Dinner with a Stranger

by Franke James

stranger to vege dinner

stranger to vege dinner

email request for charity vege dinner

jack in the box and sucker

who is the stranger

Franke James as a sucker

photo-illustration of mattress

feeling good
Yonge Street Mission tax receipt

google mark shouldice

puzzle that  is mark shouldice

google mark shouldice

mark shouldice has chutzpah



guest towel

ask and you shall receive

artist and various plates

say yes


head idea growing

why it's a cool idea

stranger revealed



guest arrive wreath

Flash animation: mouseover the plates to see what we talked about

Writing, illustrations and photos by Franke James
Dinner with a Stranger © 2009 Franke James, MFA

The donation was made to The Yonge Street Mission which has been around for 113 years.



CBC does “Dinner with a Stranger”

CBC screenshot

The National and CBC radio’s The Spark shared Franke’s story of “Dinner with a Stranger” with their audiences.

Related Posts

CBC National TV: “Stranger for Christmas” by CBC video-journalist, Peter Wall.
CBC Radio: “Dinner with a Stranger” with Spark host, Nora Young.
Franke’s post: Just look where “Dinner with a Stranger” has led…

307 Responses: 155 Comments and 152 Tweets

  • Franke James says:


    Yes! Dinner with a Stranger could certainly work at a restaurant. And for many people they’d be more comfortable in a public place rather than opening up their home.

    The key points are the donation to a worthy cause and the opportunity to spend some time with someone you want to meet. There are lots of ways to tune this Dinner with a Stranger concept to make it work.



  • What a amazing way of tell a story! Congratulations!

  • Question is: would someone pay 200us$ to eat something I cook?! :-)
    I would obviously accept if they did.

  • Allison says:

    That sounds like so much fun, Franke!

  • queeny colleen says:


    You are like fine red wine….you just get better with every sip.

    Love it.


  • Shawna says:


    I heard about your Dinner with a Stranger from the stranger’s guest and was immediately in awe of the beautiful idea.
    I am grateful for my introduction to you, your drawings and documentary way, and your inspirational life conscience. The strangers are super-swell and their story will no doubt motivate more Dinners with Strangers.

    In health and happiness,


  • […] även av tanken att låta främmande människor få vara med om det här, efter att ha läst denna hemsida. Så alla som känner sig uppmanade av att prova något helt spontant och halvgalet, är välkomna […]

    Dinner with a Stranger / The Swedish Version

  • Franke, as always, you blow fresh air into the crannies of my skull. I have shared your link on a political blog today to try and elicit some awareness that we don’t have to be nasty to be smart!!! And we don’t have to be angry to be active!!! I’m so glad I bumbled onto your blog, it makes me remember why we are artists. Enjoy!

  • jpglive says:

    what an awesome idea. thats just amazing. Read the post about the drive way as well – great idea.

  • Kilian says:

    so, how was Bill’s eggplant?
    We will be over next month if it was any good.

  • Franke James says:


    Very cool! Suzuki’s Living Room Challenge [] “drew inspiration from Dinner with a Stranger”


  • Heather Lisi says:


    RT @ellaandelliot Loving this post by @frankejames. I have a feeling she will now be bombarded with dinner requests.


  • Hyla says:

    At first I thought No, to the question Would I have dinner with a stranger. And then I read this amazing post. This is the first time I have come across your site and I will be checking it out further.

    P.S. I also have a green blog

    P.S.S. I would consider saying yes after your story

  • This was one of the most charming stories I’ve read in a while. Awesome graphics.

  • James says:

    Amazing story, stumbled upon it, very nice to see there are still nice/quality people in the world. Every day we see so much on the news about terrible things. It brightened my day to finally hear news about great people doing tremendous things.

    Might just invite myself to a stranger’s house :)

  • brian says:

    Great story, I enjoyed reading it, I think that your picture art definitely adds to the story and makes it a more interesting read. Thank you.

  • Rachel says:

    That was SO great! Go you for having the guts to do that!!!

  • Lillisa says:

    MMMMMMM….u made my day!!!!!!! *big HUGZ*

  • Tim Johnson says:

    Wonderful posting!
    Communities In Schools (a national, private nonprofit dropout-prevention initiative) hosts an annual “Lunch with a Leader” where people bid for lunch with various celebrities with the proceeds going to help CIS:
    Thanks for the posting!

  • penny says:

    Totally brilliant!

  • Elaine B. says:

    Beautiful!! Wish it would happen to me!

  • […] over for dinner with an offer of $200 to the charity of her choice. She had a fun experience and illustrated a blog post about the evening. What’s really interesting about it is that she thinks it could be scaled […]

  • Chiara says:

    That is awesome. I think I’m going to include a mention of this on

  • […] with a stranger?” Mark Shouldice of Toronto did exactly that—not by chance, but by identifying Franke James (author, artist, and photographer) as someone he thought would be interesting to get to […]

  • mixed media porcelain says:

    Fantastic story – wish it would happen to me but no-one has had the idea that I’m that interesting a stranger! Having said that, would I do it? Maybe not. I would assume spammers were trying to get me to reply!

  • beadbooty says:

    I’m positively speechless….what a warm and fuzzy feeling I got reading this. Thank you so very much, Franke, for sharing your incredible experience!

  • azh01e says:

    Absolutely loved this story. You are all remarkable one-of-a-kind people.

  • David Noble says:

    This is wonderful, Franke. Great on you for taking part, and better for sharing the story so masterfully.

  • […] the one being written about (if you know my work, I often interview friends, family, pundits, and strangers for my essays). But I’m very grateful they decided to write the article, and totally honored […]

  • Brian says:

    Nice story, fun and creative page. :) Amazing and why not?

  • porsha says:

    very creative and vivid

  • Miguel Pereira de Melo says:

    What a fantastic concept! Helping other… while enjoing a night out… with a stranger!

    I’ll do my utmost to spread this thought!


  • Norah says:

    How lovely! Both the Dinner with a Stranger and your totally entertaining website. I just thought you should know I almost never, maybe only once before, comment. I’m more of a lurker, skulker, in the most positive sense of the words, if there is one.

    How did I know about this? Doing my August year-end taxes while listening to the CBC and was so intrigued by the story I just had to search you out.

    What a pleasure. Happy holidays!

  • J. Batista says:

    What a great idea with an even better cause! Your creative flow is inspiring and heart warming not to mention hilarious!

    Just caught it on CBC News and found myself totally absorbed by the report. I guess I’ll keep this in mind for my next big surprise to my partner.

    Thank you!

    Happy Festive Season!

  • Dianne Christie says:

    Was surprised and pleased to see this story on the News tonight. I too am a friend of Mark’s mom and we discussed it last year at our book club. Have sent this information to my son who knows Mark from working at Right to Play.

    Hopefully this will inspire some people to get with it and use this unique way to give to their favourite charity and with care meet a stranger.

    Admire the creativity of Mark and Franke.

  • Laura says:

    Saw your story on CBC last night and *had* to look it up! What fun, and a much better gift for Hilary than another sweater or kitchen gadget! Everybody wins; Hilary, Mark, Franke, Bill, AND the Yonge Street Mission! We win too; I love the picture essay! Thanks to all involved for participating and sharing your experience. This will have me thinking of ways to use the ideas here in my own life.

  • […] I never expected that by saying “yes” to one dinner with a stranger last Christmas, that I’d still be talking about it one year later. The dinner took place last January and benefited the Yonge Street Mission. I created a visual essay about it called “Dinner with a Stranger.” […]

  • Hier says:

    Great story. Thanks for this!

  • Very cool … but … I have dinner with Strangers kinda often …

    Have you ever heard of

    It makes making strangers less strange a lifestyle choice.

    Dave :)

  • Franke James says:


    Thanks! Yes, I’ve heard of . Wonderful initiative and certainly related to the hospitality of this concept.

    Dinner with a Stranger is an idea that organizations could pick up on for fundraising. We’ll have to see what transpires for 2010!


  • […] James has Dinner with a Stranger named Mark […]

  • nniiccoollee says:

    Hi, Franke ~

    This is the first time I’ve encountered your site, and I’m absolutely blown away! First, by the amazing story of allowing self-invited strangers into your home, and second, because of the amazing visual way you told this story.


    I hope to see a web site/service spring up from your story that would allow others to experience such an out-of-the-box encounter!

    In awe,

  • sjon says:

    I was so moved by your ‘dinner with a stranger’ experience. I want to pay it forward myself. Tell me how me and my girlfriend can make a difference like this? This is awesome!

  • Julie says:

    Wow! I must thank stumbleupon for bringing me here! I had never been to your site before. What a fun, witty, and touching story! It was just so fun to read. Kudos to Mark for his very generous idea, and to you for not just deleting his email like most of us probably would have. I hope this catches on like you said. I have shared this with everyone who I think will appreciate it. :)

  • Colette says:

    What a great way to make this planet cozier, friendlier, more caring and definitely more fun! Maybe we should have a central web site that matches dining donors with happy hosts!
    I will endeavor to develop this idea in my community… thank you for sharing this!

  • ian says:

    i think this is awesome. and your visual essays are magnificent

  • Sqwam says:

    That’s really creative! I love this story :)

  • OMG this is the best blog entry ever. And I love this idea of Dinner with Strangers. I am the editor of a food magazine called Relish that’s distributed in newspapers–over 800 nationwide. This has motivated me to start such a program. I know this is just a post for you (and not your business) but I would love any thoughts you have. Great art……..Thanks Best, Jill

  • […] author of the award-winning graphic novel, Bothered By My Green Conscience, and the visual essay, Dinner with a Stranger. This book will entertain – and may just inspire you to “do the hardest thing […]

  • Joel says:

    You had me there dinner with a stranger its so inspiring but myself i would not accept now with all the crime its to difficult to make a commitment like you dont know who people are ! but another very good essay!!!!!!!!!!;)

  • Hi Franke,
    I love this story and how you present it here. I love the idea of having dinner with strangers so much I’ve turned it into my MFA project in performance (the basis being that the dinner table is the most important performance venue we have as a society). My blog isn’t pretty and it doesn’t have cool drawings but it might interest you.
    Happy eating!

  • Franke James says:


    That’s fabulous! The concept of ‘Dinner with a Stranger’ totally lends itself to performance art. You’ve raised the bar!

    Congrats and best wishes!


  • […] although I’ve read and re-read Dinner with a Stranger, I’m still amazed by the story of Franke’s response to a cheeky e-mail from a […]

  • […] So stay tuned, I know I will! In the meantime, check out Franke’s fun and inspiring Christmas story, Dinner With A Stranger. […]

  • Jenn Mezei says:

    Franke, you continue to amaze and inspire me.
    It is people like you who truly make a difference in the world.
    Thanks for contributing such insightful ideas through your visual essays!

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