College students Myriam Harrouche and Lulu Fanjul bonded over a stack of pancakes at the University of Pennsylvania during brunch one day. They soon realized that while food is fun, it’s really about the shared experience and who you’re sharing your food with. During the pandemic, the fast friends realized the impact the shutdown was having on local restaurants and food workers. “We were so inspired by chefs in Philadelphia and New York who were forgoing their own salaries and doing everything they could to keep their businesses open and employees supported,” they said. They, too, wanted to do something to encourage their local community to support local businesses trying to survive. Such was the start (and story) of their Instagram account @flirtyforfood, which they launched Nov. 2020..
Gaining solid trust from their followers and building valuable relationships with chefs and establishments, Harrouche and Fanjul soon realized they wanted to take FLIRTY, as they call it, to the next level. In September of 2023 they launched their formal website. Packed with restaurant recommendations and travel guides based on their own “word of mouth factor,” Flirty for Food is built around an ethos of bringing people together through excellent food and even better company. And, if you’re looking for food and fun, these two foodies have got you covered. Following their successful launch, they’ve partnered with their favorite restaurants in New York City where the two now reside to host curated dinner parties. They’re also great places to meet and mingle, Harrouche and Fanjul say with a smile. “You could meet your next best friend, a business mentor or a potential date who gives you the butterfly feels. Going back to our story of bonding over pancakes, food is all about who you share it with and we aim to bring the Flirty experience to people all over the city – and one day worldwide.” We got “flirty” ourselves, asking the NYC duo a few questions.
I know that you bonded over a love of pancakes. Do you have a favorite spot for them?
We love brunch, so pancakes are a weekend must. Our favorites are Chez Ma Tante. They’re so crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Also Clinton Street Baking Co.’s blueberry pancakes are out of this world. We recently had an event where we served their pancakes for dinner.
What’s been the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve found through the community you’ve built?
The city is full of fascinating people, yet there isn’t an approachable place or way to meet beyond your direct social scene. At our events we aim to solve this problem by curating a unique experience at our favorite restaurants and connecting unique personalities over food. The best feeling is when guests tell us how they made a new friend and they’re planning to grab coffee next week. We’re so happy that people are craving these social connections.
What would be your ultimate dream event be?
An eventual dream is to bring our FLIRTY community to events beyond New York. Perhaps a weekend in Provence where guests stay in a stunning chateau with wine tastings and beautiful dinner parties planned.
Do you have any favorite spots you can dish on?
It all depends on the cuisine because New York is full of exceptional restaurants. But some of our current favorites are One White Street (for the best farm-to-table fare), Lucali (our favorite old-school pizza spot) and The Four Horsemen (for exceptional wine and seasonal plates).
What makes food flirty to both of you?
The name Flirty came to be when we were dining outdoors at Lilia on a freezing winter night (it was the pandemic so outdoors was the only option). Despite the cold weather, we still found ourselves applying lipstick mid-meal and asking the waiter what his biggest dreams were. At that moment we realized that dining out brings out a “flirty” side to us, a new definition to the word itself. Going to a restaurant gives you an excuse to dress up and get excited about trying new dishes, with great company of course.
What are the future goals of Flirty for Food?
We have exciting events coming up, ranging from intimate 30-person sit-down dinners to 250-person parties. In the future we want to develop a scalable app that brings these human connections over hospitality to everyone who is craving them. If someone tells us that they met an integral person in their life through Flirty, we know we’ve done our job.
Anywhere in Italy indulging in al dente pasta: Dal Bolognese in Rome, Lo Scoglio in Amalfi, Harry’s Dolci in Venice.
Any important life or business lessons you’ve learned along the way that you can share with us?
Meet as many people as possible to ask for advice and listen to their stories. Through these conversations you will meet valuable mentors, avid supporters and new friends, as well as learn something new and beneficial to your own growth.
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