Tables in 26 homes across Vancouver are coming together Saturday night for one big simultaneous dinner party designed purely for fun — and to raise funds.
The menus are as diverse as the charities that are being supported, with themes ranging from 'The Delicate Flower Dinner' to 'Zombie Apocalypse.' Beneficiaries include B.C. Children's Hospital and the West End Seniors' Network Society.
For the event, billed as #DinnerPartyYVR, Vancouver hobby chefs open their homes for four to eight paying guests whose $40 donations are gifted to local charities. The diners and cooks then gather together for an after-party, which is being held this year at a Cressey presentation centre near False Creek.
Annika Reinhardt, founder of event organizer Social Bites, says it's a great way to bring Vancouverites together.
Generally people make new friends," she said. "I had one of my hobby chefs say, you know Annika, I don't think people are strangers, they are just friends I haven't met yet. I think that's a beautiful way to wrap it up."
Mark Busse, one of this year's hobby chefs, is also part of the mayor's Engaged City Task Force. He said he's taking part to fulfill one of the suggestions from the task force's final report, released in January, which is to "use food to bring people together."
"We Vancouverites, can at times be a little reserved and cold and shut down," he said. "I have travelled all over the world and so often in the restaurant situation, in that moment, conversations start so organically and people are so open and so engaged."
Inviting strangers into your home
Audrey Wong, another participating hobby chef, is cooking in part to raise money for Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that's afflicted her almost three-year-old nephew.
She says she's pretty excited about participating because she hasn't hosted anyone at her home for dinner since she moved into her new apartment about a year ago. The added bonus of inviting strangers into her home is that she gets to be more involved in the community.
"It's really hard to meet people," she said. There's a like-mindedness shared among those who are participating, she added, because "it takes a certain type of person to go to a stranger's home."
In its first year, 200 people participated and raised $4,500. Now in its second year, the event has raised $6,100.
To find out more about this year's dinner parties, which are now sold out, or if you want to know how to get involved next year, check out their website: dinnerpartyyvr.com.