NEW YORK -- A Chinese tycoon served up a fancy lunch Wednesday to hundreds of homeless New Yorkers at a Central Park restaurant, but caught grief from attendees who were expecting cash at the end of the meal.
Recycling magnate Chen Guangbiao selected a menu of sesame-seed-encrusted tuna, beef filet and berries with crème fraiche at The Loeb Boathouse restaurant for the residents of a Manhattan shelter. He regaled his 250 guests by singing "We are the World" and performed magic tricks at the event, on which he joined with the New York City Rescue Mission, the oldest shelter in the nation.
About three dozen volunteer waiters sported green uniforms similar to those once worn by soldiers in China's People's Liberation Army, bearing the words "Serve the People."
Wads of cash filled wire baskets at the restaurant, with Chen holding up some of the money and waving it in front of the guests. But when the attendees discovered that they in fact would not be handed the cash, an uproar ensued, with some yelling, "We want it now!"
Officials from the shelter urged Chen not to hand out cash to the homeless guests because many are being treated for addictions and the money could be better used for their programs.
Others waiting outside, unable to get in because they were not registered, booed and cursed Chen.
Chen said he wants to disprove the cliche image of rich Chinese spending money mostly on luxuries.