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    Jun 27, 2014

    Thanks for lunch, but where's our $300?


    A THREE-COURSE lunch hosted by an eccentric Chinese millionaire for 250 homeless New Yorkers in a posh restaurant degenerated into fury on Wednesday, when guests were denied US$300 (S$375) cash handouts.

    It had seemed such a good idea. Recycling tycoon Chen Guangbiao last week took out ads in American newspapers promising a first-rate meal at the Boathouse in Central Park and US$300 for each person.

    Guests were bussed in and treated to a sit-down meal of seared tuna, filet mignon and seasonal berries. They were waited on by staff in suits and bow ties, but anger flared over the cash no-show.

    As Chen spoke to a gaggle of Chinese journalists while dessert was being served, one guest started shouting.

    "Don't lie to the people!" Ernest St Pierre said. "We came here for $300, but now he's changed his tune."

    The New York City Rescue Mission - which helped organise the lunch - had convinced Chen to instead donate US$90,000 to the group, as they felt it was not a good idea to hand cash to the homeless.