Le Dîner en Blanc 2016: A magical culinary evening in New York City
At the event:
Last Thursday, Le Dîner en Blanc, a legendary international culinary event, hosted its 6th annual pop-up dinner in New York City’s Robert Wagner Park in Battery Park City. 5000 people attended this spectacular evening, all wearing white attire and accessories. The event was sponsored by Moët and Chandon and Apothic Wines. The setting was beautiful and a surprise to everyone until a short time prior to the event. Guests brought their own tables, chairs, and picnic baskets. Decorations for their table centerpieces included candelabras, flowers, and caged doves. Chef Todd English was also at the event preparing curated cuisine for guests as well. It was a breathtaking vision to see how the event came alive.
Le Dîner en Blanc started in Paris almost 30 years ago and is now in 70 cities worldwide. I had the opportunity to speak with two of the this year's co-hosts for New York City’s Dîner en Blanc, Linda Davis and Peter Kohlmann, about their insights on the event and more. Take a look at our conversation:
Lesley Reider: Tell me about what makes Dîner en Blanc special. What’s different about this year’s Dîner en Blanc in New York?
Linda Davis: People look for a beautiful evening to share their food, wine and champagne, and to come together as total strangers and meet new friends. It’s such a cross-section of the city. Anyone can buy a ticket, up to 2 tickets. Once they buy their ticket, they only know where they’re meeting. We have leaders all over the city to bring them here. So no one knows where they’re going until they’re on the train, on the way over. The boat is different. The setting is different. It’s an antique boat that we rented that dates back to the 1900s. We said we were having a corporate picnic. We’d never tell anyone what we’re doing. Even the band didn’t know until it arrived. They only knew that they needed to wear white and where to go and what time. Our DJ didn’t know until this morning. So it’s a really closely kept secret. We want to keep the whole premise a surprise for your location.
Peter Kohlmann: Yes, the boat’s a little over 50 years old. It’s an old New York City fire boat rescued by a group of people. They go on the river to keep it alive. They preserved it...the John Harvey. When it was built, it was the strongest fire boat that existed at the time.
LR: Tell me a bit more about the location.
PK: It was very challenging [on a production level].There are 3 or 4 different areas here. As far as laying out the tables, providing enough lighting and sound for the whole group was pretty crazy. And then, there’s a group of people laying out these tables carefully among a garden that is precious to us.
LD: I love this location. Battery Park was very gracious to us to be here.
PK: The Battery Park authority did a great job of working with us, getting it all setup. Their staff was terrific. It’s a good partnership and a unique location.
LD: Peter is based here, [as is our other co-host Christine Tripoli Krische], and I’m based in Washington. Their knowledge of the city and of this kind of infrastructure [was valuable] in building it out so that guests are feeling equally part of the event.
LR: How did you both get involved with Dîner En Blanc?
PK: It’s a little long story because a few months ago they were putting out word for event producers to help host to help them put this event together. Within a short time, we went through a process and we were selected. We’ve been working with the International Dîner En Blanc to get acclimated with the help of Linda, [who produces 3 other Dîner En Blanc events].
LD: So I came in with the background knowledge of Dîner En Blanc and Peter and Christine came with the total event production knowledge. So we’ve been a fantastic team together.
LR: Is there anything you can elaborate on throughout the night that we can expect?
PD: Obviously, more music.This band [in the background] is the Apple & Jazz Band. There’s going to be a little piece from a Broadway singer from An American in Paris. He’s going to sing a couple of songs and then we’re going to go into DJ mode.
LD: Dance party!
What a magical evening!