It was fabulous, it was fun, and it was white.
The second annual Dîner en Blanc Okanagan took place Thursday night when 850 diners dressed in white took over the Father of Pandosy Mission on Benvoulin Road.
“I think it went fabulous,” boasted an excited Dîner en Blanc Co-Organizer Alison Love. “There were 850 people there, our biggest one yet, in a beautiful location, it turned out to be a nice evening with a light breeze and everyone had a great time.”
This is the second official year of the Dîner en Blanc Okanagan, a white dinner party tradition that started in Paris, France. Started by François Pasquier and a handful of friends in 1988, the original Paris Dîner en Blanc now attracts more than 10,000 people each year.
“We knew about Dîner en Blanc in Paris and we thought we have such a beautiful location here and we love our food and wine so what a perfect pairing,” says Love on their decision to bring it to the Okanagan.
The worldwide phenomenon is now hosted in 40 cities across five continents and attended by hundreds of thousands of guests every year.
Love says 200 people attended the Okanagan event in their original 'test year' in 2012, and at last year's first official event they saw 600 diners, now at 850 this year. “It is obviously being embraced in the Okanagan.”
The event saw diners setting up tables and wares all in white and enjoying a three course dinner and wine with strangers who become friends.
“What a great feeling, some people were just having an amazing time!” smiles Love. “It is breathtaking to see 850 people, no one sitting in their seats, all standing up and dancing and waving their sparklers and having a fabulous time.”
Considering the 850 person group, Love says everything went smoothly. Everyone got on their busses to the location, set up, and with food and wine in hand in a timely manner.
“Everyone just looks so beautiful, everyone is so beautiful in all white. I mean the outfits, and the hats and there was even a cake that looked like a wedding cake and people lighting their tables and their hats with lights and it was amazing to see, some people go all out,” says Love. “I mean you work so hard for so many months and to see the fruits of your labour is amazing.”
Last year the event was in city park but this year it was at the Father of Pandosy Mission, a surprise to all guests.
“We wanted to pick somewhere no one would think of!” explains Love. “We heard lots of guesses but no one guessed there. It is a beautiful little spot that you drive by and don't even notice.”
Love explains that local Dîner en Blancs have to propose their location to the main Dîner en Blanc organization and at first they weren't too thrilled by non-central location.
“They are used to more metropolitan locations, city squares and beaches in Sydney, and this is the first one that is more rustic and historical in nature,” says Love who calls it 'Ralph Lauren meets Dîner en Blanc.'
Over complaints that it didn't have the view last years city park location did, Love says they cannot have it on the lake every year. She says every year is a challenge to find somewhere that can accommodate that many people, on a flat surface that has access for caterers and rental companies etc.
She heard from most guests that their guesses were Kelowna Mountain, Knox Mountain or a place in Penticton so everyone was surprised by the Father Pandosy Mission location.
Unfortunately not everyone who wanted to attend the event could. Love says they had planned for 800 but pushed it to 850 to allow a few more attendees but after that they had to cut it off.
“Based on our location and what we can handle and what could be managed we had to have a limit."
A wait list of 150 people has already been created for the 2015 event of those who did not get a ticket for this years soiree.
Each person who signed up this year and attended (one person per couple that attended), will be guaranteed an invite for next year.
“So hopefully you're still married to that person, or dating that person or friends with that person so you can come again,” laughs Love. Each person who gets an invite can also sponsor a friend to bring.
You can check out more on Dîner en Blanc Okanagan website.