Diner en Blanc - Guest Blogger The Bicycle Chef

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My friend and fellow blogger Denine Gorniak aka The Bicycle Chef was among the select guests invited to participate in the amazingly chic food event called Diner en Blanc!

What is Diner en Blanc? - There are about a dozen or so now. Most take place in Europe and total several hundred members each year. The most important Dîner en Blanc, which was also the starting point of the movement, is the one in Paris. Instigated over 25 years ago with a handful of friends.

At the last minute, the location is given to friends and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the “Dîner en Blanc's” secret place. Thousand of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space.

T&T - Denine, how did you get on the list of attendees for Diner en Blanc Philadelphia?

DG - I saw that the Philly coordinator was Natanya DiBona - a very unusual name, and that I knew/know this woman from when I worked at Williams Sonoma. She was my assistant when I was the cooking class chef/instructor. She moved to New York 6 years ago and I didn't even know she was back in Philly. 

DG cont - Quick and as sly as a fox, I facebook friended her so I could be assured to be remembered to be put onto any guest lists! 

T&T - I know the event does not provide the food, the guests bring their own, so is their a cost involved with participating?

DG - There was a $25 per person fee to register for the event. The fee goes to cover the costs to the organization... bus rental, electricity, sound system, lighting etc.. I'm now an official Diner en Blanc member, the membership cost was only $5.

T&T - As distinct and magical as this evening looks to be, it's not an easy event to attend because you have to really organize yourself like a camping trip and bring everything, right? 

DG- Yes, you had to bring EVERYTHING! We bought a folding roll-up camping table from LLBean, 2 new chairs from; I figured that a) we would use them again and b) I didn't want to traipse all over and beg borrow and steal these items only to not find them. 

We bought new white outfits, which was easy and fun and we love to shop. Got good deals at Macy's as white clothes were nearly out of season and seriously discounted! We borrowed a white tablecloth from work. Bought napkins, which will be put to good use again. Bought fancy plastic melamine plates and bowls, which again, we'll use a lot.

DG cont - For the tablescape, we did a dry run at home picking and choosing from the many party items we have at home in my "catering and party planning" pantry. We wanted the table to look nice but not be too crowded. We knew that the event would be too stressful for us to stress on trying to make the most lavish table and we wanted to have fun, so we kept it simple. Which paid off as we had a lovely table and many people complimented us all night. I had a tiered table scape with bowls on levels and battery operated lights along with a candle and faux flowers in an Ikea metal basket.

T&T - The most important question - What did you eat?

DG - We went with our favorite easy meal, great for having at home, for parties and for picnics. Good bread, a variety of cheeses, nuts, dried and fresh fruits. We had roasted chicken, and two cold salads. There were petit fours and a small apple pie. For our beverages we had a nice bottle of Italian Processco that someone gave to us as a house warming gift back in December, along with a sparkling water. We had more than enough food to share!

T&T Now that you're a member of Diner en Blanc, I assume you'll be looking forward to doing it again next year.  What if anything would you do differently?

DG -Well for next year, less food, maybe a bit fancier tablescape and I'd figure out how to cart less stuff or pack it better for the long trek on public transportation. As for fun, it couldn't have been a better time! We did stress about stuff beforehand, but once we were there and in the moment, we just enjoyed the ambiance, the location, all the many lovely people and the experience that we were in Philadelphia, doing and partaking in this extraordinary event - a once in a lifetime magical event.

Here's Denine's post from The Bicycle Chef describing the lead up to the reveal of the Diner en Blanc location:
On Thursday, August 23, 2012, 1300 people, all dressed in white, met at various locations throughout Center City Philadelphia, between 6 pm and 6:30 for the first ever (Philadelphia), Diner en Blanc.  We came armed with our own tables, chairs, picnic baskets full of sumptuous foods, wine/champagne, dishes, silverware, candles, and all the makings for a spectacular evening dining al fresco.

We were heading somewhere, in Philadelphia.  At precisely 6:30, many of the 1300 people were told the final destination although many of us, myself included, were told to board the El Train and that we were to go one stop down to 15th and Market Street - aka City Hall and the famous Claes Oldenburg "Clothes Pin" sculpture.  The mystery of where our dining event in white deepening, fun chaos ensuing...

After a white clad throng of hundreds packed an El Train to Center City, we trudged and bungled our way up many flights of crowded stairs, hauling hand trucks and granny carts loaded with our evenings picnic needs.  We walked up Market Street to 18th, then headed towards Philadelphia's grand and Parisian-inspired Parkway, to Logan Square.  The spectacle that hundreds of people, all grandly dressed in white, made while walking in line towards the parkway had onlookers gasping and gawking, many of whom couldn't understand what our procession meant.  Were were going to a wedding? How did we know to do this? Why? Why not we answered!

Many of us were tired and very over-heated from all the walking and hauling, but we were giddy with excitement.  I didn't figure out that our final destination was Logan Square until we reached 18th and Arch Street, when it dawned on me that we were so close to this most ubiquitous and beautiful spot in Philadelphia.

As we approached Logan Square and found our "spoke" in the park to set up our tables and chairs, many Diner en Blanc participants were waving their white napkins, signaling the official start of the evening and diner.  We arrived, late, the last group to set up.  Many in my group felt that we were seated at the back of the event, but as the evening gracefully moved on, we realized we had a prime location, with space behind us to spread out our belongings, near enough to the action but far away enough to have some quiet serenity.  Parisian Jazz floated over the fountain landing lightly at our table, enlivening the evening but never over-taking the conversations.

Diner, drinking champagne, conversing with friends and strangers who became new friends.  Sparklers were lit at 8:45, then the dancing commenced, with party goers making their way around the Square to check out everyones' tables and set ups.  Photos, compliments, laughter were shared freely all night long.  Then people began wading and dancing in the famous Swan Fountain, making the evening have a gentle debauched feel, like a scene from a 1940's Gene Kelly movie, innocent and merry. The party was to end at 11 pm, diners taking their belongings and leaving Logan Square as we found it.  We left by 10:30, like two Cinderellas leaving the ball before midnight; before our white ensembles turned back into our everyday clothes and the beauty and magic of the evening ended.  It was a fairy tale evening, not quite perfect, but marvelous and magical in every way.

If for some reason, you cannot view the video embedded in this post, I have it on my YouTube Channel, along with several other videos I've created.  You can always search under my name: deninegorniak   Here's the link:

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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