For most of us, dinner time is all about catching up with friends and family. Soon it can be time to take this mealtime conversation one step further. Danish chef and entrepreneur Frank Lantz has a dream to turn our dining tables into the main venue for socialization, a place to meet new people and make new friends.
With the launch of social dining app TastePlease earlier this year, he made it possible for food enthusiasts and home cooks anywhere in the world to open up their homes and invite strangers for dinner. The idea is to let the food on the plates serve as an icebreaker, allowing conversation to flow across the table.
“Sharing a meal is a great way to connect. When we sit down and eat together, we already have something in common, because we see and taste the same food,” Lantz explains.
“This way, it’s easy to feel relaxed around people we have just met or don’t know very well yet – even in a culture like the Danish, where we sometimes hesitate to socialize with strangers.”
Danish roots, global reach
With its world famous gastronomy scene, it is hardly surprising that the Danish capital sets the stage for a new dining app. Lantz himself has a long culinary career behind him as a chef and restaurant owner, but with TastePlease he hopes to make our meals about more than just the food.
“We have already seen various events take place here in Copenhagen and beyond, and what we can see is that many of the hosts and guests have signed up mainly to socialize and meet new people,” he says.
“Of course the food is important as well, but often it’s the full experience that appeals the most to our users – the combination of great food, friendly people and interesting conversations.”
Perhaps due to this social aspect, the concept has been especially well received among expat communities that account for an important part of TastePlease’s first 3500 users worldwide. By nature, these groups are looking to form new connections, and Frank Lantz and his team provide a new tool to do so.
“When you’re new to a country, you’re often looking to build a new network, and a social dinner can serve as an informal alternative to bigger networking events,” Lantz explains. “For our active expat users, it has been an opportunity to connect with locals and fellow expats in a new way.”
Brazil could be next
During the first months since the official launch of TastePlease, dinners have been popping up in Denmark, France, Switzerland and Greece – and more countries are expected to follow.
“Our most active users are still mainly based in and around Copenhagen, but we can see new users join from all over the planet,” Lantz says.
“It’s only a matter of time before we will see dinners in Germany, Belgium, Australia – maybe even Brazil.”
It is no coincidence that the TastePlease founder mentions Brazil in this context. The South American country has one of the most app hungry populations in the world, as Brazilian Android users spend an average of three hours a day in various apps – making it an interesting market for the Danish entrepreneur.
“If you look at the way Brazilians use apps and smartphones, communication and social networking play a huge part,” Lantz adds.
“This is very interesting for a concept like TastePlease that’s all about the social.”
And it is not only the social media connectivity that makes Brazil interesting. The Copenhagen chef and entrepreneur points to the food culture as a key factor, too. In line with other Latin Americans, Brazilians are well known for their hospitality – always leaving room for unexpected guest to join the family meal.
“For some of our Danish users, it has been a brand new experience to dine with people they don’t or barely know, but in a country like Brazil, I think it will come much more natural to a lot of people,” he states.
“The culture is very open when it comes to inviting new people in, so I look forward to see how Brazilians receive TastePlease, once we update the language functions in the app to include Portuguese.”
The language update to the app is anticipated within the next month, but curious Portuguese speakers will be happy to hear that the online platform is already available in their mother tongue – along with 13 other languages.