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Toronto Woman Serial Dates to Get Free Restaurant Meals and Blogs About It

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Photo: Erin Wotherspoon/Facebook
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Watch out, Toronto daters, there's a restaurant-obsessed single trying to get you to pay for her dinner. Erin Wotherspoon is the author of the Tumblr A Penniless Girl, Bad Dates and Plenty of Oysters, a blog where the 23 year-old actress chronicles her adventures in hitting up Toronto's finest restaurants on first dates without picking up the check. Toronto Life explains the situation: "it takes a unique personality to go on blind dates just to gorge on restaurant food." On the blog, she writes: "guys should feel honoured by this open invitation to date me." Toronto restaurants she's visited so far include: Jabistro, Canoe, Playa Cabana, and Hawthorne Food & Drink. Her "hit list" includes restaurants like The Black Hoof and The Guild.

Update 10/31: Wotherspoon has published a video teaser for her blog.

While she has gotten attention from media like The Cut, Wotherspoon has also gotten quite a bit of backlash. Over on Reddit, commenters have called her a "manipulative sociopath," and a wannabe Tucker Max. Others point out that some of her posts are bigoted. In regards to her experiences with JDate, a Jewish dating site, she writes: "Sue me but I just can't do the whole hook nose hunch back thing." According to that post, she had created a profile and described herself as "willing to convert."

[Photo: A Penniless Girl]

It also seems likely that the stunt is self-aware. She said in an interview with AM640: "I'm an actress and I'm an entertainer. So yes what I'm doing, it's not particularly nice, but not all art or people expressing themselves, it's not all going to be nice. At the end of the day I just want to entertain people. And I think even if you hate my blog you'll still read it, so ha ha." Sure dining at Toronto's hot tables is the mission, but she implies that the mission is also about the blog, the entertainment. And perhaps a book deal down the road?

Wotherspoon is certainly not the first woman to use dating as a way to get free meals. Back in 2011, Business Insider reported on New Yorker Jessica Sporty who used online dating to save money on food to the tune of some $1,200 per month. The New York Observer called it "food hooking."

While the examples of Sporty and Wotherspoon stand out for being deliberate in their attempts to trade dates for food, a recent study suggests that plenty of women still believe men should pay for dates. Now there is even a dating site based on the idea of men paying for women's dinners. Called HiDine, the site explains its concept as: "The dating site for food lovers where women are taken out to their favorite restaurants ... Chivalry is Alive." On why women should use the site: "You spend enough time and money on clothes, shoes, hair styling, and beauty products ... Any guy should appreciate that." Daters, consider yourself warned.

Update 10/31: Wotherspoon has published a video teaser for her blog, suggesting that the entire project is, in fact, self-aware. In the video she says "We all know that getting what you want in life can be tough ... So I've decided to become a serial dater to fulfill my restaurant hit list."

· A Penniless Girl, Bad Dates and Plenty of Oysters [Official]
· Meet the Woman Who's Dating Her Way Into Meals [Toronto Life]
· AM640 - Online Dating for Free Fine Food w/ Erin Wotherspoon [Soundcloud]
· HiDine [Official via The Cut]
· Toronto's Restaurant Serial Dater Published a Video [-E-]
· All Dating Coverage on Eater [-E-]