The New York City Dîner en Blanc, the pop-up white dinner for thousands is returning to a new surprise location in just two weeks. With previous appearances at Bryant Park, Lincoln Center (check out our timelapse video of the event), Nelson A. Rockefeller Park and the World Financial Center, this fifth edition of the flash mob dinner will be the largest yet with 5000 guests. While the Paris Dîner en Blanc, most recently taking place at the Palais Royal, now counts up to 15,000 guests, the New York City dinner is catching up–and with a 35,000 person waitlist. The New York City dinner, unsurprisingly, also comes with some star power.
Chef and restauranteur Todd English is back again to curate the picnic boxes available through the Le Dîner en Blanc website, which became available yesterday. We caught up with English by phone this week to ask the four-time James Beard Award winner how the meals reflect the spirit of the Dîner en Blanc. He tells us he aims to “give interesting flavors and combinations, using the New York City food scene as a background” but adding an “eclectic mix of what New York City is about.” It remains Parisian inspired, but with an international, New York flavor.
This year, the picnic box offering includes a poached salmon with shaved zucchini, wild mushrooms and sauce verte, rosemary and garlic marinated spring lamb with fingerling potato salad and tzatziki, an orzo pasta with heirloom tomato, feta and basil pesto, and chicken milanese with baby arugula, heirloom tomato, pickled shallot and sherry vinaigrette. But the side dishes are what really reflect the internationalism English speaks about, with touches of Keffir lime, Harrisa (a Tunisian hot chili pepper), and other ingredients.
English will also be presenting in person one dinner for four to a guest that wins through Le Dîner en Blanc’s social media platforms. The meal includes caviar, creations from English’s Ça Va Brasserie and classic cocktails he’s still putting together.
We also asked English about what advice he would give to Dîner en Blanc attendees going for the first time. After all, the thought of carrying table, chairs, all the table settings and the food through the New York City subway and the streets can be daunting. He says, “Have fun with it. Deck it out and don’t hold back. Bring your best game.” And truly, the Dîner en Blanc is that rare event where its simply about enjoying a moment in a grand public space with thousands of other urban enthusiasts.
And who can forget about the alcohol? As open carry is not allowed in public spaces in New York City, guests purchase alcohol through a caterer and pick up the bottles on site. This year Apothic Wine is the official wine sponsor of the all the dinners in the United States and Perrier-Jouët as the official champagne sponsor for the 2015 edition of Dîner en Blanc in New York and Miami.
Registration for this year’s event in New York City is now closed but you can sign up for the waitlist for future events, but your best bet is to get an invite from a friend as the spirit of the Dîner en Blanc has always been about sharing the event with those who have come before. Stay tuned on Untapped Cities for our behind-the-scenes photos of this year’s dinner.