Le Diner en Blanc
What’s now being called a “worldwide epicurean phenomenon” hit Cincinnati for the first time last year, and is set to return on September 7. At Le Diner en Blanc 2013, 1,750 guests dressed from head-to-toe in white will head to a secret location. Once there, they’ll indulge in delicious food and celebrate the night away.
Diner en Blanc came to Cincinnati last September and is co-founded and co-hosted by Bill Baumann. Last year, the event was held in Lytle Park, adjacent to the Taft Museum in the historic district of East Fourth Street.
“Dressed in stylish white attire, guests carried their own tables, chairs, fine china and silverware, linens and gourmet picnic baskets,” Baumann explains. “Guests made new friends as they set up their spot for the evening listening to music by Edith Piaf, Pink Martini and Nat King Cole.”
The Matt Anklan Jazz Band entertained the crowd during dinner while jazz singers Annette Shepherd, Meghan Tarkington and Blaine Krauss performed. DJ French Ben finished out the night as guests danced under lit trees.
Just as you would assume, decorations and all attire at Diner en Blanc are white – except the flowers. Those are full of beautiful colors that add flair to the fabulous evening.
The first Diner en Blanc was held in Paris 25 years ago and is now held in 40 major cities worldwide including London, Berlin, New York, Paris and, now, Cincinnati. “It is a fun, ‘pop-up’ community picnic where guests dressed in stylish white attire bring elegant picnic dinners, wine, flowers, white chairs and a small table for two to a ‘secret’ location not disclosed until the evening of the event,” Baumann says.
Baumann and his wife decided to bring Diner en Blanc to Cincinnati after they saw photos in the New York Times detailing the Paris Diner en Blanc where 6,000 people gathered at the Louvre and another 4,000 met outside the Cathedral of Notre Dame. “The history of Diner en Blanc, the gathering of people from many neighborhoods, and that it is held in a ‘secret’ location in the city inspired us to wonder how spectacular a Diner en Blanc could be in Cincinnati,” he adds.
Baumann says he thinks the response to Diner en Blanc has been so overwhelmingly positive because its the guests who actually create it. “They plan and conceive their picnics and tables, often with many friends weeks in advance,” he says. “It’s really the ‘journey’ of preparing for the evening, and then the magic of Diner en Blanc with music, lights in trees and the community of people from all over our city sharing a meal together in a beautiful, unexpected place.”
Diner en Blanc is all about friends inviting friends. It’s also about the surprise of having dinner in an unexpected location. People from many different neighborhoods come together to celebrate the city of Cincinnati and the end of summer.
There are a number of local organizers who have worked hard to put the event together, starting with co-founders and co-hosts Baumann and his wife Kate. Senior co-organizers include Drew McKenzie, Amanda McDonald, Kelly Hornback, Candice Clark-Young and Madalyn Mills.
Amy Hunter, Erica Eastman, Ginger Foster, Collean Kearney, Emily Earls and Karen Crawford are this year’s co-organizers as well as 40 group and table leaders. The leaders coordinate directly with the event’s 1,750 guests and help to undertake the event, Baumann explains.
Mumm, a French champagne, is the primary sponsor for this year’s event. They’ll be supplying more than 100 bottles of champagne and one bottle will be give out to three lucky winners on each of the 35 buses on their way from the Departure Locations to the event’s “secret” location.
There are three contests at this year’s event. The first is “The Art of the Table,” and recognizes the most elegant and creative table at Le Diner en Blanc 2013. Baumann says the winner will receive a dinner for six, accompanied by Mumm Champagne. The meal will be prepared by French Master Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel of Jean-Robert’s Table restaurant where guests can enjoy the French culinary tradition with just the right combination of Jean-Robert’s contemporary touch.
The event will also include a “Most Elegant Lady” and “Most Elegant Gentleman.” The winners of these two contests will also winner a dinner for six. For the ladies, the dinner will be accompanied by Mumm Champagne and will be prepared by Hilton Signature Chef Todd Kelly at the the award-winning Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati’s top restaurant. The gentlemen, dinner will be at John Zipperstein and Hideki Haroda’s Japanese GastroPub and sushi bar, KAZE, and accompanied by Mumm Champagne.
Although tickets for this year’s even are already sold out, you can sign up to receive an invitation for the 2014 Diner en Blanc beginning September 8. To sign up for the event’s Wait List, visit Diner en Blanc’s Website.
To learn more about Diner en Blanc, head to the event’s Facebook Page or check out their website at www.cincinnati.dinerenblanc.info. You can also view the 2012 Diner en Blanc Video.
Photo: Co-hosts of Cincinnati’s Diner en Blanc Bill and Kate Baumann with daughter Lauren Baumann Hagin.