Edmonton woman seeks strangers for food-fuelled writing project

Rebecca Schellenberg believes the way to a stranger’s heart is through their stomach.

'I've never met someone who doesn't have a fascinating story,' said Rebecca Schellenberg

Rebecca Schellenberg spoke about her strange quest during a Thursday morning interview on Edmonton AM. (Tim Adams/CBC Edmonton )

Rebecca Schellenberg believes the way to a stranger's heart is through their stomach.

The Edmonton writer and musician is on a quest to dine with the unfamiliar. Over 15 days this February, she'll invite 15 strangers out to a meal in 15 different restaurants, and document the entire experience on her blog.

"I love hearing people's stories. I just love listening to them and everyone has one. I've never met someone who doesn't have a fascinating story, and I really want to showcase the diversity of Edmonton," said Schellenberg during a Thursday morning interview on Edmonton AM.

"There are a lot of lonely people out there. I want people to be kind to each other, get outside their comfort zone and start talking to people."

Schellenberg plans on propositioning random people on the street, or in the shopping mall for her Suppers with Strangers project.

An avid "solo traveler", Schellenberg said she's often asked strangers to dinner during her trips across the globe, but acknowledges she still might end up eating alone.

"I've eaten with strangers my entire life but it's still a little scary. I'm guessing 4 out 5 people will say 'no,'" she said. 

"There might well be a day where no one says 'yes' and my blog consists of me, sitting by myself having a wonderful dinner, whether it's at McDonalds or Hotel McDonald."

Strange inspiration 

Schellenberg says the idea for her dining quest came to her while waiting in line for a table at Uncle Ed's on a particularly busy day at the pierogi restaurant in north Edmonton.

"There were a whole lot of people waiting in line, and when they seated at a table for four, I went back and picked out the woman next in line, an elderly lady, and asked if she wanted to come have lunch with me ... and she gladly joined me for lunch."

Since that chance encounter a few months ago, Schellenberg says the pair have become regular lunch companions, meeting up weekly to chat over a dish of dumplings.

"But one week she wasn't there, so I asked another guy, Adam, to come have lunch with me, and we talked and talked, and I told him 'you have to stop talking and start eating, your food is getting cold,'"  said Schellenberg. "We just had a grand time."


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