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!