Clad in only the most elegant all-white attire, Le Dîner en Blanc guests flocked to the Wagner Park waterfront in Battery Park City last Thursday, a secret locale revealed just minutes before the start of the event.
Le Dîner en Blanc is a pop-up soirée dedicated to foodies and those with a passion for community, high-class dining and entertainment. In attendance was Grace Capobianco, CEO and owner of Downtown Magazine.
“Every second was magical,” began Grace. “Two of the most exciting moments of the night are engrained in my mind forever. The first one is the recurring ritual, which starts the dinner. Each year Aymeric Pasquier, Co-Founder and Partner of Dîner en Blanc, announces the start of the dinner by having everyone twirl their white linen napkins, yelling with excitement. The second one was this year’s surprise from the John J. Harvey Fireboat, which gave us a private show, with a visual of the Statue of Liberty standing in the background on this marvelous September 15, 2016 evening.”
Continued Grace: “If there is one negative to be written, it would be that the world should join in on this illustrious occasion — world peace would surely follow!”
- All guests must wear fashionable, all-white clothing only.
- Guests must bring their own square folding table, white tablecloth and two white folding chairs.
- Guests must bring their own gourmet food for two in a white picnic basket or bag.
- Guests must bring all utensils necessary for their meal including cutlery, garbage bags, dishes and glassware.
- Guests at the New York City location who wish to drink must order Apothic Wine and Moet Champagne and reserve such online.
- Guests must wait for their section to be completely set up before seating.To keep the secret location well, a secret, guests meet at a designated departure site somewhere in the city where their group leader leads them to the event.Catering is also available to purchase prior to the affair. Celebrity chef Todd English leads the culinary forefront of Le Dîner en Blanc NYC, featuring picnic baskets with themed meals.
Sandy Safi, Co-founder and Partner of Le Dîner en Blanc International, believes this unique event is more than a fancy party for invitees only. On the surface, Le Dîner en Blanc features exceptional décor, cuisine and costumes. However, it is those who come bearing such additions that make the event truly something.
“Every person is a participant making it happen, so everybody is a player in this game and a piece of the puzzle, which has made it so much more fascinating and interesting,” Safi said.
According to Safi, there is an underlying creative element of the dream-like evening.
“[Le Dîner en Blanc] is timely, it’s orchestrated. People coming together like this in itself is a piece of art. And coming together in such an organized fashion for something so unique is quite artistic,” Safi added.
Those who attended partook in the world’s most chic dinner party, an occasion so exclusive there are three “phases” in order to receive an invitation, with the third phase being open to individuals who placed their name on the waitlist on a “first come, first served” basis. The New York City waitlist for this year’s dinner was 45,000 people long, while only roughly 4,800 attended.
This French-inspired evening holds true to its traditions while acclimating itself to the city each event takes place in. Dîner en Blanc NYC possesses diversity, a trait suitable to the Big Apple.
Christine Tripoli Krische, Looking Glass Event Group’s founder and president, was new to the Le Dîner en Blanc scene as she took on a role as a host for the NYC event. As a newcomer to this event, Krische was able to capture the essence of what makes Le Dîner en Blanc NYC so special.
“[Le Dîner en Blanc] is trying to create something that is very New York but has a very international feeling. It’s almost like using New York as a palette for this very interesting painting,” Krische noted. “We have a lot of groups, all kinds of people that represent all of the diversity of New York. To see and bring them all together at one place in one time, it’s such an elegant setting…and bringing it to a public space is amazing.”
“The food is our greatest democracy. When you gather around the table, you’re all created equal,” English stated.
As the attendees gathered in Battery Park City, a mutual understanding of celebration occurred in what made a happy and harmonious evening.
English added: “I believe that [food] breaks down all of the barriers. When you sit around a table it doesn’t matter what economic or cultur[al background you have]. We all have to eat, we all have to nourish ourselves so this is a really nourishing way to celebrate our time on this planet and our time in life. That’s really what this is about, and I think if you don’t [celebrate], you’re really missing life.”
Downtown also had the pleasure of catching up with Shari C. Hyman, President and COO of the Battery Park City Authority:
What was it like to host Dîner en Blanc, a world-famous event now in 70 countries right here in Battery Park City, Wagner Park?
Shari C. Hyman: It was all in all a beautiful evening. Just perfect weather, an elegant, diverse, and relaxed crowd, and the breathtaking backdrop of Wagner Park and the New York Harbor. A nice escape, if but for a few hours, from the hustle and grit of the city at large. This was the second time we played host to Dîner en Blanc — the first was up in Rockefeller Park two years ago –- and each setting has been spectacular and unique in its own way.
You mentioned having dinner next-door at Gigino’s that evening. Tell us how you felt and what you saw while looking out at the event…
SCH: It felt like we were witnessing something very special in the very best neighborhood of New York City. You know, seeing pictures of past events or viewing it from afar really doesn’t do it justice, only up close can you really appreciate the breadth of the magic the evening entails. While we sat, guests kept walking by and asking, amusedly, “Wow, so you just happened to be having dinner out here? How wonderful!” They had no idea who I was, and it wasn’t important that they did. But we’d nod and then think to ourselves, “If they only knew all the planning that went into this!”
Was Le Dîner en Blanc all that you thought it would be, and how was the area left after the event?
SCH: It was all we thought it might be and more. Our other large scale event in Wagner Park each year is the Swedish Midsummer Festival, and Dîner en Blanc exceeded even that. Of course, in our role as a permitting entity we’re enjoying the festivities while also always keeping one eye on the practical matters. Let’s keep an eye on the lawn to make sure it’s not torn up. Let’s make sure the music isn’t too loud, or runs too late, or reaches too far beyond the park’s boundaries. Let’s make sure the garbage is picked up timely, and the stage and tables are broken down…
I’m happy to report the event gets high marks on all of the above. The next morning Wagner Park was pristine. That’s a tribute to the organizers, the guests, and, of course, our stellar Battery Park City Parks staff. Beyond this event alone, they do an incredible job every day keeping our parks the jewel in the crown of this great neighborhood.
How was it working with the Dîner en Blanc team?
SCH: The Dîner en Blanc team was what you might expect for a world-class event — practiced, professional, and competent. They met the exact requirements we’d need to permit an event of this magnitude, and did it with timeliness and attention-to-detail. It’s quite the logistical operation once they get started but you can tell, looking across that event as it unfolds, that they really do have it down to a science.
Would you have them back again?
SCH: The Dîner en Blanc organizers were outstanding partners and we’d love to explore the possibility of future events in Battery Park City. Of course, we couldn’t share the details just yet!