Dîner En Blanc: A magical evening celebrating in New York City

Photo by: Jane Kratochvil

Photo by: Eric Vitale

Photo by: Eric Vitale

Photo by: Jane Kratochvil

Photo by: Jane Kratochvil

Photo by: Jane Kratochvil

Chef Marc Forgione                Photo by: Eric Vitale

 

Photo by: Eric Vitale

Photo by: Eric Vitale

The Knot proposal
Photo by: Eric Vitale

Dîner en Blanc is one of my favorite events in the city. So I was delighted to attend the event last Monday. This year marks its 8th consecutive year in New York City and over 6500 guests attended, more than any of the previous years. Everyone was beautifully dressed in white and brought white chairs, white tables, and innovative white decorations. Our unique destination and venue ended up being Governor’s Island. It couldn’t be a more perfect venue for the occasion! We had spectacular views of the city, ample space to roam around, a great mix of music, and an all-around wonderful ambience.

Official partners for the event included Champagne Jacquart and The Knot as well as Luxury Retreats, Sofitel and ONEHOPE as the 2018 Le Dîner en Blanc U.S. national partners. Also, Michelin Star recipient restaurateur Marc Forgione curated four special picnic baskets for guests, his first time showcasing his culinary talents at Dîner en Blanc.

I had the opportunity to speak to one of this year’s Dîner en Blanc organizers, Christine Tripoli about her fascinating experience with Dîner en Blanc:

 

Lesley Reider: What attracted you to be a part of Dîner en Blanc?

Christine Tripoli: This is the second Dîner en Blanc that I’ve worked on. The first one was in 2016 which was at Wagner Park. I’ve been working on large scale, massive events in New York City for a long time and when the opportunity came across my desk to be part of Dîner en Blanc, it had all of the things that I love- it’s large scale, exciting, and complicated. And what I really love about it is that it celebrates what’s so amazing about New York City and that is first of all, the location of New York City and its amazing places, as well as the diversity and the creativity of the people of New York. So all of that in one night! I thought it would be a challenge and interesting, and that’s what attracted me to it. And it has been interesting and a challenge. Everything I love!

LR: How you do you decide who works with you? How do you all go about picking the location?

CT: As far as how our co-hosts came together, there’s a team of 4 of us who are the co-hosts this year. I’m one of them. Then there’s Peter Kohlmann from PEKO Productions. Peter and I have worked together for many years. We actually started working together in Times Square where we produced New Years Eve in Times Square for many years as well as the Millennium Celebration. So he and I have a lot of history. And then we partnered up with Linda Davis and Kaitlin Davis who are from the Davis Group, and they produced the Washington DC edition of it. So we put their experience in Dîner en Blanc, which goes back a little longer than ours, together with our experience in doing massive events in New York. It really makes for a great combination and between the four of us, we have 80 to 90 years of experience. We’re a great group and we work well together.

As far as choosing the location, New York City as big as the city is, requires a pretty big footprint to accommodate all of the guests. We have so many people on the waiting list and we want to get in as many people as we can. We had somewhere around 6500 attendees. To find a location in New York City is really complicated because there are so many city regulations and appropriate spaces. We have to work very closely with whoever owns or maintains the space to make this happen. So it’s always a challenge in New York. We’ll visit dozens of locations every year.

LR: What kind of entertainment takes place during the event?

CT: We have a beautiful dinner band, The Avalon Jazz Band. They do classic French Jazz, and they have a magnificent lead singer. We also have roaming performers who are filtering out throughout the site. Then of course we have a DJ: DJ Brian B brought to us by the Knot, who is one of our partners this year and he’s fantastic.

LR: What drew you into the event planning space?

CT: Many years ago, I started my career as a public relations person at Rubenstein. The kind of projects I worked on were these large scale events like the first Restaurant Day and the first Broadway on Broadway. I worked all of this as a publicist, and I managed media for these events. I loved the excitement, energy, and everything that comes with these big citywide events. And then I had an opportunity to go work at the Times Square Alliance.

 I’m one of those people who can see the big picture and really understands how the guest experience should be and how you want to connect with your audiences. But I also get all the little details. That’s my temperament and what makes me able to be effective in my work. I like to do something different every day. I get bored very easily and I love new projects. Events allow you that. There’s a finite beginning and there’s a finite end. And then you move on to the next thing. I enjoy that because every day my day is different.

LR: Is there anything else you want to add?

CT: What makes this event truly so special is the fact that it truly represents New York City just like every other Dîner en Blanc in their city. Our attendees are as diverse as the city is. They’re dedicated, energetic, and excited. They do have to do quite a bit of preparation to participate in this event. There’s a lot of great spirit. For one night during the year in New York, there are over 6000 people together where nothing separates them.  They’re united all dressed in white. They’re as diverse as they can be and they’re all joyous. That’s what make this event so special and that’s why I love working on it.

What a memorable celebration!

 

Watch you want: Casio G-MS collection

Photo by: Casio

Photo by: Casio

Photo by: Casio

A watch always makes a powerful statement. So I am so excited that I discovered Casio’s latest collection of women’s watches, G-MS. This collection features styles that are modern, classy, and sporty. Each watch has premium design materials such as a durable resin band, a metal buckle, and a stainless steel dial. There are styles with rose gold bezel and a style with silver bezel. They pair well with a work outfit or a gym set- perfect for all day wear. Moreover, the watches are shock resistant, water resistant, and solar powered. I also love the world time and LED light features.

The watches are sophisticated with hip, casual accents. They’re perfect for women with active lifestyles that appreciate innovative design. The watches are also lightweight and comfortable. You can choose from a white resin band with rose gold bezel, a black resin band with rose gold bezel, a white resin band with rose gold bezel accents, and a white resin band with silver bezel. G-MS styles range from $150 to $170 and are available at select jewelers, shopcasio.com, and the G-SHOCK Soho store. These watches are uniquely innovative with elevated style. I am so thrilled about the gorgeous collection!

City Flavors – A Taste of Local Bites: A feast for the palate and soul

A few weeks ago, I attended City Flavors – A Taste of Local Bites at the Highline. The event showcased 20 up and coming food entrepreneurs that prepared a great mix of savory food, vegan delights, and desserts. These individuals are residents of New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings and Food Business Pathways (FBP) graduates. FBP is an 11-week program backed by Citi Community Development that trains residents on how to launch their food businesses. It gives them a wealth of new opportunities and resources to reach their goals. The event raised funding to help FBP graduates grow their ventures.

All 20 up and coming food entrepreneurs paired up with mentors from NYC’s top restaurants and food vendors. Some of these mentors included: Bill Telepan, Executive Chef at Oceana; Ardenia Brown, owner of Buttermilk Market; Jessica Weiss, pastry chef for four of Union Square Hospitality Group’s restaurants; and McKenzie Foster and Marco Lanuto, chefs and owners of FryGuys. Food tastings at the party included: banana cream pie pudding, mac and cheese, chicken empanadas, watermelon and feta salad, fried chicken bites, and chocolate cupcakes. Guests also enjoyed GuS – Grown-up Soda, wines by Martha Clara Vineyards, and some lively musical entertainment.

City Flavors – A Taste of Local Bites led to some new business opportunities for many of the FBP participants. I loved seeing the entrepreneurs’ innovative talents and passion. I’m glad that City Flavors – A Taste of Local Bites celebrated these 2 attributes and had a successful turnout. The FBP program has a significant impact on the NYHRA community. Here’s looking forward to next year’s event!

South Beach at Long Branch: An intimate opening presentation

 

South Beach at Long Branch infinity pool rendering (Photo courtesy of South Beach at Long Branch)

South Beach Condominium 301
(Photo courtesy of South Beach at Long Branch)

South Beach Condominium 405 (Photo courtesy of South Beach at Long Branch)

South Beach Condominium 406 (Photo courtesy of South Beach at Long Branch)

Mrs. Tea Izzo, Carlos Gerardo Izzo (Mexico’s Counsel General), and Mimi Feliciano (FEM’s Owner) (Photo by: Amber De Vos/SPL)

Jane Pontarelli (Douglas Elliman) and Carmen D’Alessio (International Promoter)(Photo by: Amber De Vos/SPL)

Cary Feliciano (FEM Project Manager), Aaron Bond (Bond NY), Monica Poitier (Ekko Inc. Interiors) (Photo by: Amber De Vos/SPL)

Aida Lorenzo ( FEM Sales Director), Dan X. Chen, Jennifer Pollonski (Photo by: Amber De Vos/SPL)

Artist Evan Sebastian Lagache
(Photo by: Amber De Vos/SPL)

Jean Ziperski (Photo by: Amber De Vos/SPL)

Earlier this summer, I attended a presentation of South Beach at Long Branch at the DVF Soho boutique. South Beach at Long Branch houses 5 star luxury residences by the Jersey shore with a Miami flair. The residences range from 1,352 to 3,382 square feet on 1.7 oceanfront acres. The unique property sets a new precedent for the Jersey Shore and brings luxury to a new level. Notable guests at the event included: Abe Shainburg, Anthony Haden Guest, Amber DeVos, Carlos Gerardo Izzo (Mexico’s Counsel General) and Mrs. Tea Izzo, Carmen D’Alessio, Dan X. Chen, Darold Cuba, Dorothy Fernandez, Dr Kevin & Louise Basralian, Evan Sebastian Lagache, Freddie Leiba, George Wayne, Jane Pontarelli, Julie Zhang, Monica Poitier, Nole Marin, Rodrigo Salomon, and Ryan Nessing.

Guests enjoyed viewing renderings of the property that showed condominium units, a private dining room, and a saltwater infinity-edge pool. The development caters to high end buyers that are looking for something unparalleled. The list of amenities is quite impressive. Guests also had the opportunity to speak with Mimi Feliciano, CEO of FEM South Beach Urban Renewal, her son Cary, and Aida Lorenzo, Sales Director at South Beach at Long Branch. That evening, DVF also donated 10% of its retail sales to the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship. Evan Sebastian Lagache’s “Solstice” Art Exhibition was on view at the boutique as well.

It was a beautiful evening with the perfect mix of fashion, art, and real estate! South Beach at Long Branch is currently under construction, and it is expected to open in Spring 2019. Condominiums will sell at a starting price of $1.4 Million. To see a 3-D rendering, visit this link. For additional information, visit www.southbeachatlongbranch.com. What a breathtaking property!

2018 Chefs & Champagne: A culinary affair to remember

I had the pleasure of attending James Beard Foundation’s 2018 Chefs and Champagne this past weekend at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard. Padma Lakshmi was magnificent as the event’s guest of honor. Over 35 chefs from all over the nation developed incredible dishes for the event. The chefs prepared a mix of savory food and desserts such as Vitello Tonnato, Corn Soup with Truffles, Blueberry Tartlette with Lemon Thyme and Almonds, and Whipped Feta with Watermelon and Pistachio Dukkah.  Guests were able to browse and bid on silent auction items that included travel packages and dining experiences such as 5 nights in Miami and dinner for 2 at James Beard House. There were also wines, spirits, and cookware featured. The auction raised over $100,000 to benefit JBF’s mission, scholarship, education and JBF Impact Programs.

Sponsors for 2018 Chefs and Champagne included: Audi; Big Green Egg; Calvisius Caviar; Hamptons.com; Hamptons Magazine; Heineken®; Lakhani Coaching; Loaker; Melissa’s Produce; Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company; Royal Cup Coffee and Tea; Saratoga Spring Water Company; Seedlip Drinks, Tito’s Handmade Vodka; VerTerra Dinnerware; Windstar Cruises; WEHM; WVVH.

The following chefs participated in the event: Alex Baker, Yves, NYC; Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit, NYC; Stephan Bogardus, The North Fork Table & Inn, Southhold, NY; Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis, Root & Bone, NYC and Stiltsville Fish Bar, Miami Beach, FL;  Peter Botros, The Stone House at Clove Lakes, Staten Island, NY; PJ Calapa, Scampi, NYC; Adrienne Cheatham, Sunday Best Dinner Series, NYC; Michael Corvino, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, Kansas City, MO; Pastry Chef Jessica Craig, L’Artusi, NYC; Suzanne Cupps, Untitled at the Whitney, NYC; Georgette Farkas, Rotisserie Georgette, NYC; JBF Award Winning-Pastry Chef Claudia Fleming*, The North Fork Table & Inn, Southold, NY; Tom Fraker, Melissa’s Produce, CA; Nicole Gajadhar, Saxon + Parole, NYC; Gregory Gourdet, Sage Restaurant Group, Portland, OR; Joseph Gurrera, Citarella, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, and Southampton, NY, Greenwich, CT;  and NYC;  Patti Jackson, Delaware and Hudson, Brooklyn, NY; Jimmy Lau, Shuko, NYC.

Additional chefs included: Mina Newman, Sen Sakana, NYC;  Ayesha Nurdjaja, Shuka, NYC. Chintan Pandya, Rahi, NYC;; Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, Don Angie, NYC; Michael Ronzino, Wölffer Kitchen, Sag Harbor, NY; Laëtitia Rouabah, Benoit Restaurant and Wine Bar, NYC; Surbhi Sahni, Saar Indian Bistro, NYC; Barbara Sibley, La Palapa, NYC; Roxanne Spruance, Kingsley, NYC; Chris Starkus, Urban Farmer, Denver; Nick Stefanelli, Masseria, Washington, D.C.; Hillary Sterling, Vic’s, NYC; Audrey Villegas, 2 Spring, Oyster Bay, NY; Jason Weiner, Almond, Bridgehampton, NY and NYC; Mathew Woolf, The Rainbow Room, Bar SixtyFive, NYC; Emily Yuen, Bessou, NYC.

*James Beard Award winner

Following the main event, there was an after party sponsored by Amali, NYC and Calissa, Watermill, NY. It featured an array of cold and hot dishes as well as Champagne Boizel and Heineken. A DJ was also playing a mix of music at the event. What a spectacular evening benefiting culinary education and programming!

Braun x Whalebone Summer Escape: Grooming takes the spotlight

This past weekend, Braun invited me to Braun x Whalebone Summer Escape at Hero Beach Club in Montauk for a grooming celebration. It was the perfect afternoon! Guests enjoyed playing jumbo Connect Four, Jenga, and Cornhole. They also had Archer Roose Wine, Montauk Brewing Co., Ketel One, Just Water, and some small bites. Dan Gregory, Braun’s Global Ambassador and founder of Man Made in London, was at the event giving advice on how to stay well-groomed. He also did some quick shaves on a few guests with the Braun Series 6. Whalebone Media was also on site selling its branded caps and t-shirts. It was a relaxing oasis that celebrated grooming style.

Speaking of grooming, Dan Gregory had some great tips for men. He mentioned that you should make smooth movements when shaving as opposed to rough, fast movements. When shaving your neck, you should hold the skin taut with two fingers on own hand while shaving the area with the other hand. He also stated that the Braun Series 5 is great because it combines shaving and brushing into 1 tool. It also leaves a smooth shave in a matter of minutes, making it easy and quick. Dan is very knowledgeable about grooming and his tips were so informative. What an invigorating afternoon!

 

Event alert: Party with a Purpose at James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne®

Padma Lakshmi (Photo by: Inez & Vinoodh)

Atmosphere at the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne® annual summer fundraiser at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in the Hamptons on July 26, 2014. Photo by Mark Von Holden / Courtesy of the James Beard Foundation.

Tomorrow’s Chefs & Champagne event is one of the best parties of the summer. It’s a fundraiser that supports a number of JBF’s intitiatives, including scholarships and educational programming. The culinary event is held at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard. This year, Padma Lakshmi is the guest of honor and there’s an incredible lineup of over 35 chefs providing tastings for the event. Some of those chefs are: Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis from Root & Bone, Joseph Gurrera from Citarella, Nick Stefanelli from Masseria, and Nicole Gajadhar from Saxon + Parole. Guests will enjoy Wölffer Estate wines and Champagne Boizel, the event’s exclusive champagne sponsor.

There’s also a silent auction featuring culinary travel packages, fine dining experiences, cookware and more. Chefs & Champagne is a wonderful culinary experience that benefits impressive leadership and sustainability programs! Tickets are still available at jamesbeard.org/chefsandchampagne in the following categories:

General Admission: JBF Members $225, Non-members $300. General admission includes: all tastings, silent auction bidding opportunities, and gift bag.
VIP Premium Admission: $425 for JBF Members and Non-members. VIP tables of 10: $4,500. The VIP experience includes exclusive reception with early access to all tastings; advanced silent auction preview; reserved table seating; access to VIP after-party (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm); and gift bag.

Hope you’ll join me tomorrow!

2018 Summer Fancy Food Show: Highlighting gourmet specialties

Summer Fancy Food Show is one of the yearly events that I always look forward to. The 64th annual show took place at the Javits Center earlier this month and hosted over 2600 exhibitors from over 54 countries around the world. The exhibitors take up almost two entire floors of the venue to showcase their appealing products. This year’s partner country for the show was Greece. I met with DRY Sparkling, Jelly Belly, Chickapea Pasta, Crafted Brand Co., Unreal, Kind, Wine Sticks, and so many other brands. All of the representatives showed an extensive knowledge on their products and were very gracious. I loved seeing products from Italy, USA, Israel, Brazil, Germany, Chile, and so many other countries!

While it’s difficult to see everything since there are so many exhibitors, I really enjoy the flavorful experience. I definitely made sure to try products that I didn’t get to have last year, and I also saw a lot of new products at the trade show. It’s wonderful trying a lot of new products and getting to talk to the interesting people behind the assortment of brands. I’m looking forward to next year’s show already. Congratulations Summer Fancy Food Show on an invigorating, successful experience this year!

Bella Gioia: A culinary adventure in Brooklyn

Italian food is definitely my favorite cuisine so I was stoked to try out Bella Gioia in Park Slope Brooklyn. It’s been around since 2014 and features innovative Sicilian comfort food. Chef Nick “Nico” Daniele, who has been in the NYC culinary scene for some time, owns the restaurant. His dishes celebrate traditional Sicilian recipes with modern twists. The restaurant is beautiful with rustic furniture and colorful accents. It seats 62 people and features an inviting bar. Bella Gioia is a gem with a charming atmosphere and delicious food.

Speaking of the food, my friend and I decided to try an array of dishes that Chef Nico suggested. We started with a salad called the Fennel and Orange, which features apples, pecans, and a citrus vinaigrette. It’s such a refreshing, flavorful salad with fresh ingredients. Next, we had some pasta that included Pasta cu Sarde, a pasta with sardines; Pappardelle cu Coda di Bue, a pasta with oxtail; and Tumminia, a pasta with pesto and almonds. The pasta is so tasty and unique!

Lastly, we finished off with dessert. First, we tried the Giardino, a soufflé type dessert with chocolate crumbs on top in a small flower pot. Then we had the Panna Cotta with strawberry and mint. Both desserts were delicious, and I’m still dreaming about them!

Bella Gioia does an outstanding job at delivering an inventive menu. For an unparalled experience, definitely go dine there!

Bellator and DAZN: A new feat for MMA

Recently, I attended a historical press conference for the MMA Arena. Bellator, a leading global combat sports Viacom-owned franchise announced its partnership with DAZN, the live and on-demand sport streaming service, part of Perform Group. The multi-year deal will offer the best lineup of MMA fighters. It will give fans access to 22 fights annually such as “The Bellator Welterweight Tournament” and “The Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament.”  It will kick off with two fights: Wanderlei Silva versus Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Rory MacDonald versus Gegard Mousasi on September 29.

The partnership is a big accomplishment for the two entities and rivals UFC. Bellator President Scott Coker states, “So many of [DAZN’s] goals for what they would like to see in a fight league match ours.” DAZN CEO James Rushton feels the same, and said “We’re proud to be disruptive. We’re going to change the landscape.” Fans will have unmatched access to MMA fights. Also, both established and emerging fighters will have enormous promotional opportunities.

DAZN guarantees no long term contract and no bundles. It promises one affordable price for access to all sports on all devices. The service is a fan-centric platform that strives to engage hardcore MMA fans and new audiences with this partnership. It will only show the fights that fans want to see. I can’t wait to see it kick-off in the US in September!