A dinner event always excites me! Last Wednesday, Diner en Blanc invited me to its 9th annual event in New York at Nelson Rockefeller Park. Over 5500 guests attended this dinner event dressed in stylish white outfits and sporting creative white table displays. The event’s sponsors included: Citi Entertainment, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Sofitel, President Cheese, and Taittinger Champagne. The evening featured several performances both from opera and Broadway stars. Jonathan Cilia Faro sang a few operatic tunes; Sydney James Harcourt sang “Wait for It” from Hamilton; Kenita Miller sang “Defying Gravity” from Wicked; and Desi Oakley sang “She Used To Be Mine” from Waitress. The Broadway stars came together for a grand finale sing-along of “New York, New York.” Everyone was dancing and singing joyfully. Sadly, the weather forced the event to end earlier, but the entertainment and memories were incredible.
I had the opportunity to chat with one of this year’s organizers for Diner en Blanc, Christine Tripoli. We discussed what goes into planning the dinner event, what her favorite aspect of the dinner event is, what it unique to this year’s location, and more:
Lesley Reider: This is the 3rd Diner en Blanc that you’ve worked on. How are you continuing to both maintain and build the relationship?
Christine Tripoli: We’re always trying to do the best job we can do in New York City which is a challenging location for any event producer. We work really hard to make sure that all the details are taken care of and that we retain the elegance and goals of the event and that we add special touches wherever we can.
LR: Who else is working with you as co-organizers?
CT: We’re the same group that did it in 2016 and 2018. Peter Coleman and myself, based in New York, and Lynda and Kaitlin Davis are the other co-hosts, based out of DC. We work really well together.
LR: Were their challenges in securing this year’s venue? How far in advance did you and the team work out the logistics?
CT: As soon as the event is over, we start thinking about the following year. We’re lucky to be working with a wonderful host. We try to nail down the venue details at least 6 months out, and we do production 3-4 months out to make sure everything runs smoothly the day of.
LR: Will there be a chef on site as there has been in previous years?
CT: We do have a curated meal through our culinary partner, Great Performances, who has worked on this event for 6 years. They’ve done a beautiful menu for us. We’re really proud of it. We’re really happy with what the chefs came up with. They know what people want. The food is fresh and plentiful, and can be served conveniently at the tables.
LR: What kinds of interactive entertainment can be expected this year?
CT: We always have interactive roaming artists that make great photo opps. We have several photo booths with our partners Sofitel and Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. We have a fantastic stage show this year. We’re doing a tribute to Broadway. Some amazing names are performing big Broadway numbers. We have an incredible operatic tenor who will be coming on board, Jonathan Cilia Faro. We have some really great entertainment this year, including one of the top dinner bands, the Marc Humble Quartet. Our DJ is fabulous, and so I think from the moment people get there until the moment they leave, they’re going to be delighted.
LR: What’s your favorite aspect of the event?
CT: My favorite aspect hands-down is the fact that people from all walks of life, from all boroughs, and all adult ages come to this event. It’s a microcosm of New York City. Each person takes time, effort, and care to pick beautiful outfits and to set their tables beautifully. Every person that comes to the event really cares about the event. In the event world, it’s really unique that the guests play such a large part in the overall feeling and excitement for the event. It’s a beautiful diversity of New York City. Every year it’s a beautiful range of people coming together for one night to celebrate something joyfully without politics or issues. We’re here together to celebrate New York and a beautiful night.
LR: What do you feel will stand out this year from previous years?
CT: There’s something that we haven’t planned for that’s unique to the location that is really stunningly beautiful when it happens. What we’re doing in terms of the site itself is beautiful, and we feel that it’ll push us over the top in terms of ambience and feeling. (A New York City Fireboat generated incredible water sprays in the Hudson River!)
Once again, Diner en Blanc outdid itself and delivered an amazing evening filled with bonding, dancing, singing, eating, and all around celebrating. The location was wonderful despite the weather and the night was truly unforgettable. Thank you Diner en Blanc for including me and continuing this beautiful tradition!