If you’re hungry for some romance, then it might be time to ditch Tinder and check out FlirtyFridays, an exciting dining concept that is getting sparks flying between singles in Hong Kong. We get the lowdown from founder Michelle Tang.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that dating in Hong Kong can be an arduous task. Between hectic work schedules, catching ups with friends, and taking some much-needed Netflix downtime, finding the time to meet other singles can feel like a mission. Sure, there’s always Tinder, and while there are glimmers of hope in the success stories we sometimes hear within our social circles, the odds of meeting our perfect match don’t always work in our favour. Plus you face the risk of meeting a ‘creeper’ – and we’ve all heard the horror stories.
However, one savvy millennial and passionate cook, Michelle Tang, is hoping to change that with an ingenuous social dining concept called FlirtyFridays. With the dining table taking centerstage as the original social network, the aim is to bring time-constrained professionals together over a communal meal, once a month, in hopes of getting sparks to fly between them.
The self-taught cook launched the concept back in 2016, after recognising the challenges of dating and meeting new like-minded people beyond one’s immediate social circles in Hong Kong. With a wide social network and a knack for connecting people who she predicts will “hit it off”, Michelle uses her talents to carefully curate the guest list each time, before putting her cooking skills to good use and whipping up healthy and rustic home-cooked meals that she prepares from scratch.
To attend a FlirtyFridays dinner party, guests simply have to register their attendance online, and wait for Michelle to get back to them with some ‘light’ vetting, which she considers essential to the curating process. “I’ll usually meet the potential dinner guests for a quick coffee and a chat before the event to make sure the social chemistry of the group is right and to weed out the chance of any ‘weirdos'”, she tells Localiiz.
Once her guest list is complete, and all payment has been received (usually between $900 and $1,200 per head) Michelle then reveals the location of the dinner party to her guests, which can range from her friend’s spacious apartment to private kitchens and bespoke pop-up venues on Hong Kong Island. But the best part is, they have no idea who else is coming.
To ensure that each experience is unique, in addition to sourcing new venues, Michelle is in the process of onboarding other talented chefs or passionate home cooks who are eager to share and showcase their culinary gift by cooking for a diverse crowd. She is also working on adding an element of ‘art’ to the overall dining experience – be it a stint from a singer, musician, or TedX style of talk designed to inspire or entertain the guests.
“I want people to be coming for three things: to connect with individuals outside their immediate social circles in an intimate setting, to experience authentic home-cooked food you can’t typically get in restaurants, and lastly, to leave feeling inspired or having learnt something new”, she tells us.
Michelle’s Cupid skills have certainly paid off, and she has even hosted pop-ups in Sydney, Singapore, and most recently, London. In fact, her monthly FlirtyFridays dinner parties have proven to be so popular among Hongkongers and expats that she’s now looking to turn them into a weekly affair for anyone looking to expand their social network.
“I simply love to cook and bring my friends together over a communal meal that I’ve created. Little did I know that simple act of inviting friends over to my place for dinner would blossom into a popular Friday evening activity among busy working professionals looking to unwind at the end of a stressful workweek”, she tells us. “It’s proven to be a great way for people to engage in some fun, real-life banter with other peers, and connect with one another again like how our parents used to – without the interference of smartphone technology.”
Aside from receiving rave reviews for her cuisine, she’s also succeeded in match-making numerous couples, including one guy who has recently been on his fifth date with a girl he got chatting to at her London event and another couple in Hong Kong.
But it’s not only singles who are welcome at Michelle’s table. Aside from hosting special match-making dinner parties, the adventurous cook organises gatherings for those looking to meet new people, build genuine friendships, and expand their social network. It is her vision to group and connect individuals from various communities over the dining table, in the coming months, including female entrepreneurs, LGBT groups, oenophiles, and those who champion social impact and charitable causes. This will all be orchestrated under the new brand name, CasaChelle, whereby each dining experience will center around authentic food and real conversations with amazing people.
To ensure a quality crowd, membership will be community driven, with new members admitted by invitation from other existing members. Within the trusted network, people will have the opportunity to meet a variegated crowd of motivated high-achievers from all walks of life, such as raconteurs, entrepreneurs, executives, investors, philanthropists, creatives, and artists. It is Michelle’s belief that one can never have too much fun in life and that each and every one of us has a story to share with others as we yearn to connect with people in a meaningful manner.
But until then, if you’re looking for love – or just a great night out – you might want to let this savvy Cupid work her magic. Her next event will be for singles only on Valentine’s Day and will take place at Campfire Creative in Wong Chuk Hang. To add an element of romance and sophistication to the evening, she has also arranged for a special solo performance by a member of the first violin section of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Spots are limited, so you might want to sign up now for your chance of striking love this Valentine’s Day.