Dîner en Blanc is a pop-up dining phenomenon that originated in Paris. I have to admit, when I first heard about Dîner en Blanc coming to Vancouver, I kind of had mixed feelings about it. The registration system and process, which was phased and open only at specific times, was confusing to say the least. The long list of rules that you had to abide by. That you had to purchase your wine from them ahead of time. That I didn’t own a pair of white pants, and would have to buy a pair.
Then I asked myself, when was the last time anything like this happened in Vancouver? And I realized that it was being put on by Tyson Villeneuve and Jordan Kallman, the gentlemen who run The Social Concierge. Having been to several of their events before, I knew that this was going to be another great one. And I watched this video from Dîner en Blanc (Montreal), and I was sold. And I’m sure glad I went. The event was truly surreal and awesome in every way.
1,200 people signed up for this event, which sold out instantly, with over 4,000 other people on the waiting list. The location of the event was to remain a secret until an hour before.
The meeting spot for our group was at Kitsilano Beach. It was here that we were to load our tables and chairs (yes, we had to bring our own) onto the coach buses. We boarded the buses and headed into downtown, still unaware of our destination. As we got closer to the Vancouver Convention Centre, it became apparent that that was where we were headed. Don’t ask me why, but I had a sneaking suspicion earlier that day that that’s where it was going to be. Indeed, the event was held at the Jack Poole Plaza, home of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Cauldron. We were the first group to arrive, but it wasn’t long before the rest of the people started flowing in by the hundreds. It was a little chaotic and difficult to figure out what we were supposed to be doing once we arrived. As you can probably imagine, it’s pretty easy to get lost in a white-clad mob. Luckily, our group leader was smart enough to ask us to bring red and pink roses, which really helped our group members stand out. It was really quite the sight, watching hundreds of people assembling their tables into long rows.
We packed some Bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwiches), some grape tomatoes and snap peas, hummus, and herbed goat cheese and crackers. It seemed like an appropriate and somewhat French-inspired (or influenced) dinner. Alternatively, if you didn’t opt to bring your own food, you had the option of paying $50 for a charcuterie prepared by Top Chef Canada‘s Dale Mackay. The couple sitting next to us had it and it didn’t really look like anything special. It was small, and included brie, pate, chorizo, pasta, baguette, candied almonds and panna cotta.
It was really interesting looking at what others brought. I saw a lot of charcuterie plates. But it was this ice sculpture that I saw at a nearby table that really stood out. Impressive!
Keeping with the Diner en Blanc tradition, sparklers were handed out to everybody and they were all lit at once. This was an amazing sight!
Les Noces Gitanes, a Parisienne jazz band took the stage soon after and provided some terrific live entertainment. It got a lot of people out of their chairs and dancing.
All in all, it was an awesome event. May and I are so glad that we decided to go. We can’t wait to go again next year! If you want in, you should head on over to the Diner en Blanc website and get registered to get in the know and stay in the loop.