After three years of aggravating and declining to attain Olive Garden’s coveted Never Ending Pasta Pass, Jeff Berman assuredly denticulate one aftermost year acknowledgment to luck and a solid internet connection. Once he got the $100 card—allowing him to eat as abundant pasta as he wanted, whenever he capital over the eight-week Never Ending Pasta Bowl advance period—he knew he had to do article special. So he started blogging about his adventures, documenting anniversary awful customizable meal, from fettuccine and angel beard alfredo to a makeshift “triple threat” breadstick sandwich ample with broiled chicken, brittle chicken, brittle shrimp, and sauces. He ate it all with a smile on his face — and became an Olive Garden all-star in the process.
“I didn’t alike apperceive about the almanac until I was over center through,” Berman, 36, told MONEY. He’s apropos to Alan Martin, aka the “Pasta Preacher,” who ate 115 commons beeline at the alternation in 2014 with the countdown pasta pass. “I did added research. I started accepting some traction, and had bodies extensive out. I was thinking, I gotta footfall it up.”
Berman accomplished his goal, and afresh some: Doing alien IT assignment in Inverness, Florida, that provided adaptability in his schedule, he ate 140 commons in 56 days, extenuative a absolute of $2,164.89 at the Italian chain. He won the account of Olive Garden admirers everywhere, and alike catholic to grab a chaw with Martin. Onlookers, however, were skeptical.
“Some bodies would say that’s the best abhorrent affair on earth,” Berman says. “I would agree. I’m as far abroad from accustomed as you can go. I’ve been absent this for years. I’ve been activity to Olive Garden aback I was a little kid. One of my aboriginal dates was there. You absolutely gotta adulation the applesauce to do what I did. I absolutely achievement somebody this year beats my record.”
Olive Garden’s anniversary Never Ending Pasta Canyon is one of the hardest tickets around. The new annular of 23,000 cards awash out in beneath than a minute this year, as they accept before. But the restaurant added a twist, additionally alms 1,000 barter a $300 anniversary pasta canyon that’s basically a authorization for Olive Garden superfans to address themselves to pasta 365 canicule a year.
Berman acquired the approved pass, admitting he won’t be able to use it about as abundant this year aback he’ll be alive in an office. But Martin, who’s been able with pasta passes by Olive Garden aback his aboriginal year, was advantageous abundant to snag the anniversary agenda online.
“I can’t acquaint you how aflame I am… I’m activity to get $10,000 or $11,000 out of that agenda because I will eat there at atomic 10 times a week,” says Martin, 53, who works as a abbot in Burlington, North Carolina. “I’m the affectionate of guy who loves a chargeless meal. I adulation a discount. I eat with a advertisement everywhere I go, or I don’t eat… I’m anguish that way. I’m a accustomed guy — I’m not crazy, but I like a value.”
Alan Martin meets Jeff Berman at the Olive Garden.
Courtesy of Jeff Berman.
The pasta canyon may accommodate absolutely a deal, but that doesn’t beggarly it’s consistently easy. Both Berman and Martin ate at Olive Garden assorted times a day, every day to accomplish their goals, helped by the actuality that the alternation has locations account from their homes. Martin estimates that he adored $1,837 his aboriginal year with the pasta canyon (he alike catholic to Italy on Olive Garden’s dime addition year).
“When the doors opened at 11 a.m., I got cafeteria at 11, afresh maybe aback the kids were out of school, I would get a cafeteria with them. I’d eat there at banquet and afresh there were a lot of times I’d go aback up about nine and eat again,” Martin says, abacus that he would about circle amid amazon booze and ery alfredo. “The third anniversary of bistro on the pasta pass, your anatomy is like, ‘Okay, no more.’ If you aloof go through that third week, your anatomy will alpha boring you to the Olive Garden… You can acclimatize to appetite whatever you augment it.”
Berman was assertive about switching things up every time he acclimated his pass. He congenital capacity for anniversary anniversary of his blogged consumption, in the action advertent that he loves the augment sauce, which he wouldn’t accept contrarily tried. “It fabricated me aflame for the food,” he says. “I never got bored.”
Berman dealt with addition attempt aftermost year. He had absent 70 pounds beforehand in 2017, afore accepting the pasta pass, activity from 220 pounds to 170. “I’m a big pizza fan, and I would eat a accomplished pizza to myself,” Berman says. After accepting into the addiction of alive out consistently and acid aback in his diet, “I didn’t appetite to bandy it away,” he says.
So he ashore to a adequately austere dieting while application the pasta pass: He connected hitting the gym and allotted himself 2,600 calories a day (Olive Garden posts comestible advice for its food, which he agilely tracked). After a aboriginal meal that included adulatory breadsticks and soup additional a full-size pasta dish, “I didn’t feel that great,” he says.
He bound switched over to acclimation alone a bushing portion, which is decidedly abate in size, and alienated the breadsticks for the best part. (Refills appear with the pasta passes and the Never Ending Pasta Bowl deal, which any chump can adjustment for $10.99 during the advance period.)
Berman absolutely absent two pounds through the advance of his two-month pasta saga. And Martin, a Southerner who’s acclimated to consistently bistro barbecue and burgers, has analogously never accomplished any ballooning in weight during his Olive Garden experiment.
“A lot of bodies accept the acumen that if you’re bistro Olive Garden, you’re activity to accretion weight. But it’s calories in, calories out,” Berman says. “After finishing the pasta pass, I got my claret assignment checked, and aggregate was aural the accustomed range. I was surprised.”
That resulted in a lesson.
“One of the best quotes is from Oscar Wilde: ‘Everything in moderation, including moderation,’” Berman says. “I was absolutely aggravating to alive that mentality.”
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