Cover Amanda Cheung, Michelle Ong, Jennifer Cheung and Adrian Cheung (Photo: Supplied)

On July 6 and 7, Michelle Ong’s annual fundraiser came back with a bang. This year, it was The Big Eight: Dinosaur Revelation, which warranted eight fossilised dinosaur skeletons being flown to Hong Kong for an extraordinary showcase of the true magnitude of these pre-historic creatures

When? July 6 and 7, 2022

Where? The Hong Kong Science Museum

Who? Michelle Ong, Timothy Yu, Ming Ho-Tang, Michelle Ma-Chan, Emily Lam-Ho

Here’s what you missed: When Michelle Ong, chairman of the First Initiative Foundation (FIF), puts her mind to something, neither pandemic nor typhoon can stand in her way.

On July 6 and 7, Ong’s annual fundraiser came back with a bang. This year, it was The Big Eight: Dinosaur Revelation, which warranted eight fossilised dinosaur skeletons being flown to Hong Kong for an extraordinary showcase of the true magnitude of these pre-historic creatures.

On display until November at the Hong Kong Science Museum, the exhibition boasts an unrivalled amount of original fossils and some world premieres: namely the only scientifically accurate spinosaurus skeleton in the world and the largest triceratops skeleton ever unearthed.

“What you are seeing here is really the greatest show on Earth, as far as dinosaurs are concerned,” said visiting palaeontologist Nizar Ibrahim, who could hardly contain his excitement during a preview tour of the fossils. “It was challenging to do this: like trying to assemble all of the most famous paintings [in the world] at the same time. These [fossils] are the Mona Lisas of the dinosaur world, and they are all here in Hong Kong. From a scientific point of view, these are the crème de la crème of dinosaurs. We couldn’t be happier.”

Fossils from the United States, Romania, Morocco and from private collections in Switzerland and Germany were pieced together to create the visual story. “There are so many ways this exhibit could get into the Guinness Book of World Records; it’s really mind-blowing,” Ibrahim added.

VIPs who attended the opening were invited to a series of intimate lunches and dinners at the museum to celebrate. In keeping with the dino theme, namecards, table settings and the decor were designed to reflect the most famous dinosaurs to walk the earth, swim the seas and soar in the sky.

The dinner, themed “Dinosaurs Unleashed”, saw eight of the city’s most respected chefs—a combined 20 Michelin stars between them—prepare an extensive culinary programme that tickled tastebuds and let imaginations fly. Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room, Siu Hin-chi of Ying Jee Club, Chan Yan-tak of Lung King Heen, Grand Hyatt pastry chef Smita Grosse, Guillaume Galliot of Caprice, Richard Ekkebus of Amber, Eric Räty of Arbor, Julien Tongourian of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Wong Lung-to of Forum all contributed to making the meal one to remember.

In between courses, touching speeches were made, including one by FIF managing director Amanda Cheung, and performances by piano prodigy Niu Niu and singing sensation Crisel Consunji were projected on the LED screens surrounding the dining area. A silent auction also had guests bidding on watches, art and wine in support of the foundation and its initiatives across art and education.

When Ong herself took to the stage, she said: “On this occasion, we have much to celebrate. Only through the unfailing commitment of all our supporters to uplift our community can we continue to provide meaningful educational experiences and programmes to benefit Hong Kong. I wish you all the most enjoyable day filled with fun, surprises and enduring mysteries of the lost world.”

The highlight of the day was an edible chocolate dinosaur that arrived on each table. Prepared by Chef Grosse, the detailed dino confections made the perfect Instagram moment, with guests posing with their sculptures, but many were too nervous to tuck into the masterpiece. It was a roar-some occasion with belly laughter and a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for many in attendance.

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