SINGAPORE – Fancy paying for an 18-course Michelin-starred dinner, paired with vintage wines and champagnes handpicked by a sommelier onboard a private jet, while contributing to a worthy cause? One Singaporean couple did.
Vincent and Jane Hee, who oversee childhood institutions like Charis Montessori Preschool in Singapore, as well as Tong Le Yuan and Sin-China International Education in China, purchased the luxury experience dubbed ‘The World’s Most Exclusive Dinner’ for a whopping US$2 million dollars, all in the name of charity. The proceeds will go towards purchasing and administering vaccines to 20,000 children from pneumonia in Nigeria through Danish humanitarian organisation DINNødhjælp, as well as to raise awareness of children accused of being witches responsible for the failure of crops, illnesses in villagers or death of farm animals.
“When I was 15, my mum fell ill to cancer and we needed help. We had relatives and strangers coming to our aid, financially and emotionally. They gave us hope and hope is important. I relate to the situation in Nigeria. When I first saw the video of the witch children (being ostracised), I was shocked. Imagine your own parents burning you alive or starving you. It broke my heart. I’m in the education business and I love children. I feel that I should also give back (to society),” Hee shared with Yahoo Lifestyle Southeast Asia on what piqued his interest in purchasing this exclusive dinner.
‘The World’s Most Exclusive Dinner’ was curated by philanthropist and director of World of Diamonds Group, Karan Tilani.
Tilani said, “I’m very passionate about kids and I think Anja (Ringgren Loven of DINNødhjælp) has always been doing a great job. When you look at kids, they are so vulnerable and innocent. In 2018, there were about 800,000 cases where kids aged 5 and below die of pneumonia when pneumonia is easily preventable and treatable with vaccines. It is really unfortunate.”
There were seven other interested buyers around the world for the exclusive dinner but Tilani said that he eventually picked the Hees for their passion in education for children.
The two-day experience kicked off on Monday (27 Jan) with The Hees enjoying a dining experience at new rooftop concept 1-V:U and a one night’s stay at The Outpost Hotel with 10,000 roses, followed by a daytime cruise onboard a Ferretti 780 luxury yacht the next day (28 Jan).
But really, the highlight of the experience: an 18-course dinner by Chef Kirk Westaway of Michelin-starred JAAN served with hand-picked vintage wines and champagnes by a sommelier onboard the Bombardier Global 6000 private jet, cruising 40,000 feet above Southeast Asia.
Throughout the two-day experience, the couple was chauffeured in a Rolls-Royce. At Seletar Airport, the Rolls-Royce was parked on the tarmac – the second time since the former US president Barack Obama was permitted to do so in a previous visit to Singapore. The Hees were the first private citizens in Singapore to take a private car onto the tarmac.
On the flight being the first to start and end at the same place, Tilani said, “Singapore doesn’t typically recognise a flight that takes off and lands back in Singapore. It has never been done before.”
The evening closed with a night at the Presidential Suite of the newly-restored Raffles Hotel.
“Nobody can ever replicate this experience. I must give a lot of credit to our partners because I would never be able to do this without them. But the idea is merging luxury and giving back to society. We sent out a clear message that luxury is the key engine to philanthropy. We do this because it piques the interest of audience globally. We want to reach out to the right audience so people can make an impact and contribute through their time and effort, or even just understanding the cause,” continued Tilani, who heads a diamond mining group.
At the end of it, the couple were presented with two pairs of diamond-encrusted chopsticks, together with the Jane Seymour ring, a rose-gold plated platinum ring set with a rare 2.08-carat blue diamond.
All partners have donated their elements of the experience.