Launched last October by a team of food-loving local and international Melburnians, the Eat With Me online community is steadily growing and creating great opportunities for like-minded people to connect locally – and globally – via that most universal mode of socialising: food.

Bethany Jones, one of the founders of Eat With Me, reckons that we can learn a lot about someone through the food they share and the stories behind it. "Food is personal," she notes. "It says so much about who you are and where you’ve come from – your culture, your family’s history."

And recent events, like one member's wonton-making workshop, have given Eat With Me’s culturally diverse membership a chance to exchange skills and share their food heritage with an appreciative new audience.

Members join online and pitch their own events to host anything from bread-making workshops and outdoor picnics to pot-luck dinners and restaurant visits. And before you start getting nervous, there’s no pressure to cook if you don’t want to; the emphasis is really on getting together to share food and make connections.

Bethany says that many of Eat With Me’s members are folks from other places (travellers, visitors, ex-pats), and in a transient, social and international city like Melbourne it works. The meet-ups create a strong sense of community and connection as a result.

The power of a strong online community has meant that Eat With Me members and events have sprung up in cities all over the world, from Perth to Berlin, Buenos Aires to Milan, with plenty more in the pipeline. And the founders hope to see more of it, with the vision of taking it truly international, somewhat like the sofa-surfing model, but with food – a pretty cool prospect for anyone hungry for the full, local immersion in a unknown foreign city.

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