When you are a food and fashion blogger, it is rare that an event comes your way that spans both passions. This is why we got so excited when we heard about Le Dîner à San Francisco—a glamorous, flash mob picnic for 2000, requiring that all participants dress in all white. The tradition began in Paris in 1988 when a stylish Parisian decided he wanted to celebrate his birthday by picnicking in the Bois de Boulogne. So that he and his friends would be able to spot each other in the dark of the wood, he requested they all wear white. The dinner was so much fun that he decided to do it again the following year and then again and again. Each year more people came until it became an event for thousands, held in prominent Parisian locales such as in front of the Notre Dame. It has since grown globally and been held in several European cities and Canada. 2011 marks the first year Le Dîner came to both New York and San Francisco.
I first heard about the picnic in July (in an email from Urban Daddy). Luckily, it was within hours of the event’s announcement and I was able to RSVP and snag a table. There was only room for 250 RSVPs although the party ended up growing. I was told when the picnic would take place (Friday, October 14th), but did not learn of the secret location until 3pm the day of. After weeks of planning and anticipation the date finally arrived and at 3pm I checked my email with a 12-year old’s Christmas morning excitement. I learned that the picnic would be taking place in Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, a gorgeous area with fountains and the breath-taking De Young as backdrop. This was impressive but what impressed me most was the weather; it was a balmy 80 degree day which turned into an incredible 70 degree evening without the usual San Francisco wind chill or fog. The weekend before it had rained and I was worried the event would be characteristically bone-shivering, but the warm evening (a San Francisco rarity) was a true gift.
We arrived well prepared and had no trouble finding a table facing one of the fountains. I was in charge of the food and my friend Billy, the tableware, ensuring that we had one of the most luxurious and in my opinion glamorous tables there. The rules of the picnic are simple-everyone dresses in white, brings a white tablecloth and a sumptuous meal. Only one bottle of alcohol is allowed per person and there is to be no open flame. Everyone arrives at more or less the same time, sets up, eats, drinks, makes merry and then cleans up and vanishes as if no picnic ever took place.
Billy did not disappoint and brought white linens, vintage Limoges china, real silverware and gorgeous thoughtful accents like a champagne bucket, salt and pepper dish, tea cups and saucers and hot tea for the end of the meal. All this was lovingly packed in bubble wrap and brought in several vintage suitcases. Dinner consisted of pates and cheeses, spaghetti bolognese, corn salad, tiramisu and enough champagne to keep us from getting thirsty.
Being among several thousand people dressed in white made us feel like we were on the set of a movie and the whole evening was both magical and as glamorous as we hoped for. Everyone behaved and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, the incredibly rare warm San Francisco night, gorgeous setting, lovely company and an event that we all hope we will be attending year after year after year.Thank you to the people that helped put on an evening of pure elegance and fun for no other reason than the pleasure of enjoying life.
Hope to see everyone at the next Le Dîner à San Francisco!