvert who is more passive.
It all started in Tokyo at the Italian restaurant, “il pinolo” sometime in late 1998.
Although it was nearly 10 years ago, I can remember exactly what I ate, what wine we drank, what suit and tie I wore; what we spoke about and of course where we sat.
At that first FND, We got into a heated debate on whether Jesus is truly the son of God.
I chuckle to myself as I type. I remember him rambling on about how Jesus was just a man, a prophet, but no son of god, etc.
As he was talking smack about JC, I sat there praying to myself over and over asking God to forgive Jason for what he was saying… he told me all about the history of Israel and we discussed geo-politics in great detail, and at the time we were both single so we also spoke extensively about beautiful women.
That dinner was the most enjoyable/memorable meal I had experienced, so the following Friday, I suggested we go back and this time I would pay.
We went back to il pinolo, sat at the same table, the same seating order at the table and ordered the same wine.
When we both lived in Tokyo, every Friday night we would have dinner together — most of the time at the same restaurant and of course we sat at the same table.
Over the past 10 years, Jason and I have had a FND at many of the world’s most famous restaurants in many different international cities: Japan, Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai, Beijing, Los Angeles, Nairobi, some safari lodge in Tanzania, Nice, Cannes, Florence, Milan, Monaco, Paris, Singapore, Pune, and Mumbai.
Ritual is very important to us..
Only Jason and I go to the dinner, our wives and other friends are not invited; the restaurant must be something unique and exclusive; we must wear suits; we each take turns paying; and we have a seating order. I sit in the chair to Jason’s right.
Although we no longer live in the same city … if we are both in the same city on a Friday night no matter what is happening, it is understood that FND takes precedence over anything else.
The “Friday night dinner” has become so important to us that we will both fly across the world to meet just for the dinner. The night before Jason got married we had a FND at the best restaurant in Pune, India.
The night before I got married we had a FND at Louis XV’s in Monaco, one of the most famous and exclusive restaurants in the world.
Luckily, both our wives support and encourage us to keep this tradition going.
Although we live across the world from each other, we try to ensure that not more than a few months at a time go between our dinners.
Before either one of us makes any important decision on anything, whether personal or business, we ensure we meet up for a FND to discuss.
The FND has developed into a kind of private eating club.
Two years ago, we took a week off and drove through Tuscany wine country from Monaco to Florence, Milan, Rome and back to Monaco — we stopped at many vineyards and of course tried many great restaurants.
Last year, we took seven days to drive from Paris to Monaco and we went through Burgundy and stopped at several vineyards and several 2 and 3 star Michelin restaurants.
This September we are going to take a week and drive from Paris to Bordeaux down to Monaco with the focus on enjoying the meals and vineyards along the way.
A few people that know about the FND ritual have asked me why I have not written a blog about it –and I explain that I try to get each entry of the blog to have some form of potential positive impact on the reader.
Over the months, I could never tie in something inspirational about the FND other than me talking about Jason and I having good meals in nice restaurants.
However, on the fight from Shanghai to Singapore, I thought a lot about our friendship and “friendship” in general…. and how Jason and I have used our friendship to develop a ritual that has taken us around the world on some great adventures.
We use this dinner to argue, discuss, debate, vent but most importantly to reflect together in order to help each other climb higher.
The flight was 5 hours or so and I spent most of the 5 hours thinking about the past 10 years of FND’s all the crazy dinners we had over the years, trying to figure out which one was the best.
What is most important about the dinner is the friendship. Not just two buddies that meet for dinner, drink nice wine and tell each other what they want to hear…
but instead two close friends that challenge each other to be better.
For the most part, I agree with my mentors comment: “we are all best friends.”
But when it comes to the FND our best friends are not invited.