Dîner en Blanc hit NYC yesterday with a snowfall of white. Returning for its 7th year, the exclusive pop-up phenomenon keeps perfecting the recipe for the yearly picnic. And this year, we returned to Lincoln Center.
At the fabulous dinner party, I had the pleasure of asking Gilles Amsallem a few questions. Gilles and I go way back, and I met him years ago when French Tuesdays was just starting out. Gilles is the COO and Co-Founder of French Tuesdays — cool, chic, elegant parties promoting sexy French lifestyle; the parties to be seen and photographed at.
French Tuesdays are still popular events to attend, but now more of a global affair. Gilles, a French transplant, lives in L.A. but spends most of his time traveling with his incredible work.
His philosophy? Live life to the fullest, make the best of what you have and own, don’t ever regret, don’t look back, surround yourself with positive happy people, move forward and you will always be happy!
For the past 6 years, he has been partnering with Dîner en Blanc, and he was as excited yesterday to attend the dinner party as he was his very first one. Gilles was more than thrilled to share his many partners, without whom Dîner en Blanc would not be the same.
Photo by Eric Vitale
How did your company get involved?
Gilles Amsallem: The first city I was involved with was NYC. It can be difficult finding just the right partners for a huge undertaking like this. With my extensive experience, I was able to help Dîner en Blanc find partners here in the US, as they are from Canada — they needed local partners, and someone said ‘you should contact this company,’ which was mine…
Where is French Tuesdays today?
GA: They’re still happening every month in Asia, Europe, and such. All the big places closed in NYC. Today, it’s one per month in NY, Miami, and L.A. — it’s still a beautiful platform of people we work with, we have an exceptional database and a really good mix of high-end partners.
What is it like working with Dîner en Blanc?
GA: It’s great, we’re here with more great partners this year — Kenwood Vineyards, Evian Badiot water, Canard-Duchêne Champagne, and Covergirl –partnering with Covergirl was especially exciting, as we had a beauty bar makeup, with step and repeat and lots of social media.
Tell me more about the management of Dîner en Blanc?
GA: The crowd can be not so exclusive, you can’t control the crowd — you can control 70-80 percent of the crowd. Last year, we had 49,000 people on the wait list. It took less than 18 minutes to sell out stage 3. And there are 120 volunteers, who all have full-time jobs.
One word to describe this year’s location?
Tell me about chefs?
GA: We have to work with people we trust to keep it growing.
Tell me something that no one knows?
GA: We expect another level 65 percent increase — we will double business next year. We are working on activation and big sponsors, and we are marketing the bi-cultural affair — the fact that Dîner en Blanc is in Europe and all over the world shows we are a trusted brand and from each country, we learn so much for the next Dîner en Blanc.
Photo by Hal Horowitz
A truly magical evening, no doubt. And every year seems to be better than the last. This year, Lincoln Center once again made for the perfect backdrop. In 2012 it was held at Lincoln Center, too.
Not knowing where the dinner is held makes the experience even more exclusive and exciting. Every one of us dressed in our all-white ensembles, making our way from the meeting points to the secret location, with tables, chairs, and china. A sight for sore eyes, I’m sure.
Photo by Hal Horowitz
The whole dinner party runs smoothly, like clockwork everyone arrived between 6 and 6:30 pm, and per tradition, we each waved our white napkins to signal the official start of the dinner at 7 pm.
Some had brought fabulous picnic spreads themselves, while others opted for the special dinner prepared by famous chef Todd English.
Photo by Hal Horowitz
And then, of course, commenced the dancing. Now, if you know me, you also know where to find me when there’s dancing involved…
Roughly 5,200 people found their way to this year’s Dîner en Blanc, and the excitement and joy were felt everywhere. I can’t wait for next year’s gathering. I wonder what the terrific team behind the dinner will come up with then, and what location we can expect. Might we wish for Downtown again?