Diner en Blanc Vancouver (White Party of the Year) Recap

Follow Me Foodie’s Diner en Blanc in Vancouver Recap!

“White party of the year?” Sounds pretty racist, but let’s back track.

It was the 2nd Annual Diner en Blanc in Vancouver on Thursday, August 22 at TELUS World of Science (Science World). Now on its 25th anniversary, it is a global phenomenon which started in Paris that has spread to 40 cities on five continents.

Diner en Blanc (17)I attended the secret pop-up outdoor picnic last year at Jack Poole Plaza (see here), and was secretly anticipating the one this year. It was again hosted by Jordan Kallman and Tyson Villeneuve from The Social Concierge.

Diner en Blanc Vancouver - Mijune Pak Follow Me Foodie 1Mijune Pak of Follow Me Foodie. Photo from Maurice.

So why was I “secretly anticipating” it? Because I love and hate this event… although now I’m pretty sure I love it. Up until the day of the event I was still on the fence, and when I first heard about it, it sounded ridiculous.

Diner en Blanc (9)You’re charging $35 entrance fee and people get nothing? In fact, you don’t only get nothing, you have to find and rent your own table and chairs, bring your own cutlery and table settings, dress in white from head to toe, AND bring your own food and drink, or pay extra for the catered option. Really?

On top of that, you’re going to only sell tickets in pairs and keep the location a secret? People wait around all day until an hour before the event before you let them know where it is at? I know you’re in Vancouver, but what the heck are you smoking?!

People from everywhere dress to the the nines lugging around chairs, tables, food etc., to come to this party hosted by people they probably don’t even know. The idea sounded crazy and pretentious, but it attracted over 2500 people this year with 12,000 still on the wait list… and I absolutely get it. Whoever created this event, is a freaking genius.

Diner en Blanc (2)When you see it all happen and you’re there, it’s all worth it. It’s an incredible experience. Even if you’re not there, and you see all the photos, you want to go next year. Don’t you?! I do! And I was there. Here, I’ll show you more photos (courtesy of Maurice).

Diner en Blanc (7)No Canucks, but it’s tradition to have a little napkin waving before dinner.

Diner en Blanc (39)Photo from Jonathan Evans.

The “secret location” aspect is supposed to add to the spirit of the event, and I can’t imagine all the logistics involved, but they did a great job. You might not be getting anything tangible, but the memories and moment must be what Kodak is referring to. I get it.

The event includes live Parisian music, and you just get to be part of a very special event that happens once a year. (Yes, your birthday is very special too, but this is on another level).

Diner en Blanc (8)Unless your birthday looks like this…

Diner en Blanc (12)And in fact there were a couple birthdays (I’m sure there were many). My friend Pastry Chef Linda Lee of CakeByLinda made this gorgeous Diner en Blanc Marie Antoinette inspired cake for her table. Luckily, we’re friends… hook a sister up. It was red velvet and cream cheese.

Diner en Blanc (14)

Diner en Blanc (16)Guests bring their own epicurean meals, wine, non-disposable dinnerware, and table settings, or pre-order picnic-style dinner boxes from the exclusive caterer, which was Hawksworth restaurant this year. There was a $25 meal option from Bel Cafe (limited 200) and $50 meal option (limited 400).

Diner en Blanc (6)There is also a “Table d’Honneur” option for $125 which includes tables, chairs, cutlery etc., and a 3 course dinner by Hawksworth restaurant (limited 150 tickets). If you want to avoid the headache of renting and lugging around all your stuff, I would recommend this option for next year.

Diner en Blanc (38)Photo from Jonathan Evans.

A little behind the scenes of Hawksworth’s kitchen crew preparing food for 750+ people. It was an incredible team effort. I couldn’t help but to think who was holding down the fort at the restaurant since there was a Hawksworth army here… good job Chef de Cuisine Kristian Eligh and the rest of the Hawksworth team at the restaurant.

Diner en Blanc (31)Hawksworth hors d’oeuvres for the media.

Diner en Blanc (10)

Diner en Blanc (19)C’mon, when does something like this ever happen in Vancouver? It rains 9 months in the year and most of the time people are dressed casually, so this is a summer social and lifestyle event people look forward to.

Diner en Blanc (20)

Diner en Blanc (13)It gives people something to do, and if you’re into it, it is as exciting as Halloween, high school dances (back in the day), concerts, and Christmas (okay maybe not Christmas).

Diner en Blanc (37)There is also a traditional “sparkler time” where everyone lights sparklers at once. Photo from Jonathan Evans.

Diner en Blanc Vancouver - Mijune Pak Follow Me Foodie 2Partying isn’t what I do for a living, so I can’t call it “the party of the year”, but out of the things I do go to, this ranks high. Photo from Dan Poh Photography.

Diner en Blanc (33)People really put in an effort and went all out by bringing their own centre pieces, extravagant candle stands, wagons, flowers, and more.

Diner en Blanc (11)

Diner en Blanc (3)

Mijune Pak Follow Me Foodie and LA Kings Willie Mitchell Diner en Blanc VancouverMijune Pak of Follow Me Foodie, Willie Mitchell from the LA Kings and Phil Scarfone, sous chef at Hawksworth. Photo from Dan Poh Photography.

Other “notable attendees” included RBC Olympians: Scott Dickens, Swimming (2006, 2012); Scott Frandsen, Rowing (Olympics 2004, 2008, 2012); Kristi Richards, Freestyle Skiing (2006, 2010), Andrea Holmes, Para-Athletes; and Sylvia Kerfoot, Freestyle Skiing.

Diner en Blanc (36)The optional “surprise” after party (+$20/ticket) happened inside Science World.

8 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    I don’t care about Diner en Blanc. There you go, I said it. Then again, a lot of events aren’t things I do anyway, so nothing new on my side.

    As for why I don’t care about this, there are a lot of things for me to say about it but this article in the Straight lists several of them. Am I interested in it next year? I wasn’t last year nor next year, so I doubt I will be next year. Actually, it would be funny if somebody was to crash it next year wearing some weird colour just to disrupt this event. After all, it is in public area and (to my understanding) they don’t necessarily have permission/licencing from city hall…

  • Mijune says:

    @KimHo – They have to do licensing for this event. Btw did you read the comments on that Georgia Straight article? Most of them are pretty well thought out… but you can have your opinion 🙂

  • JL says:

    I have the exact same dress and was gonna wear it to the party!

  • Mijune says:

    @JL – lol what are the chances?

  • KimHo says:

    In the Straight article, the author writes about the social facade of the event. On the other hand, most of the comments are about giving excuses as to why they chose to attend the event. Basically, they chose to ignore most of what the author wrote about. And, that is the tip of the iceberg. As for myself, I have additional “beefs”:

    1) OK, permission/licencing was obtained from City Hall. What if somebody found that out and popped it out ahead of time? After all, a lot of City Hall records are public… But, the original intent was to just crash/flash mob a place. So, in a way, it defeats the purpose, unless…
    2) Because of the restrictions, it is technically a private event. In our Twitter discussion about authenticity, we talked about what is the meaning of authentic and we sort of agree it is about intent. The original event was about having friends join in such “meal”. However, there is no cost associated with it. This setting pretty much squash the intent.
    3) Aside from a cake and some hors d’oeuvres, I don’t recall seeing pictures of food people brought or those served by caterers (again, going back to the private event above). As the name suggests, it is called “Diner en Blanc”, not “Let’s have a party dressed in white!”. Anyway, in a way, it feels it is more of a seen-and-be-seen type event, which, in a not necessarily ironic way, it is a Vancouver thing.
    4) And the ironic part about #3? A couple dressed in XVIII century style. Can somebody say “let them eat cake”? (Which, of course, it wasn’t the exact phrase, but, alas, it has gone into the anals of history as such).

  • LotusRapper says:

    You look smashing, Mijune !! 😀

    Wait, I see some folks wearing “off-white” in the pics, LOL.

    @Kim – you hoping for a Johnny Cash (man in black) impersonator to crash the party ? 😉

  • infosekr says:

    I was on the fence about going to this event. My first impression from the photos was of an event trying to hard to achieve something fake, it just seemed a little pretentious. But after experiencing Diner en Blanc I have to say I had a great time. The atmosphere seemed a lot more lighthearted than I expected for Vancouver. It was great to see people pull out the stops, dress a bit more fancy, and relax more. I met quite a few people that were eager to chat, to share their food and a smile, and also their sentiment that we needed more of these kinds of events to get Vancouver to lighten up a little. It was a fun break from the ordinary, and a chance to meet some new warmhearted Vancouverites.

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