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Pop-up feast blends spontaneity and fun

Global phenomenon Dîner en Blanc to debut in Edmonton

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 06:00 am

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  • WHITE MEAL – Diner en Blanc is a spontaneous meal held at a picturesque location that's kept secret until just hours before the event. It's been held in many cities worldwide (such as Vancouver, pictured here) and will make its Edmonton debut in July.
    WHITE MEAL – Diner en Blanc is a spontaneous meal held at a picturesque location that's kept secret until just hours before the event. It's been held in many cities worldwide (such as Vancouver, pictured here) and will make its Edmonton debut in July.
    Supplied photo
  • SPARKLING EVENT – This sparkler ceremony, which took place in Victoria, is part of every Diner en Blanc event.
    SPARKLING EVENT – This sparkler ceremony, which took place in Victoria, is part of every Diner en Blanc event.

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There are pop-up picnics and then there is Le Dîner en Blanc.

Sponsored across the world in 50 major cities, Le Dîner en Blanc is an epicurean delight and quite possibly the world’s largest alfresco dinner party.

And as it celebrates its 25th anniversary worldwide, it arrives in Edmonton at a secret location on Thursday, July 17.

This inaugural affair is designed as an unforgettable evening of elegance, sophistication, beauty and je ne sais quoi. Diners gather at a secret location solely for the purpose of experiencing a high-quality meal with good friends in a beautiful location.

To create a mark of exclusivity, a major criterion is that all guests be dressed head to toe in white – ergo the moniker Dîner en Blanc. In fact, guest attire and table settings must only be in white.

Several hours before the dinner, guests will rally at four muster points where they will be directed to an undisclosed public space.

Guests are required to bring table and chairs; linen tablecloth and serviettes; and dishes, stemware and cutlery. They can bring their own repast or pre-order from a selection of three options.

Entertainment is provided and after the dining and dancing and all-around joie-de-vivre is over, guests pack up their dishes, their empty wine bottles and leave the landmark in immaculate condition.

“This is a chance to be part of something unique, to create something from nothing and to share a different experience,” said host and event planner Christina Ignacio-Deines.

Francois Pasquier launched the first Dîner en Blanc over 25 years ago for a few friends. He had returned to Paris and wanted to reconnect with a coterie of friends.

Usually the banquet’s location is held at an iconic landmark. In Paris, the banquet has been held in view of the Eiffel Tower and in the plaza of Notre Dame Cathedral. More than 10,000 now attend.

In Vancouver, foodies sat beside the 2010 winter Olympic torch and, in Victoria, the inaugural Dîner en Blanc was held at the university campus.

“The idea is you don’t just pick an iconic place, but a surprising place,” Ignacio-Deines says.

Hosts have prepared tickets for 1,000 guests. Diners will have the option to order a three-course dinner created by executive chef Paul Shufelt of Century Hospitality. Menu choices for the entrée range from mahi tuna to roast chicken to a vegetarian option of mushroom strudel. French wine and champagne will be served.

Despite all the discreet planning, there is an emphasis on spontaneity and fun.

“It’s international in scope, but it will be locally flavoured.”

Tickets are $35 per person and everyone is encouraged to have a partner. The dinner is an additional $42 to $48 depending on menu choices.

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, July 25. To purchase visit www.dinerenblanc.info/.


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