I attended an exclusive dinner and discussion for Amex Platinum cardholders with one of the best chefs in the world — here’s what the once-in-a-lifetime experience was like

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  • One of the perks that comes with the Platinum Card® from American Express is access to exclusive events and dining reservations via the By Invitation Only program.
  • While the card comes with a ton of benefits and opportunities to maximize your value — for instance,  I got more than $2,000 worth of value in my first year — the By Invitation Only program is more of a luxury perk.
  • Tickets to these events can be costly, but they’re often once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
  • I recently had a chance to attend one of these events, an intimate discussion and dinner.
  • Here’s what it was like.

Although various banks and credit card issuers offer things like early access to concert tickets or exclusive seating at events, no brand owns the experiential space like American Express.

Since its early days issuing travelers checks in the late 1800s through its launch of a dedicated travel division in 1915 — which still exists today — American Express has kept its rise to global financial powerhouse aligned with travel and experience.

As the demand for “premium” products increased as credit and charge cards became mainstream products through the 1950s and 1960s, American Express has taken a strong approach toward providing members with exclusive opportunities. 

In 2017, Amex doubled down on this by relaunching its famed Platinum Card. Facing fierce competition in the premium space from JP Morgan’s Chase Sapphire Reserve rewards credit card, American Express boosted its travel and experience platforms.

In addition to significantly expanding the network of airport lounges that cardholders can access, Amex added new benefits to the card, and began launching new programs and opportunities while expanding previously existing ones. Although the company’s Membership Rewards program continued to be valuable, it attacked the Sapphire Reserve by playing to its own strengths. 

“[Amex has] stayed true to [its] origins, and as we’ve learned more about and from our card members, and seen their taste and interest evolve, we’ve strived to evolve as well,” said Janey Whiteside, EVP of global premium products and benefits at Amex, during an interview with Business Insider. “Now in 2018, we see that our Platinum card members are passionate about travel, entertainment, superior service, and have evolved in how they undertake that.”

One of the strategies was to launch a new “Global Dining Collection” benefit for cardholders. As part of this benefit, Amex partnered with hundreds of top and famous restaurants around the world. Card members can access exclusive reservation slots held for Amex, and enjoy things like off-menu perks and gifts, when making a reservation through the Platinum Card’s complimentary concierge service.

In addition, Amex developed deeper relationships with several of the world’s top chefs while expanding its “By Invitation Only” series. The company offers about 100 of these events each year, all around the world. 

By Invitation Only events, which are exclusive to Platinum and Centurion card members, include things like backstage tours at concerts, special trips, VIP access to events like the Monaco Grand Prix, access to cocktail parties with thought leaders and insiders across a range of industries, and more.

I’ve written before about how the Amex Platinum Card offers a ton of value, easily enough to outweigh its annual fee. In some ways, as long as you’re comfortable floating the initial annual fee each year, the ultra-premium credit card can actually help you with frugal travel (even if that may be a stretch).

It’s important to note that the By Invitation Only events are not similarly value-producing.

These events are not free, and are targeted more for the “luxury lifestyle” set or people splurging on a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Events can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on what they are and what they entail. However, in exchange for the high cost, you’re typically able to experience something that’s truly inaccessible.

Because I’ve reported on the By Invitation Only program before, but have never experienced one, American Express invited me to attend a recent event hosted in New York City, where I’m based. Attendees at the event would have the opportunity to join an intimate, private discussion with star chef Massimo Bottura, and, later, enjoy a multi-course tasting menu and wine pairing.

Bottura is the mastermind behind Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy that has been named “the world’s best restaurant.” Bottura, who was featured in the first episode of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” and in an episode of the Aziz Ansari comedy “Master of None,” is famous in the culinary world for telling the story of childhood and life in Italy through his cooking, expressing themes of art, history, family, music, and more. Described as “a poet, storyteller, and artist as much as a cook,” Bottura curates a one-of-a-kind culinary experience.

Here’s what the Amex By Invitation Only event was like.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Platinum Card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.The afternoon involved a small presentation with Bottura describing the inspiration for a few of his famous dishes, and taking questions from the 20-30 of us in the audience.
American Express

The talk took place in the afternoon. Later in the evening, we reconvened for dinner, which took place at the Peninsula Hotel. While there were a number of attendees, the room was laid out in a way that felt small and cozy, rather than overly large and wide open.
David Slotnick/Business Insider

As we walked in, we were handed a glass of champagne, shown our seat for the evening, and directed to a table where Bottura was greeting diners and offering a sampling of aged parmesan with a rare, aged balsamic.
David Slotnick/Business Insider

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

See Also:

SEE ALSO: I got more than $2,000 worth of value from the American Express Platinum credit card in my first year — despite its $550 annual fee

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