From secret supper clubs to immersive dining events and pop-up restaurants in unusual locations, eating out is as much about the experience these days as it is about the food. So, perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the bright idea of creating an online platform to facilitate unique dining experiences.
Step forward then WeFiFo (short for We Find Food) – a kind of foodie equivalent of Airbnb – which enables home cooks, supper club hosts and professional chefs to bring their local communities together through food and drink. Formed in the summer of 2016, this new ‘social eating’ revolution is already taking the foodie world by storm – with people all over the country signing up to take part.
“One of the great things about WeFiFo is that absolutely everyone can get involved,” says founder Seni Glaister, who runs the company with her husband, Jon Stefani. “From enthusiastic amateurs and keen home chefs to seasoned professionals, we offer the opportunity for people to share their cooking with others. It’s really about bringing people together over a shared love of food.”
As well as the chance for people to showcase their cooking credentials, it also provides the opportunity for them to earn a flexible income from home – with WeFiFo taking just a small commission. What is more, hosts get to choose what they cook, how much they charge and where they host their event – which can be anything from dinner at the kitchen table to a picnic in the park.
Meanwhile, for those who enjoy unusual dining experiences, WeFiFo connects them with people in their local community keen to offer that opportunity – and it is usually at a significantly lower cost than eating out in a High Street restaurant.
“I think the aspect I like best of all, though, is the way that it brings together such a diverse range of people who otherwise wouldn’t have met,” continues Seni. “When you go out for dinner at a restaurant, it usually tends to be with social groups that you have curated yourself. With our events, however, you never know who you might meet. For example, at one event we went to in Dorking recently, we met a lovely butcher from the town, but also a local food blogger, an illustrator and a musician. The same people may be in a restaurant but you would never know and certainly wouldn’t get a chance to chat and interact.
“Also, interestingly, around 30% of our audience book for one seat, so it’s a great way of bringing people together who might otherwise be eating alone – with none of the stigma of booking a table for one at a restaurant or expectation of a dating type ‘set-up’. It all makes for an invigorating and exciting dining experience.”
Although she has always been a big foodie herself, Seni began her career working on her other great passion in life: books. Having co-founded well-known business The Book People in 1988, she went on to head up the company for the next 28 years.
However, born into a family of food-lovers, who ran their own successful smallholding in Godalming, Surrey, she never lost touch with her foodie roots. Also, now running her own farm in Slinfold, West Sussex, she felt an increasing pull in that direction.
“I wanted other people to enjoy freshly-grown, homemade food in the same way that I did as a child,” says Seni, who is herself the mother of four children. “Also, I’ve always been fortunate to travel and have often had the pleasure of eating with strangers; I just loved that whole experience of sitting down around a table with others.
“In addition to all that, when I was at The Book People, staff members would bring such incredible food into the office to share with others – and I started to think about how lovely it would be to create an audience for their amazing creations. So, all in all, it made for a very compelling proposition!”
Today, WeFiFo is going from strength to strength – with a growing membership, their own showcase pop-ups on the farm and now food-skills events too. So, here at Local Food Britain, we are delighted to be teaming up with them for an exciting collaboration that will see us connecting them with more cooks and hosts, as well as interesting and cool new venues. They, in turn, will be helping to spread the word about our own army of local foodies.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Local Food Britain,” says Seni. “As passionate fellow foodies, there is a natural synergy between the two organisations and we’re looking forward to sharing skills and embarking on some great projects. Working together for the greater good is exactly where business should be heading.”
In the meantime, thanks to this exciting new partnership, there could well be some rather special, collaborative dining events in the pipeline – with a distinct surprise element. We can’t say too much as yet, but think mystery rural locations, tractor journeys and historic barns. A whole new dining experience for dedicated foodies!
“Running our own smallholding, we understand the world of local food producers and makers, and what an amazing job that they do,” adds Seni. “Sometimes, though, their stories can get a bit lost. Connecting them with the local community is a way of getting those stories told – and helping consumers to understand why ‘local’ really is best.”
Tags: supper clubs