Earlier this week, Le Dîner en Blanc, the world’s coveted foodie event, marked its fifth year in New York with an impressive turnout of 5000 guests at Pier 26 in Downtown Manhattan. The event was sponsored by Perrier Jouët, Apothic wines, and Celebrity Cruises. It was organized by co-founders Aymeric Pasquier and Sandy Safi, and attendees were held in suspense about the event location until a few hours before the evening party. Guests were dressed in white and brought their own white chairs and white tablecloth-covered tables to the Tribeca event site. Award-winning Chef Todd English was part of Le Dîner en Blanc for the second time, and he created special dinners on site for those guests who ordered them in advance from the organization’s website.
I had the great opportunity to speak with co-founder Sandy Safi about the charm behind Le Dîner en Blanc and what lies ahead for its future:
How was the concept created for Le Dîner en Blanc?
The concept was actually created by François Pasquier, my partner’s father, in 1988 when he came back to Paris from having been abroad for a while and wanted to reunite with his friends. Basically, their backyard was Bois de Boulogne, a large public park, and his friends [met there] and were recognized by dressing in white. Le Dîner en Blanc stayed in Paris. It’s been there for 27 years. [François] is nearly 70 years old and he still single-handedly with a band of friends runs it organically. It’s amazing. You can’t buy tickets to the event. You just show up for the picnic and bring yourself. So there were 15,000 people there a couple of years ago.
What do you hope to do in the future? Are you trying to do other kinds of events?
So we have hundreds of requests from people wanting to hold it in their own cities. Now we’re 60 cities in the world doing this right now. Probably by next year we’ll be at 70 or 80. [We’ll also be] filtering through people and making sure we have the right fit with people that want to hold the event for the right reasons: for its community, for the idea of gathering with friends in a public location and organizing a dinner together. So as we filter through, we find the right people who we want to be a part of our network. We accept them and work with them so that they’re hosting events in their own cities. So tonight we’ve got with us a team from Brazil who’s going to be launching the event in October, and a team from Korea who’s going to be launching it in Seoul in May. We’ve got people from Philly, Toronto, Louisiana, and from all over as well.
If someone wants to do a smaller version of Le Dîner en Blanc- say 500 or 1000 people instead of 5000, are you accommodating to that?
Yes. In Montreal, there are smaller towns. They put on the best events. At the end of the day regardless, it’s a community event. It might have 800 people or 1000 people, but it’s a huge part of their populations.
What is your favorite part of the evening?
Meeting up with people I haven’t seen in a whole year. Meeting up with all of the volunteers again, meeting up with people that manage the area, and meeting up with friends that I don’t get to see unless when I’m in New York. It’s the human relation side of it. It’s saying ‘Thank you for being here and supporting it’ and ‘Thank you for looking amazing!’
Is there anything else that you want people to know about the event?
I think the idea that we’re launching in Korea and Brazil is huge and that people are traveling to New York to see the iconic event is really important. Hosting people from all over the world here is humbling; to know that people are coming all the way here to see it to take it back to their country, and make it their own is amazing. I have three partners this year in New York to help make this happen. One of them is Celebrity Cruises. They’re so into this and I’m so in love with everything they do. They gave macarons to everyone. They have the most amazing table contest which will give people a prize to Europe for 2 weeks- cruise, flight, hotel, everything paid for. People really put their heart and effort into decorating their own tables. So that’s incredible. Todd English made amazing picnic baskets.
After dinner, guests enjoyed dancing the night away and looked stunning in their white attire against the breathtaking backdrop of Downtown Manhattan and the Hudson River. The sense of community was definitely in full spirit. What an impressive, unforgettable event!