Winner, Winner, en Blanc Dîner: Contests, Judges, and Prizes!

Let’s face it, when it comes to a night out in the town of Philadelphia with 4,500 of your closest friends garbed in all white, sipping and sparkling, dancing and drinking… we’re all winners. To stick with the time honored tradition, … Continue reading

Thank you from the Co-Hosts of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia

Natanya DiBona & Kayli Moran, Co-Hosts

As we planned this year’s Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia, people often remarked that the second time must be easy to plan “since you’ve already done it once.”  Oh, how we wished that was true!  We certainly knew a bit more on what to expect (we didn’t have to explain the concept nearly as much!) but an event that doubles in size pretty much doubles in work.  So, as you may imagine, the number of people we have to thank this year has doubled as well!

Firstly, we thank the 2,500 participants who participated in this year’s event.  We thank you for your passion, enthusiasm, and elegance.  Together you form a community that truly makes Dîner en Blanc such a special and unique event in the City of Philadelphia.

We also wish to thank the many, many people who played a role behind-the-scenes in making the 2013 Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia a tremendous success:

Our Amazing Volunteers

We surprise people when we mention that Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia is an entirely volunteer-run organization, from the co-hosts to the group leaders, table hosts and on-site coordinators.  This event was planned and executed by individuals who are committed to bringing a unique and special event to the City of Philadelphia.  Group leaders met for months plotting departure point logistics and outlining “Most Elegant” contests while Table Hosts manned white tables at PIFA, prepared displays for MyPHL and FOX in the wee hours of the morning, and posed for teaser shots at Clark Park.  Each person did so with a passion and enthusiasm that knew no limits.

Communicating with 2,500 people for a month and then safely leading them to a secret location on the event day is no small feat. Our volunteers did everything from leading hundreds of people on Septa to chalking sidewalks, from zip tying signs to picking up trash, and we cannot thank our volunteers enough. When registration glitches beyond our control caused some guests to doubt, we welcomed the opportunity to show off our amazing team and we truly believe they delivered on August 22nd.  Thank you to our 8 group leaders, 48 table hosts and 9 on-site coordinators:

8 Group Leaders: Kathy Gold, Megan Koehler, LeeAnne Mullins, Sabina Nicola, Thomas Price, Pierre Rives, Neil Stein and Julianne Walsh

2013 Volunteer Picnic

58 Table Hosts and On-Site Volunteers:  Maria Alpizar, Erica Atwood, Karen Baldry, Katie Borda, Lori Brennan, Gina Cabell, Michael Castillo, Kaitlin Devine, Sandra Donahue, Melanie Donofrio, Olivia Dreibelbis, Zac Ernst, Ashley Lauren Farnschlader, Allison Fox, Marie Fritz, Isabelle Gallicchio, Toni Gonzalez, Amelia Gorman, Mischa Greenberg, Katie Griffin, Kendall Halpern, Kat Hinkel, Carl Hunter, Sharon Johnson, Maggie Juliano, Matt Kane, Clayton LeHotan, Erica Lester, Morgan Loewith, Stormy Lundy, Chris Lupone, Norah Maxwell, Jarret Meyers, Amy Miller, Jessica Mogardo, Brian Moran, Jessica Morlock, Rachele Nicola, Sandra O’Connor, Sessalli Obasuyi, Leslie Parker, Samantha Parkes, Amanda Parlett, Brian Pedrazzani, Pat Ritter, Aubree Snader, Chloe Snyder, Rachel Starzmann, Lois & Harvey Stick, Shawn Truppo, Donna & Errett Vielehr, Lindsey Walker, Lauren Wallick, Dara Warren, Matt Westiner and Monika Zubrycka

The City of Philadelphia

As we have seen other DEB cities struggle to use public space or to work with their city officials, we are reminded again and again of how fortunate we are to be planning this event in the City of Philadelphia.  Mayor Michael Nutter and his entire administration are truly committed to making Philadelphia a world class city where great things happen.  In particular, we thank the Office of the City Representative, Managing Director’s Office, Streets Department, Philadelphia Police Department & Philadelphia Fire Department.  Special thanks to Jazelle Jones, Mechelle Sabb, & Robert Allen in the Managing Director’s Office who helped us orchestrate city services for the event, from street closures to police to sanitation services.

A special thank you to the many organizations whose hard work goes into making the area we used- the JFK Bridge at 30th Street Station- so magical and well preserved.  In particular, we thank:

  • Amtrak
  • PennDOT
  • Cira Centre- Brandywine Realty Trust
  • Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC) & Friends of the Schuylkill Banks (FOSB)
  • University City District

Kory Aversa, Aversa PR & Events

We cannot thank Kory enough for his amazing hard work and his endless promotion of our event.  He lived and breathed our event for the whole year in between our two events and we benefited greatly.  Anyone who has hired Kory knows he always looks for ways to increase the visibility of his clients. Dîner en Blanc was no exception.  We can’t thank him enough for his passion and enthusiasm and the many, many amazing people with whom we have had the opportunity to meet as a result of Kory’s hard work.

A special thank you to Dana Sclafani and the entire staff of Aversa PR & Events for their efforts in the media area at the event.  In addition to contacting and coordinating the press that day, they fielded countless questions form participants, collected numerous lost keys, hung lanterns and helped clean-up.  We could not have done it without them- thank you, thank you!

Mole Street Productions, Carte Blanche & DJ Bruce

It was another great year working with Brendan Walsh and Brian LaPann of Mole Street Productions.  They understand our vision and are always willing to go the extra step to make things happen for us.  From finding a drum line the week before our event to assisting with sponsorships, they truly deliver a great service.  Not only did they mobilize their great team to make our event sound amazing, but they also worked with the Sofitel Philadelphia to execute an amazing after party.

Carte Blanche inside Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station

Our friend Nicole Paloux happened to mention Carte Blanche over lunch last fall and it just took one view of their website for us to know we had to have them at this year’s event.  We quickly sent their info to Mole Street and they made it happen.  Carte Blanche sounded incredible and looked positively beautiful against the backdrop of 30th Street Station.  With every picture or snippet of video that features them, we have to pinch ourselves to believe the event really happened as we

envisioned it all of those months ago.  We urge everyone to download their album so you can listen to them all year round!

DJ Bruce at Dîner en Blanc 2013

We continue to receive rave reviews about DJ Bruce.  Everyone was happy to see you return from last year’s DEB! From the Preview Party straight to the After Party, you continue to give Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia a sound that all of our participants can enjoy.  Thank you, thank you.

Catering

Thank you to Beth Koenig, Adam Delosso, Jessica Mogardo and the entire team at Garces Catering for providing the Dîner en Blanc catered meals.  We have heard amazing feedback and personally cannot stop raving about those cupcakes! Your food donations to our media lounge as well as your participation in our Preview Party and Pop-Up Shop were much appreciated. We are so glad you are part of our team!

A huge thank you to Bill Mignucci, President of DiBruno Brothers, for reaching out to us after our first DEB.  Not only did he commend us on the 2012 event, but he enthusiastically declared that he wanted DiBruno Brothers to be involved in the next event.  Since then DiBruno’s has been an amazing supporter and generously participated in our Preview Party and Pop-up Shops at Williams-Sonoma and donated to our media lounge.  The cheese and charcuterie options that were available to our guests this year received great reviews (some of our friends still talk about them)!  A special thank you to Keren Ini-Kates who joined the event in the middle of the planning and was such a pleasure to work with- she met every challenge with an enthusiastic “we’ll make it happen.”

To PamCakes and Galer Estate Winery for adding flavor and elegance to our Media Lounge. Thank you for your generous support, the scrumptious cupcakes, and wonderful wine.

To Sara Selepouchin Villari for her amazing drawing featured on our catering bags. You captured the many details of the event with the creative stroke of your pen. Thank you.

Sofitel Philadelphia

It stands to reason that an event with French roots should partner with a luxurious French hotel, n’est pas? We remain grateful to Vincent Vienne, General Manager of Sofitel Philadelphia, and his team for their hard work before and after the event.  From sponsoring our Most Elegant woman contest and hosting Carte Blanche, to screening the WHYY Friday Arts piece and hosting both the 2012 and 2013 after parties, they have been an absolute dream to work with. Thank you!

Williams-Sonoma

To Jeffrey Acker and Brenda Oliver-Morgan at Williams-Sonoma at the Bellevue who once again proved to be incredible partners and tremendous supporters of Dîner en Blanc. Words cannot describe how much we adore you! We know of the many hours you spent hosting the amazing Preview Party and the Dîner en Blanc Pop-up Shop to procuring the Most Elegant prize from Williams-Sonoma, Inc. It is impossible to say thank you too many times for everything you have done. Thank you! We are already looking forward to collaborating and planning with you for 2014!

Photography & Videography

With the number of people attending this year– and the many perspectives of the space- we knew how important it was to capture each angle.  We painstakingly thought about how the event should be documented and hired four immensely talented photographers:  Johanna Austin, Sean Corbett, HughE Dillon and Al B For.

  • Johanna Austin’s work is art personified.  Her portfolio reflects her passion for performance and culture and all of her pictures for Dîner en Blanc this year exemplify this. We knew she was the perfect person to capture Carte Blanche and we can’t stop looking at her photos of 30th Street Station!
  • Sean Corbett’s photographs always convey a mood and a feeling.  You take one look and instantly know the entire energy of an event.  We have been fortunate to have Sean telling the story of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia from the very beginning.  From teasers shots to picnic profiles and event pictures- he has given heart and soul to our event and we can’t thank him enough. Sean’s photographs represent all the moments we wanted to experience that evening but were too busy to witness in person.
  • We are not alone in recognizing what a treasure HughE Dillon is in Philadelphia.  His talent of telling the story of an event through word and pictures makes his PhillyChitChat column a must read after any party.  We were so impressed by his photographs last year and we are very fortunate to be able to call him a friend in the year since.  We thoroughly appreciate his work documenting and publishing the story of Dîner en Blanc for 2013.
  • Al B. For’s pictures captivated us last year and we formally asked him to be part of the 2013 photography team.  His photos capture elegance and this year certainly was no exception! Al B’s pictures demonstrate the beauty and style of our guests.

To Ed Seiders and the team of Branded Productions who filmed our official video this year.  Each of us cried the first time we watched the video.  It may have been tears of exhaustion from the event (since you gave us the video in less than a week!) but we’re pretty sure it was because you captured so many beautiful moments and paired them so perfectly with music.  When we watched the video, we thought, “I wish I was there.” But, wait… we were there! Your video, though, made us wish we were everywhere you were (at Independence Hall, inside 30th Street Station, looking down on the site from Cira Centre, viewing the bridge lit up with sparklers). Thank you for preserving this memory for all of us so beautifully.

Most Elegant Contest Supporters

Elegance, style and grace are always on display at a Dîner en Blanc in any city you attend and this year Philadelphia really shined.  Special thank you’s to:

  • Our generous sponsors:  Williams-Sonoma, The Sofitel, XIX Restaurant at the Bellevue, France Magazine, Boyds Philadelphia, Duke & Winston, Touché Accessories, The Barnes Foundation, and Uber Philadelphia.
  • Toni Gonzalez who coordinated the judging contest. As one of our most spirited guests last year, she stood out as our top choice for this important role.
  • To our esteemed judges: Vincent Vienne, Rafael Gonzalez, Susan Gish, Judy Ellis-Taylor, Ian Michael Crumm, Zoha Memari, Carolee Cook, Brenda Oliver-Morgan and Jeffrey Acker.
  • To Gina Gannon for her wonderful video highlighting the contests and our judges- Jeffrey Acker, Vincent Vienne, Judy Ellis-Taylor and Ian Michael Crumm.  A special thank you to Williams-Sonoma, The Shops at Liberty Place, Sofitel and XIX for generously allowing us to film at your locations.
  • Congratulations again to our winners: Kelly Batt Forwood (Most Elegant Table), Mardel Cooper (Most Elegant Woman), and Garrett Olthuis (Most Elegant Man).

Those who made the day of DEB Possible

  • To John Rush and Mike Kolesnik from SEPTA who were so willing to work with us to ensure safe and efficient travels for all of our participants traveling on the Market-Frankford and Regional Rail lines.  Thank you also to the countless SEPTA employees that day who answered questions, held open gates and assisted passengers as they boarded trains.  A special thank you to Heather Redfern who wrote a great piece describing SEPTA’s efforts the weeks before and day of the event.
  • To Mike Browne of Next Century Printing who met all of our printing needs with enthusiasm and creativity. Thank you for helping craft Ben Franklin’s kite and iconic Philadelphia props for the photo booth!
  • To Keith and Eileen Hollingshead who generously displayed their 1927 Rolls Royce at our event.  Keeping in the period of 30th Station (built in late 1920’s to early 30’s) and the style of Carte Blanche (1920’s and 30’s jazz revivalist band) their beautiful car perfectly set the scene for our location. Your Rolls Royce added class and elegance to every photo taken that evening. It was featured in so many blogs and news articles that it should have had a press agent of its own!
  • To Annie Mulligan Smith and her husband, Steve, for crafting the amazing European street sign.  Next to the Rolls Royce, your sign was the second most popular spot to pose for photos! It highlighted Philadelphia as part of the group of international cities hosting this incredible event.
  • Thank you to Arway Linens for, once again, adding a touch of white elegance  with your linens to the Preview Party and Media Lounge. Our guests appreciated the opportunity to purchase the Tablecloth + Napkins set at the Pop-Up Shop.
  • To Nadine Louw at Flowers & Company.  We were introduced to her as a contestant (and first prize winner!) at the Preview Party in June and she quickly became a friend by August.  Not only did she provide the flowers for both the MyPHL and Fox shoots and participate in our Pop-up Shop at Williams-Sonoma in August, but she provided the beautiful arrangements for our media area all while coordinating the flowers and tablescape for one of our three proposals that night!  We are inspired by her passion and incredible creativity.
  • Thank you to Mitch Gyger at Oracle Protection Services for providing the private security that evening. Thank you for your flexibility, suggestions, and friendly staff. Several guards went above and beyond their duty as they helped us with starting cars, picking up trash, and loading tables into the van.
  • To Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross (aka Ralph and Linda) and ‘76 Carriage for their “historic” appearance at the 5th & Market departure point.  Your outfits and customized Dîner en Blanc kite helped create a unique experience and memorable pictures for our guests.
  • Thank you to David Cattai at Dino’s Party Center for fulfilling our order of hundreds of white balloons despite a national helium shortage.
  • To Chessa Cahill and the staff at The Booth.  We loved seeing the fun people had with your creative props in all 900 pictures!
  • Thank you to Potty Queen for once again, providing clean restrooms for the comfort of our guests.
  • Norris Sales Company, Inc. for working overtime to ensure the scissors lift arrived at the perfect time. Thank you for the instructions but, most of all, thank you for the beautiful view that the 25 foot lift gave us the evening of the event.

The Rolls Royce

Guests having their photo taken in front of the sign

Guests holding Philly icons at The Booth

 Many more very important thank you’s:

  • A huge thank you must be given to those we call our “unofficial” Advisory Board: Lori Klein Brennan, Daniele Thomas Easton, Margaret Hughes, Melanie Johnson, Gary Steuer, and Jim Straw .  They are esteemed members of the Philadelphia community who have offered their support, sent us emails with suggestions and connected us with numerous people in the city who have greatly helped our event in some way.  They are the first to congratulate us and to offer their feedback and we can’t thank them enough.
  • To Brian Cawley and the team from Lord & Taylor in Bala Cynwyd for creating a beautiful Dîner en Blanc display in their store, as well as providing the elegant white wardrobe for our volunteers at the MyPHL appearance in July.
  • To Jill Scarlett and the Shops at Liberty Place for their DEB window display this summer.  A special thank you to Tom Hawthorne for taking Flowers & Company’s winning table design and creating a beautiful- and much photographed- window.  Thank you also to Jade Barnes for coordinating the filming of our promotional video in the space as well.
  • To Touché Accessories for your encouragement and support, this year and last year. Your fascinators, gloves, and stylish accessories make it easy to add a touch of elegance to our outfits.
  • To Marie Fritz who is not only an amazing Table Host, but a table decorating guru.  She traveled great distances and gave countless hours of her time to create beautiful DEB tables at the PIFA street festival, Les Dames Symposium, DEB Preview Party, Bastille Day Tailgate, MyPHL shoot, DEB teaser shots, and of course at her own table on August 22nd.
  • To the amazing Philadelphia organizations who have reached out to us or given the time to meet with us when we’ve contacted them:  Mural Arts Program, Hidden Cities Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Barnes Foundation and Global Philadelphia. There exist so many amazing organizations in the city which share the same goals as our event- promoting public spaces, uniting the community, celebrating art and architecture, highlighting the power of a communal meal, etc.  The City of Philadelphia is truly fortunate to have so many organizations that care so much about making our city a great place to live, work and visit.
  • A very special thank you to all of the members of the press and the many, many bloggers and photographers who captured our event from start to finish.  We know how fortunate we are and while we can’t begin to thank you all by name, a few highlights include:

ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PHL, WHYY for their event day coverage, Michael Klein and The Philadelphia Inquirer, Foobooz, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Style, Al Dia, Philadelphia Business Journal, Main Line Today, uwishunu, Philadelphia Life, G-Philly, Philly 360, Philly PR Girl, Philly Chit Chat, Philly Loves Fun, Hadas Kuznits at What’s Cooking on 1060, Jennifer Lewis Hall and Zach Lashway at PHL17, Mike Jerrick and the entire Good Day team at Fox29, Eater, Zagat, Marilyn Russell at BenFM, Dyana Williams and Derrick Sampson at Old School 100.3, TS Hawkins and the team at Queer 2 The T, Philly in Focus, Gina Gannon, Global Lipstick, Details, Susan Scovill and New York Social Diary,  The Bicycle Chef, 22nd and Philly, Her Philly, Homemade Delish, Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps, South Philly Fashionista, CultureJaunt, GrubStreet, My Insight Magazine, A. D. Amorosi, and many, many more.

  • To Philly in Focus and the team behind the Media Wall at Commerce Square who chose to show our beautiful 2012 Dîner en Blanc video (courtesy of Blossom Productions) every Wednesday throughout the summer.  We cannot tell you what a joy it was to see it play and listen to people wonder out loud what kind of event this was.  Philly in Focus, we absolutely love the video of the event you did this year and, Ryan McManus, seeing your timelapse video post the morning after our event brought huge smiles to our faces.
  • A special thank you to Monica Rogozinski and her team at WHYY’s Friday Arts.  Her “Art of Food” piece on Dîner en Blanc has truly been the gift that keeps on giving.  While the piece originally aired December 2012, it continued to show on WHYY for months afterwards.  Not only did the footage serve as a documentation of the planning and execution of the first event, but its beauty helped recruit enthusiastic volunteers and inspire new participants.  Congratulations to you and your team for your Emmy nominations!
  • To everyone who donned their red, white and blue and attended the Bastille Day event at Brandywine Polo.  Thank you to the countless volunteers who made French food, brought French wine, set-up DEB tables and handed out copies of France Magazine!
  • To everyone who made this year’s Preview Party a HUGE success:
    • Thank you firstly to Williams-Sonoma for hosting the event and our wonderful volunteers who staffed it.
    • To DJ Bruce for creating the vibe with French tunes
    • To DiBruno Brothers and Garces Catering for previewing their DEB meals and to Tod Wentz from McCrossen’s Tavern who sampled French picnic food at the cooktop.
    • To the eleven talented table decorating contestants: Nadine Louw and Katy Drinkwater from Flowers & Company; Corrine Sebesta Sisti from Sebesta Design; Megan Grimm & Michelle Mattus from Whitney Design Studio; Michelle Flannagan from Classic Interiors; Tanti Lina from Papertini; The Gihan Family; Sary Em from Home; Susan Dinneen from Tabledeckers; Marie Fritz; Barbara Maletsky from Chef Barbara Foods; and Denise Herker and Mallory Turner from Leigh Florist
    • To our fabulous judges: Brian Cawley, Carrie Denny, Kristin Detterline, Emily Goulet, Marisa Magnatta and Nicole Paloux.

Lastly, we thank the entire team of Dîner en Blanc International: Aymeric Pasquier, Sandy Safi, Jessica Dorval and Annie Moonien. Without their help and support our event would not be possible.

Natanya DiBona & Kayli Moran

Hosts, Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia

Picnic Basket Banter: Kory Aversa

Welcome to the fourth installment of this year’s Picnic Basket Banter for Diner en Blanc Philadelphia, a weekly series profiling Philadelphians who are participating in Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia 2013. This series puts volunteers and attendees of our event into the spotlight, asking a series of questions about their ideal picnic, favorite places in our amazing city and, of course, what they will be packing in their picnic baskets.

Kory Aversa is the CEO/President of Aversa PR & Events. He is an award-winning public relations pro and social media guru with 15+ years of experience in the nonprofit and small business sector. We are so happy to have Kory returning to do the PR for Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia for a second year. His hard work was instrumental in spreading the word about our event last year. Kory continues to build our DEB audience with his enthusiasm, passion, and tireless tweeting.

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Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What is your favorite spot to picnic in Philadelphia?
KA: Without a doubt, Independence Mall! Every July 4th I have a tradition with my friends to picnic in front of Independence Hall during Peter Nero and the Philly Pops free concert. Some years we’ve expanded to three to four picnic blankets and everyone makes or brings something.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What’s your perfect picnic beverage?
KA: It’s a toss-up between Summer Sangria with fresh strawberries and blueberries – or Strawberry Lemonade with tart fresh lemons, simple syrup, strawberries and Marilyn Monroe Strawberry Vodka.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: Who would be the most interesting person- living or dead- you’d like to share a picnic with?
KA: Betty White. I watch Golden Girls every day, sometimes 2-3 times per day. She still makes me laugh on Hot in Cleveland. She has such a wit about her, and so many stories to share, she’d have me in stitches.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: Do you have a favorite picnic memory?
KA: I remember growing up enjoying time with my grandmother (Babci) as we ate and picnicked in the backyard. She would always make Strawberry Shortcake, corn on the cob and delicious salads.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: If you needed to put together a picnic basket for two in less than 30 minutes, what would you make or buy?
KA: I would head over to South Philadelphia and East Passyunk to fill the basket with delicious cupcakes, macarons and other sweets. I am all about desserts for any meal! Then, I’d grab some roasted veggies and prepared dishes from Plenty, pair them with some cheese from Mancuso & Son Cheese.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What non-food items are always included in your picnic basket?
KA: Not sure if this fits your criteria, but I am a condiment person. Sometimes I will bring more condiments then I have food for. So outside of food and drink, my basket would be loaded with delicious mustards, sriracha, buffalo sauce, fruit chutney, and anything else that paired with my food. I’d also bring my mobile charger for my iPhone so I can Instragram and Tweet about my picnic basket without worry of running out of battery life. Haha.

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Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: If you were planning this year’s Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia where would it be?
KA: Franklin Square is one of my favorite spots in all of Philadelphia. It has a retro, throwback charm, with some fun twists that appeal to the kid in me. Plus it’s a beautiful and unexpected mecca nestled in between highways, the mouth of the Ben Franklin and several large neighborhoods. It’s a hidden gem!

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What was your favorite thing about last year’s Diner en Blanc?
KA: I remember I had chills going up my spine as I was so excited to watch the event unfold in the beginning. One by one, guests arrived and had complete looks of awe, enchantment, surprise and excitement as they realized the final destination was the beautiful Logan Circle and Swann Memorial Fountain. At that very moment I knew I was at a once in a lifetime event and part of this grand event that would become an amazing Philadelphia tradition.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What was the one thing that surprised you the most about last year’s Diner en Blanc?
KA: I was truly surprised that no one – not the media, not those on twitter, not the blogosphere – guessed the location. It was truly a surprise for everyone involved. This is also part of what made last year so special. I can’t wait to feel that again this year!

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event?
KA: I can’t wait to find out the location. I haven’t even thought about it or guessed as I want to be totally surprised. I also am looking forward to seeing the clever, elegant and creative tablescapes. I think after year one, participants will come back with new ideas from last year and blow us away.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
KA: The city is so rich with great people, amazing experiences and such amazing opportunities. It is a world-class city with the finest restaurants, clubs, museums, theaters, historic attractions. I find there’s something for everyone in every corner of the city. There’s also opportunity for success hiding under every rock in every neighborhood of town. For those that love to be challenged and take life by the hand, this is the city for you.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: If you were to plan “the perfect day” of things to do for someone visiting Philadelphia for the first time, what would their day look like from start to finish?
KA: I try to make it a perfect day for anyone that visits me, so this is easy. First we’d grab coffee and sip it in front of the Singing Fountain on East Passyunk Avenue. We’d then jump in the car and drive to the Philadelphia Art Museum to walk the steps and see the view of the city. We’d exit and do a drive down Kelly Drive and also check out Boat House Row. If time allowed, we’d definitely try to swing by a museum along the Parkway for a casual walk through, like the Franklin Institute or the Academy of Natural Sciences. Lunch is at Reading Terminal where we can get chicken and waffles, or smothered turkey sandwiches, with pudding for dessert from AJ Pickle Patch. Fuel up, because then we’re off to the Comcast Center to watch the movie in the lobby, a stop to see the pipe organ and Eagle at Macy’s and an adventure to the top of City Hall. The day would wind down in Old City for a walking tour around some of the historic attractions, followed by milkshakes and burgers at PYT in Northern Liberties. It sounds like an ambitious day, but ask some of my friends visiting from out of town…I’ve definitely tried to spring this “perfect day” on them!

A HUGE thank you from the Co-Hosts of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia

Kayli Moran and Natanya DiBona — Diner en Blanc Co-Hosts (Sean Corbett Photography)

A highly coordinated event such as Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia cannot be planned or orchestrated in a vacuum- it takes, as they say, a village.

Firstly, we wish to thank the 1,300 participants who came out in all their style, with grace and elegance, to share a meal with friends in a beautiful Philadelphia space.  For many of you it took just one look at the breathtaking pictures from events in Paris, New York and Montreal to prompt you to sign up.  For others, it was the encouragement of friends or a spouse.  However you arrived there, you placed your faith in the power of this amazing community experience and you packed your finest china, carried your tables and chairs, climbed stairs and rode subways.  You shared your gourmet meals with strangers, danced the night away and even dipped your toes in the fountain.  You captured your memories in photographs and told the stories of your experiences in some of the most entertaining and beautiful blogs we’ve ever read. For this we can’t thank you enough!

We also wish to thank the many, many people who played a role behind-the-scenes in making the first Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia a tremendous success:

The City of Philadelphia and the Fairmount Park Commission:
The host- and guest of honor- at any Dîner en Blanc is public space.   Using the beautiful Swann Memorial Fountain at Logan Circle simply would not have been possible without the permission and support of the City of Philadelphia and the Fairmount Park Commission.  Melanie Johnson, Margaret Hughes, Mark Focht, Barry Bessler, Joe Callan and Karen Walls all respected the secrecy of our event, walked us through the proper paperwork, provided tremendous support and advised us on everything needed to ensure a safe and successful event.  We are eternally grateful and look forward to working with you on many more Dîner en Blanc events in the future!

We would also like to take the opportunity to thank the city employees who helped us on site that day, including Antoine the amazing “fountain guy” (as we now fondly refer to him), Harry the electricity expert and the many individuals who dropped off extra trash cans at the start of the event and assisted us with their removal at the end.  We take great pride in an aerial picture we took of Logan Circle looking pristine and sparkling less than an hour after the conclusion of our event – the result of a true collaboration of all parties involved!

Diner en Blanc Philadelphia in Logan Square on August 23, 2012 — Georgi Anastasov Photography

Lastly, we need to thank Jacques Greber the French architect who redesigned the Parkway and Logan Circle in 1917 to resemble the Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde in Paris.  As one of our guests wrote after our event,“Thank you for a wonderful night in Philadelphia- that felt like Paris.”  Thank you also to Alexander Stirling Calder, whose fountain sculpture has been the centerpiece of Logan Circle since 1924, and the many Philadelphia organizations and initiatives (such as the Association for Public Art and With Art Philadelphia) that work tirelessly to bring greater awareness to the beauty of this space.  We took great pleasure in HughE Dillon’s Diner en Blanc post that said: “I think we have a new event space that is at the center of everything.”

Our Amazing Volunteers:
Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia is entirely run by local volunteers: 2 Co-Hosts, 6 Group Leaders, 25 Pedestrian Leaders and several on-site volunteers.  Thanks to early coverage of our event from Philly.Eater.com and MainLineDish.com we were fortunate to have over half of our amazingly talented, passionate and committed volunteers in place by May.

Our Group Leaders were Megan Haney, LeeAnne Mullins, Thomas Price, Neil Stein, Sydney Waldron and Julianne Walsh.  They met regularly with us throughout the summer and offered their time, expertise, advice and hard work without hesitation.  These six people did everything from blogging to building furniture to buying Septa tokens at the last minute. We couldn’t have been more pleased with how seamlessly this group worked together and supported the common goal of making the first Dîner en Blanc the best it could possibly be.

Everyone who participates in a Dîner en Blanc has first-hand experience with our Pedestrian Leaders.  These volunteers are the true ambassadors for Dîner en Blanc and have the most important role in the entire event.  Not only do they communicate with 25 tables for weeks- providing essential information and answering questions- but they have the awesome responsibility of making sure that all 50 participants are safely transported to the final, secret destination.   We can’t tell you how many of the guests have written to us to express their gratitude and we couldn’t agree with them more!     

Our amazing Pedestrian Leaders and on-site volunteers were:
Marie, Maria, Michael, Samantha, Karen, Vernita, Monika, Robby, Donna & Errett, Kathy, Stormy, Helen, Chris, Matt, Shawn, Sean, Aubree & Sandra, Sabina, Amber, Allison, Jason, Crystal, Kat, Dara, Lindsey, Pierre, Pat and Sharon.

Aversa PR
While many doubted that an event like Dîner en Blanc could be pulled off in Philadelphia, Kory Aversa enthusiastically embraced our event and jumped in with both feet.  Just two days into the job he was sending out our first press release and the frantic pace continued for the next 8 weeks.   Together we learned how to navigate this wonderful world of promoting Dîner en Blanc while keeping its location secret from those whose job it is to investigate the whole story.   There is no doubt that he had the hardest job facing the press with instructions on white attire and cryptic addresses, but we have a feeling that when all was said and done, many of them enjoyed the thrill of the mystery as well!  Kory and his wonderful staff remained calm and professional from start to finish!

Garces Catering
Garces Catering was the very first partner we had on board when we began planning Dîner en Blanc.  From the first conversation with catering sales manager, Beth Koenig, through to when the last picnic bag was handed out at the event, her calm demeanor never wavered.  She was the picture of grace under pressure and her wonderful staff effortlessly handed out close to 200 picnics on site in record time- we didn’t hear a single complaint!

We also thank Adam Delosso, the Chef de Cuisine, who embraced our concept from the beginning and set to work on creating the most elegant and gourmet meals that could easily be transported in a bag.  We are still hearing raves about the potted duck and those amazing macaroons.  We also thank Garces Catering for the generous donation of food to our media lounge – we had some very happy reporters!

Alain Blanchon:
Alain Blanchon of Alain Blanchon Selections, Ltd. was familiar with Dîner en Blanc and eagerly embraced the opportunity to be part of its debut in Philadelphia.  He generously donated and poured wines at both our Williams-Sonoma preview party and in the media area of the event.  Along the way he graciously answered Picnic Banter questions and offered recommendations for his top five picnic wine choices all the while showing his warmth and charm.

Mole Street Productions, Hot Club Philly & DJ Bruce:
We can’t thank Brendan Walsh and Brian LaPann of Mole Street Productions enough for their instant understanding of what our event should sound like.  It took just a brief phone call for them to come back to us with the suggestions of Hot Club Philly and DJ Bruce and we never looked back.  They embraced us as partners and endured our secrecy- even when it meant scrambling for additional sound equipment in just over 24 hours- and were true professionals. And, of course, a huge thanks to Andre, the amazing sound guy who arrived just in time to save the day.

Thank you to Barry Wahrhaftig, Phyllis Chapell and all the members of Hot Club Philly.  Look at any picture of them that night and you can practically hear the Parisian music!  They provided the perfect backdrop for an elegant and relaxing meal with friends.

DJ Bruce, thank you for fully understanding our event and playing such a wide variety of music that everyone got out of their seats.  A sampling of just a few pictures from that night tells this story, but one of our favorite quotes from the night was someone who remarked that his normally very reserved friend came running up to tell him “I led a conga line!”  Music has the power to reach all ages, races and backgrounds and nothing was truer that night.

Romance was a theme of the evening at Diner en Blanc — Georgi Anastasov Photography

Our Sponsors:
Elegance, style and grace are always on display at a Dîner en Blanc in any city you attend.  To add a fun element to the event for all participants, we offered prizes for Most Elegant Man, Most Elegant Woman and Most Elegant Table.  Our search for prizes easily led us to the following sponsors:

The Four Seasons Hotel: 
Synonymous with luxury, Four Seasons Philadelphia happily responded to our request for a prize with hardly a question asked!  Little did they know that the party we were planning for months would be right outside their doorstep or that we would secretly reserve one of their most beautiful rooms to capture the magical aerial shots of the event from its balcony.  We simply cannot rave more about our experience at the hotel that night and the next morning- exemplary service, kindness and the utmost attention to all of our needs.

We know the winner for Most Elegant Woman, Susan Gish, will be treated equally well upon her stay!

Le Bec Fin:
As we planned to bring the elegant Parisian tradition of Dîner en Blanc to Philadelphia, we couldn’t help but think of how Georges Perrier introduced the fine French dining tradition to Philadelphians over 40 years ago through his restaurant, Le Bec Fin.  While Perrier is no longer at the helm, its new owner, Nicolas Fanucci, is introducing a whole new generation to this Philadelphia institution and happily offered a dinner for two as a prize for Most Elegant Man.  He and Shannon Corin, Private Events Coordinator, enthusiastically participated in the event and selected Lieutenant Moran as their winner…we can’t wait to hear about his fabulous meal!

Margot & Camille Optique:
Valerie Vittu, owner of  Margot & Camille Optique in Old City, generously provided sunglasses for the runner-up winners of the Most Elegant dressed contest: Marnie Sue and David Arrell.  She also took on the very difficult task of judge for Most Elegant woman!  We thank her for her time and enthusiasm!!

Williams-Sonoma:
Chuck Williams opened his first store in Sonoma, California in 1956 with the commitment to sharing the beauty and utility of French tools and cookware with the American cook.  Fifty-six years later, Williams-Sonoma is a premiere specialty cookware store across the country and the perfect sponsor of our Most Elegant Table contest.  Williams-Sonoma, Inc. embraced Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia and generously awarded a $500.00 gift card, but it was the staff of the Williams-Sonoma at the Bellevue on Walnut Street who became our partner in the truest sense of the word.  General Store Manager, Jeff Acker, and Assistant Store Manager, Brenda Oliver Morgan, went above and beyond to support our efforts to promote Dîner en Blanc.  We hosted two preview parties for attendees at their store and they offered discounts and transformed their tables into works of art to showcase white table cloths, napkins and plates, picnic baskets and glassware.

At the event, Brenda arranged flowers and worked her table design magic on the food table in the media area (it looked simply flawless!) while  Jeff scoured the crowd of 650 tables to deem Christine Schadow Fritsky and Michael Fritsky’s table the Most Elegant!   Thank you so much for your treating our event like it was your event, too.

Preview Party Participants:
Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia hosted two preview parties this summer at Williams-Sonoma.  We thank the following vendors for generously participating:

  • Garces Catering
  • Chef Kathy Gold of In the Kitchen Cooking School
  • Touché Accessories
  • Jar Bar
  • Ms. Goody Cupcake
  • Alain Blanchon Selections, Ltd.

Our Picnic Basket Banter Participants and Dîner en Blanc Models:
Given that Dîner en Blanc was a new concept for Philadelphia, we embarked on a strong marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of the many public spaces in Philadelphia as well as introduce the many different people who were attending the event or involved in its planning.  We thank the following people who generously gave of their time to enthusiastically participate in our photo shoots and answer our many Picnic Basket Banter questions:

Jack Latta, Julianne Walsh, Alicia Cohen, Solomon Evans, Bryan Milane, Jess Mellen, Stormy Lundy, Kathy Gold, Jose Garces, Seun Olubodun, Art Etchells, Michelle Cassidy, Alain Blanchon, Ryan and Eric Berley, Daniele Thomas Easton, Brendan Walsh, Brian LaPann, Alicia Nathanson, Katherine Fraser, Anna Coyne, and Brian Cawley.

A special thank you to Mary Dougherty and Jillian Dunn of Nicole Miller Philadelphia for generously lending us two gowns for our final profile, The Art of Public Space.

We extend a very, very special thank you to our amazing photographer, Sean Corbett, who made all of these wonderful images possible.  He worked tirelessly at each of these shoots and worked overtime to edit the many pictures for us.

All of the profiles can be read in their entirety on our blog: dinerenblancphiladelphia.wordpress.com.  A special thank you to LeeAnne Mullins and Megan Haney for the great time and care they spent editing and formatting these profiles…we promise to all be savvy wordpress users by next year!

Many more very important thank you’s:

  • Sandy Safi at Dîner en Blanc International who consulted with us for months and months on how exactly to plan a Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia that would respect the values and traditions of the event while reflecting the character and personality of our city.  Charles Safi, we would have been nothing without your website and registration support- thank you for your enduring patience with us!
  • Lori Klein Brennan of University City District and Danielle Cohn of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau for their early support of Dîner en Blanc and their understanding of what a great event it could be for the City of Philadelphia.  They opened their contact lists to us and made connections for us that we simply couldn’t have made on our own.
  • Daniele Thomas Easton- what a gift we were given when Aymeric put us in touch with you!  There really are no words to sum up our gratitude for all you did for us in every way, but please know that we are in total awe of the wonderful person you are!
  • Pierre Rives- for your enthusiasm, passion and the record number of people you were able to register in 72 hours!
  • Our official videographer, Alicia Nathanson, of Blossom Productions and her amazing team for jumping in and capturing the whole story of our event…without any direction from us!
  • Our official event photographer, Georgi Anastasov, whose pictures include one so romantic that we think it needs to be submitted to the tourism bureau for the next “With Love, Philadelphia” poster campaign.  We can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures!
  • Sean Corbett for “unofficially” photographing the entire event from start to finish- thank you, thank you!
  • Lori Schweitzer at Potty Queen- We’ve never heard so many people comment about the portable bathrooms at an outdoor event.  Every single person remarked it was the cleanest, most elegant experience- your company couldn’t be more aptly named!
  • Mitch, Jake, Nick and the rest of the team at Prodigal Security for providing a safe environment for our guests while allowing them to have fun.
  • The Racquet Club of Philadelphia for generously allowing us to meet in their space and store “just a few white tables”.
  • The fine workers at Septa who transported hundreds of Dîner en Blanc guests with smiles on their faces (we’ve seen many, many subway pictures that prove this!).
  • Mike Browne from Next Century Printing for all of his assistance printing and mounting Dîner en Blanc promotional pictures.  We look forward to next year when we get to print the beautiful pictures from our own event!
  • Dino’s Party Rentals & Westmont Party Supply for fulfilling our request for 500 customized balloons in spite of the national helium shortage.
  • Arway for offering a great linen package for our guests and providing tablecloths for the media lounge.
  • Special thanks to Vincent Vienne and Stephen Menei at the Sofitel Hotel and the Liberte Bar for opening your doors to several hundred guests for the after party. We loved the customized drink menu that you created especially for Dîner en Blanc!
  • A very special thank you to all of the members of the press and the many, many bloggers who covered our event from start to finish.  We know how fortunate we were and that we can’t begin to thank you all by name, but a few highlights include:
    • HughE Dillon who first covered our event at Night Market in June on Philly Chit Chat and enthusiastically attended the entire evening.  We have quoted your Philly Post Blog multiple times since our event- thank you, thank you!
    • Foobooz- Within a few hours after your post about our event, every third person at Night Market seemed to know about it!  A special thank you again to founder, Art Etchells, for his participation in our Picnic Basket Banter profile.
    • Nydia Han from 6ABC was one of our earliest supporters and we can’t thank her enough for spreading the word about our event to her colleagues.  Our spot on FYI Philly yielded 700 sign-ups to our waitlist and their team, including Wendy Daughenbaugh and Marilyn Phister, was a dream to work with.
    • Michael Klein, thank you so much for your thorough coverage in the Food Section of the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Insider blog…such an honor!  We are already looking forward to having you as a guest at next year’s event!
    • Monica Rogozinski and the team from WHYY’s Friday Arts for their patience and understanding and for embracing this as an event that truly had artistic and cultural merit in Philadelphia.
    • Allison Stad, and the team from Uwishunu, whose first post about our event yielded 600 registrants to our waiting list in one day!
    • Hadas Kuznits, from KYW’s What’s Cooking and Dyana Williams from WRNB, who not only had us on their shows, but enthusiastically participated in Diner en Blanc…it was such a joy to see you both there!
    • Lari Robling, who also participated and wrote about her experience for newsworks.org- we definitely didn’t think you looked like a marshmallow and wish we had the opportunity to sample that peach soup and  avocado terrine that was being served at your table.
    • Uwishunu, Frugal Philly Mom, Philly Loves Fun and 6ABC, for hosting our official contests after the event was sold out.
    • As we mentioned previously Philly.Eater.com and MainLineDish.com, thank you for your coverage of our event in April..we have many of our amazing volunteers as a result!
    • Other thank you’s include: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, WHYY, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Metro,  Philly Loves Fun, Philadelphia Style Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, Mommy Entourage, Le Fabueleux, Zagat, G-Philly, Yelp, Frugal Philly Mom, One Curly Fry in a Box of Regulars, Philly Homegrown and Visit Philly, Where Magazine,  22ndand Philly, Grub Street, Philly PR Girl, Under Design, City Space, Bicycle Chef, Tax Free Philly, Philadelphia Life and Suburban Life, France Amerique, 215 Magazine, Culture Jaunt, Glamorosi, A. D. Amorosi, Chow Hound, Josh Can’t Cook, Examiner Sandee Miller, Susan Scovill, Phila Culturati, Fun Things to Do with Your Kids in Delaware County, Food Rulez, Suburban Gentleman and many, many more.

Finally, one last and very important thank you to Francois Pasquier for conceiving of the idea for Diner en Blanc in Paris in 1988 and to his son Aymeric Pasquier for believing it needed to be shared with the world.  On behalf of the thousands and thousands of individuals who participated just this year alone, we thank you.

Natanya DiBona & Kayli Moran

Hosts, Dîner en Blanc – Philadelphia 2012

Picnic Basket Banter: The Art of Public Space

Our ninth and final Picnic Basket Banter is dedicated to the Art of Public Space–the host and honorary guest of Dîner en Blanc!  When we began our search for the perfect spot for the first Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia, our list was long and we gained an even greater appreciation for how many absolutely beautiful public spaces there are in our city.  For this photo shoot at the gazebo behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art, we were assisted by Philadelphia-based artist Katherine Fraser and Brian Cawley and Anna Coyne, members of the Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy. 

Brian Cawley and Anna Coyne. Artist: Katherine Fraser. Dress generously provided for the photo by Nicole Miller Philadelphia at the Bellevue. Photo credit: Sean Corbett Photography.

 

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What is your favorite spot to picnic in Philadelphia?
Katherine Fraser:  My roof! I live and work in an old factory building right above Chinatown, and the roof offers a sweeping, 360-degree view of the city and the Ben Franklin Bridge. At sunset it’s absolutely magical.
Brian Cawley: Outside.  It has a proven track record.
Anna Coyne: Rittenhouse Square.

DEB PHL: What’s your perfect picnic beverage?
KF: A bottle of chilled Rose; it’s the perfect summer wine, and it pairs well with most traditional picnic foods, like charcuterie.
BC: Well, in the springtime, at steeplechase tailgates, I love a Pimm’s Cup.  I have a friend who has perfected them, so, fortunately, I never have to make them…  I always know I can count on her.
AC: San Pellegrino Limonata.

DEB PHL: Who would be the most interesting person (famous or historical figure) you’d like to share a picnic with–living or dead ?
KF: Julia Child. She had such an amazing spirit, and she would pack an amazing picnic basket! We would drink too much wine, and eat too much chicken liver mousse, all while laughing our heads off, and sharing funny stories about travel and men.
BC: I would love to share a meal with Dorothy Shaver, the legendary president of Lord & Taylor in the 1940s.  Like Coco Chanel, she revolutionized the way American women dress.

DEB PHL: Do you have a favorite picnic memory?
BC: Absolutely…  At the Winterthur Point to Point we held a dear friend’s wedding at our hilltop tailgate. It was the most beautiful table setting we’ve ever done. Of course, the ice sculpture was not long for this life!  They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and there have been copy-cat weddings.  I hope they all have had as much fun as we did.
KF: Picnicking in the woods with my teddy bears as a child.

DEB PHL: What will be on your Diner en Blanc menu?  Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?
AC: Since I will be dashing to Diner en Blanc after work, I will be taking advantage of the delicious picnic baskets put together by Garces Catering.
KF: I love to cook, but since I will be traveling back from Boston that day, I won’t have time, so I’ll be hitting Reading Terminal on my way back into town for all of my picnic basket needs; bread, cheese, Italian pastries, local produce, even fresh flowers, all in one stop.
BC: Given that the party is on a weeknight, the menu will be simple.  If you want all of my secrets, you’ll have to kiss the cook…

 

Brian Cawley and Anna Coyne. Artist: Katherine Fraser. Dress generously provided for the photo by Nicole Miller Philadelphia at the Bellevue. Photo credit: Sean Corbett Photography.

 

DEB PHL: If you needed to put together a picnic basket for two in less than 30 minutes, what would you make/buy?
KF: I like to keep things simple, and a little rustic. Homemade chicken salad, a loaf of crusty olive bread from Metropolitan Bakery to tear apart with your hands, cherry tomatoes, and a wedge of good cheese.
BC: Some dark brown toast points, smoked salmon, a grainy mustard sauce, a silver platter, two of my favorite Wedgwood plates, some glasses, napkins, and a bottle of champagne.
AC: I would head into DiBruno Brothers, pick up cheeses, crackers, olives, some cured meats and crusty bread, then head to Sue’s Produce Market and pick up grapes and whatever fresh fruit looks ripe!

DEB PHL: What non-food items are always included in your picnic basket?
BC: A bottle opener.  You only make that mistake once.
AC: A bottle opener and a picnic blanket
KF: I always prefer to bring real dishes, and glassware. Disposable stuff can make an otherwise beautiful picnic feel like you’re slumming it. Sometimes it’s fun to pack a frisbee, or a board game like Scrabble or Backgammon.

DEB PHL: If you were planning the first Diner en Blanc event in Philadelphia what would be your outdoor public space of choice be?
AC: Benjamin Franklin Parkway
KF: I would hold it in Washington Square. It’s such a beautiful park, and it’s always been the under-appreciated step-sister to Rittenhouse.

DEB PHL: What do you plan to wear and what will be the hardest part about putting together your Diner en Blanc outfit?
BC: We have a choice about what to wear?  Have you read the rules??
AC: I am planning to wear a knee length cotton Kay Unger dress paired with Coach shoes accented by some white costume jewelry of my grandmother’s. She would have been thrilled to come to Diner en Blanc. Absolutely the hardest part will be to keep my dress clean and white!
KF: I found my dress and shoes pretty easily, but am still looking for an unusual accessory. I’m really hoping to find a fascinator, or a fabulous vintage hat.

DEB PHL: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
KF: I love the restaurant scene and the art community here, but something I really value and believe to be fairly unique is the eight-mile jogging path that loops behind the Art Museum.
BC: Watching the seasons change in the Brandywine Valley.  I am in awe of the artistic heritage it has inspired.
AC: While it’s the 5th largest city in the nation, it feels like a cluster of much smaller communities with talented and connected people pursuing their passions.

DEB PHL: What is your favorite restaurant in Philadelphia?
AC: That’s a tough question because I love discovering new places in Philadelphia. But some of my long time favorites are Ray’s Cafe and Tea House, Zahav and Butcher and Singer.
KF: Osteria. Not only is the food amazing, but the service never disappoints. (As an ex fine-dining server, my service standards are really high).
BC: I have to go beyond the city limits for this one…  and tell you that I can not wait for Buckley’s Tavern in Centreville, DE to reopen.  I have had more fun with more friends there than anywhere else. 

DEB PHL: If you were to plan “the perfect day” of things to do for someone who was visiting Philadelphia for the first time, what would their day look like from start to finish?
KF: An early morning yoga class at Dhyana followed by coffee and a croissant at La Colombe. Shopping at the boutiques and used bookstores in Old City. Lunch at Parc for the beautiful view and people-watching. Afternoon tours of the Rodin Museum and Eastern State Penitentiary. Happy hour at Oyster House, a blue cheese-stuffed burger at Good Dog, and then Jazz at Time or Chris’s.
AC: I would start with a breakfast on the go comprised of coffee and pastry from La Colombe, spend the morning visiting a couple of historic sites in old city – Elfreth’s Alley, Powel House, Headhouse Square and window shopping along the way. From there head to the Italian Market and browse the shops and either grab a slice of tomato pie at Sarcone’s or a bowl of Pho on Washington Ave. I would head to Rittenhouse Square and a table outside for drinks, enjoy a meal of shared plates with friends at Tinto and then hunt out a bar with some live music.
BC: I am “Uncle Brian” to more than a few of my friend’s kids…  One of the most fun days we’ve had in the city is taking their children to the Christmas Light Show in the Grand Court.  Seeing their faces light up at the finale is one of the best parts of the holiday season.  Afterwards, we head to the lobby of the Ritz for a glass of holiday cheer.  I look forward to it every year.

Brian Cawley and Anna Coyne. Artist: Katherine Fraser. Dress generously provided for the photo by Nicole Miller Philadelphia at the Bellevue. Photo credit: Sean Corbett Photography.

Brian Cawley and Anna Coyne are both Executive Committee members of the Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy.  Brian is Visual Director for Lord & Taylor, America’s oldest department store and Anna is Head of Practice Management and Analytics at Lincoln Financial Distributors, a member of Lincoln Financial Group. 

Katherine Fraser, local artist, grew up in mid-coast Maine, but was lured to Philadelphia by the opportunity to study painting at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. After completing the painting program, and also getting her BFA from UPenn, she spent many years suffering the classic situation of trying to make art while waitressing in fancy restaurants part time. Two years ago she was finally able to retire her pantyhose and Dansko clogs in favor of painting full time, and still feels the need to pinch herself daily at her good fortune to able to make a living at the thing she was born to do. In the tradition of the Academy, her work is realistic and figurative, but her interest lies more in story telling than in representation. When she is not painting, she can often be found running, doing yoga, entertaining friends, or roller-skating around the warehouse.

Picnic Basket Banter: Seun Olubodun

Welcome to the fourth installment of Picnic Basket Banter, a weekly series profiling Philadelphians who are participating in Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. This series puts volunteers and attendees of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia into the spotlight, asking a series of questions about their ideal picnic, favorite places in our amazing city and, of course, what they will be packing in their picnic baskets. Follow along here on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook as we highlight someone new each week to gather some ideas and learn more about your Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia dining companions!

Our fourth Picnic Basket Banter profiles Philly’s Seun Olubodun, the master of fashion behind the tres-chic local clothing company Duke & Winston.

Seun Olubodun and his English Bulldog, HRH the Duke. Photo by Sean Corbett Photography.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What is your favorite spot to picnic in Philadelphia?
Seun Olubodun: Rittenhouse Square.

DEB PHL: What’s your perfect picnic beverage?
SO: Blue Moon!

DEB PHL: Who would be the most interesting person (famous or historical figure) you’d like to share a picnic with–living or dead?
SO: Winston Churchill.

DEB PHL: Do you have a favorite picnic memory?
SO: Going to a picnic with my great grandfather in an old park from 1860 called Jesmond Dene in England.

DEB PHL: What will be on your Diner en Blanc menu? Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?
SO: Baked potato dip… I’ve never made it, but its good, lots of sour cream, scallions, BACON, potato chips

DEB PHL: If you needed to put together a picnic basket for two in less than 30 minutes, what would you make/buy?
SO: Lettuce, apples, potato salad, bread, and cold cuts.
 
DEB PHL: What non-food items are always included in your picnic basket?
SO: Blanket, frisbee, soccer ball, sometimes a little croquet!

DEB PHL: If you were planning the first Diner en Blanc event in Philadelphia what would be your outdoor public space of choice be?
SO: Rittenhouse Square.

DEB PHL: What do you plan to wear and what will be the hardest part about putting together your Diner en Blanc outfit?
SO: White boat shoes, white seersucker pants, white polo.  Finding white seersucker pants could be difficult.

DEB PHL: How long have you lived in the Philadelphia area?
SO: 14 years.

DEB PHL: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
SO: It’s a big city, but has a small city vibe.

DEB PHL: What is your favorite restaurant in Philadelphia?
SO: Jose Garces’s restaurant Amada.

DEB PHL: If you were to plan “the perfect day” of things to do for someone who was visiting Philadelphia for the first time, what would their day look like from start to finish?
SO: We would start in Olde City and visit a lot of the historic sites during the day.  We’d then head over to the Art Museum area, then head to Rittenhouse Square and eat and people watch at Parc.  The evening would be spent checking out a Phillies game down at Citizens Bank Park.  We would end the night having drinks at a few different bars around the Northern Liberties area.

Seun and HRH the Duke, contemplating a dinner in white. Photo by Sean Corbett Photography.

Launched in mid 2009 by Seun Olubodun and his English Bulldog, HRH the Duke, Duke & Winston is a Philadelphia based clothing line (plus a limited dog line) that creates casual clothing for guys who favor substance, refinement and practicality. Conceptually, Duke & Winston draws its inspiration from Seun’s upbringing in various parts of the world, particularly his formative years spent in the UK. As a young and largely “one man and his dog” company, he is constantly striving to create products that meet the expectations for quality and style that his customers have come to expect.

Picnic Basket Banter: Michelle Cassidy and Art Etchells

Welcome to the third installment of Picnic Basket Banter, a weekly series profiling Philadelphians who are participating in Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. This series puts volunteers and attendees of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia into the spotlight, asking a series of questions about their ideal picnic, favorite places in our amazing city and, of course, what they will be packing in their picnic baskets. Follow along here on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook as we highlight someone new each week to gather some ideas and learn more about your Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia dining companions!

Our third Picnic Basket Banter profiles Philly’s best food and drink maestro and maven, social media gurus Michelle Cassidy of Yelp and Art Etchells of Foobooz.

Michelle and Art stroll down Cherry Street. Photo by Sean Corbett Photography.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What is your favorite spot to picnic in Philadelphia? 
Michelle Cassidy: Fitler Square; it’s the most peaceful park and never too crowded! 
Art Etchells: Rittenhouse Square.

DEB PHL: What’s your perfect picnic beverage?
MC: A crisp white wine or boozy lemonade.
AE: Stillwater Stateside Saison.

DEB PHL: Who would be the most interesting person (famous or historical figure) you’d like to share a picnic with- living or dead?
AE: Architect Frank Gehry.
MC: Keith Richards.

DEB PHL: Do you have a favorite picnic memory?
MC: Art and I vacationed in wine country earlier this year. Our hotel had bicycles available so we rode to a grocery store and stocked up on cheese, bread and olives. Then we bicycled a few miles to a winery, purchased a bottle of red and enjoyed a picnic on their deck which overlooked a vineyard. It was a little chilly, but a perfect day nonetheless.
AE: Hanging out in Rittenhouse Square with a good group of friends while Black Landlord played a concert.

DEB PHL: What will be on your Diner en Blanc menu?  Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?
AE: It will be more assembled than cooked. I’m thinking cheeses from DiBruno, bread from Parc, maybe hit up some chefs for some charcuterie. Budino from Barbuzzo for dessert.
MC: I’m not really much of a home chef; chances are high that I’ll purchase some prepared foods from DiBruno Bros.!

DEB PHL: If you needed to put together a picnic basket for two in less than 30 minutes, what would you make/buy?
MC: Cheese, bread and wine. The staples of any good picnic basket!
AE: A couple of hoagies from Paesano’s.

DEB PHL: What non-food items are always included in your picnic basket? 
MC: Wine, candles, napkins.
AE: A knife and a bottle opener.

DEB PHL: If you were planning the first Diner en Blanc event in Philadelphia what would be your outdoor public space of choice be?
AE: Outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, overlooking the city.
MC: Washington Square. It’s gorgeous, would fit a ton of people and is centrally located.

DEB PHL: How long have you lived in the Philadelphia area?
MC: I’m a born and raised Jersey girl but I’ve always lived just outside of the city. I moved to Philly a year and a half ago when Art and I decided to get an apartment together.
AE: My whole life!

DEB PHL: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
AE: The camaraderie I find among chefs, brewers, and the whole hospitality industry.
MC: Hands down, the restaurant scene. It’s the absolute best. From our many talented chefs to the wide range of options for every appetite and budget, no city does it better.

DEB PHL: What is your favorite restaurant in Philadelphia?
MC: Working for Yelp, I get asked this question all the time but I’ve yet to narrow it down to only one final answer. Favorites include Mercato, Pub & Kitchen, Barclay Prime, Han Dynasty, Amis… it depends on the day!
AE: It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one. Pub & Kitchen, Percy Street Barbecue and Fond are three I’ve been to recently that I really enjoyed.

DEB PHL: If you were to plan “the perfect day” of things to do for someone who was visiting Philadelphia for the first time, what would their day look like from start to finish?
AE: It would be a food filled day. Start the day with breakfast at Honey’s Sit N Eat. See the historic sites before hitting up Reading Terminal Market for a lunchtime feast. It’s hard to beat DiNic’s and and an Amish pretzel. Then head up to the Parkway for a museum or two. The Barnes and recently reopened Rodin Museum are must hits. Then a local beer at Kite & Key in Fairmount to rest the feet before shooting across town to Stateside on East Passyunk for  dinner. It’s a great peek into our gastropub scene. Then finish the day with more drinks at Hop Sing Laundromat. Wherever they’re from, they don’t have a spot like Hop Sing.
MC: Coffee and a pastry at La Colombe followed by shopping on 3rd Street in Old City to start the day. Next, grab sandwiches at Fork Etc. and enjoy a picnic at Race Street Pier. In the afternoon, drinks at Kite & Key followed by some culture at the Barnes Foundation. Dinner and people watching al fresco at Parc on Rittenhouse Square, followed by drinks at Tria or Hop Sing Laundromat.

Art and Michelle shop for white clothing at Franklin Square Boutique. Photo by Sean Corbett Photography.

Special thanks to Franklin Square Boutique owner, Liz Burt, for letting us come into her store for photos! 

Michelle Cassidy is a Senior Community Manager for Yelp.com in Philadelphia. In addition to planning marketing promotions and special events for Yelp, she also enjoys exploring the city’s restaurant scene, traveling, cheering on Philly’s sports teams and staying active with running, spinning and yoga.

Arthur Etchells is the founder and editor of the popular Philadelphia food blog Foobooz. Foobooz is your guide to eating and drinking in Philadelphia. Foobooz will keep you up to date on the latest restaurant and bar openings as well as culinary events. Equal parts events calendar and weblog, Foobooz aims to be your favorite place for Philadelphia, food, drink, and deals.

Picnic Basket Banter: Jose Garces

Welcome to the second installment of Picnic Basket Banter, a weekly series profiling Philadelphians who are participating in Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. This series puts volunteers and attendees of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia into the spotlight, asking a series of questions about their ideal picnic, favorite places in our amazing city and, of course, what they will be packing in their picnic baskets. Follow along here on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook as we highlight someone new each week to gather some ideas and learn more about your Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia dining companions!

Our second Picnic Basket Banter profiles Philly’s favorite chef, Jose Garces, the man behind the picnic baskets available for Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia via Garces Catering

Chef Jose Garces. Photo by Jason Varney.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What is your favorite spot to picnic in Philadelphia? 
Jose Garces: Ultimately, my favorite spot to picnic is in Wissahickon. My family and I hike Forbidden Drive and then we pick a spot near the Valley Green Inn, where there are wooden benches and picnic tables. The creek flows right off of this area. It’s also special because Beatriz and I got married at Valley Green Inn.

DEB PHL: What’s your perfect picnic beverage?
JG: Picnics demand a few things: beverages that will either stay cold or be palatable at a warmer temperature, as well as self-containment: no garnishes or fancy glassware.  For those reasons, I love a big batch of sangria – either white or red – as well as two-ingredient cocktails such as whiskey sodas. Keep the whiskey in the freezer until you leave the house, so it stays cold in the drink as long as possible.

DEB PHL: Who would be the most interesting person (famous or historical figure) you’d like to share a picnic with–living or dead?
JG: I would love to picnic with Jacques Cousteau and learn about his adventures with marine life.  I’ve often thought that if I wasn’t a chef I would work with the ocean in some way, perhaps as a marine biologist.

DEB PHL: Do you have a favorite picnic memory?
JG: One of my favorites would have to be picnicking in Central Park in New York City before a Widespread Panic concert back in the late nineties with a group of friends.  We had Italian subs with lots of charcuterie that I had made, homemade kettle chips, and beer.

DEB PHL: What will be on your Dîner en Blanc menu?  Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?
JG: Something I’m offering on the Dîner en Blanc menu is an egg salad sandwich, served on grilled focaccia with mortadella, heirloom tomato and green olive from JG Domestic. Potted Duck with duck rillette, foie gras mousse and elderflower caramel will also be served, and is one of my favorites.

DEB PHL: What non-food items are always included in your picnic basket? 
JG: A big sheet or blanket is a must, to create a comfortable place to sit.  I prefer plastic cutlery to metal because it’s lighter, but I do try to pack it up and bring it home to wash and reuse, rather than throwing it away, because it’s better for the environment.  Glassware is tricky; I like plastic cups because they’re simple, and can be stacked to take up less room in the basket.  And extra napkins are crucial, especially if you’re picnicking with children – there will be spills!

DEB PHL: If you were planning the first Dîner en Blanc event in Philadelphia what would be your outdoor public space of choice be?
JG: I would have to say the Azalea garden, or the sculpture garden, both of which are located behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

DEB PHL: How long have you lived in the Philadelphia area?
JG: I have been here for about 10 years.

DEB PHL: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
JG: There are so many!  Obviously, I love our food scene: the restaurants; the people who work in them; the ambitious diners, the gifted producers, and purveyors that give us chefs so many fun products to work with.  Overall, though, I think my favorite thing about Philadelphia is my life here. I met my wife here.  We opened my first restaurant here.  My children were born here.  It feels very much like home to me.  The city is full of happy memories.

DEB PHL: What is your favorite restaurant in Philadelphia?
JG: It would be impossible to choose just one, just as there is no one reason that I go out to eat.  There are restaurants for every occasion, and I love that variety.  Vetri comes to mind, and of course, there is a special place in my heart for my first restaurant, Amada.

DEB PHL: If you were to plan “the perfect day” of things to do for someone who was visiting Philadelphia for the first time, what would their day look like from start to finish?
JG: So much food.  They’d have to start with breakfast at Reading Terminal Market, checking out the vendors, buying souvenirs and sampling the awesome Amish food at Dutch Eating Place.  After that, you’re awfully close to Chinatown – why not take a stroll, explore the shops and maybe indulge in some dim sum?  Then, north to a quick round of Philly-centric mini-golf at Franklin Square and up to Northern Liberties for craft beers at Standard Tap or North 3rd and maybe a frame or two at North Bowl.  After that, hop the El train into Center City and switch to the Broad Street line, because we’re headed to the stadium for the Phillies game and some crab fries.  Finish the night with cocktails at Village Whiskey – and a burger, if you’re still hungry! 

Chef Jose Garces. Photo by M. S. Smith.

Since opening his first restaurant Amada in 2005, Chef Jose Garces has emerged as an enormous talent and one of the nation’s most gifted chefs and restaurateurs.  He is a 2009 winner of the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” award and one of only eight chefs in the country to hold the coveted title of Iron Chef, appearing regularly on Iron Chef America.  Chef Garces’ second cookbook, The Latin Road Home (Lake Isle Press, October 2012), will take readers on a tour of five Latin countries – Ecuaor, Spain, Mexico, Cuba and Peru – through food.  It is a hotly anticipated follow-up to his stunning first cookbook, Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, Fall 2008).

Chic Picnic Checklist – Everything You Need For Dîner en Blanc

With lots of buzz around Philly for Dîner en Blanc, hopeful participants are starting to think about the event itself and what they will need to bring if they’re able to secure a coveted spot to the soirée. Luckily, we have compiled a helpful and simple checklist to guide you during your preparation for the big event. Bookmark or print the list for your reference as we get closer to August 23!

Event Checklist

Register on Waiting List 

Invite a Fabulously Fun Guest 

Assemble Chic White Attire 

 

Gather: 

Folding Square Table (26-32” high and wide) 

White Folding Chairs (2) 

White Table Cloth

 

 Picnic Basket & Essentials: (All non-disposable) 

  • White Plates & Serveware
  • Wine Glasses
  • Cutting Boards & Utensils
  • Storage Containers
  • White Cloth Napkins
  • Candlesticks & Votives
  • White Trash Bag 

 

Prepare and Procure:

Elegant Gourmet Meal and Favorite Bottle of Wine

 

Picnic Basket Banter: Kathy Gold and Stormy Lundy

Welcome to the first installment of Picnic Basket Banter, a weekly series profiling Philadelphians who are participating in Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. This series puts volunteers and attendees of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia into the spotlight, asking a series of questions about their ideal picnic, favorite places in our amazing city and, of course, what they will be packing in their picnic baskets. Follow along here on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook as we highlight someone new each week to gather some ideas and learn more about your Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia dining companions!

Our first Picnic Basket Banter profiles Kathy Gold and Stormy Lundy, two of our esteemed Dîner en Blanc Table Hosts.  In this position, they each have the essential job of communicating with guests before the event and guiding them from their meeting spots to the SECRET location on Thursday, August 23rd.

Photo: Sean Corbett Photography — Stormy Lundy and Kathy Gold roam the Reading Terminal Market for seasonal picnic food items.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What is your favorite spot to picnic in Philadelphia?
Kathy Gold: I love Rittenhouse Square–it can’t be beat for people watching. 
Stormy Lundy: Franklin Square!

DEB PHL: What’s your perfect picnic beverage?
KG: Very dry, very cold Rosé, and my secret vice, San Pellegrino water.
SL: Strawberry lemonade.

DEB PHL: Who would be the most interesting person (famous or historical figure) you’d like to share a picnic with- living or dead? 
SL: Julia Child.
KG: I must have three guests:  George Sand, Nora Ephron and Julia Child

DEB PHL: Do you have a favorite picnic memory?
KG: An indoor picnic, in a totally empty apartment in Washington, DC, owned by a senator who had recently moved home. It was July 4th, and the apartment, with a wall of floor to ceiling windows, had a spectacular view of the Washington Monument where the fireworks display was set off.  The fireworks were imported from France that year and the pastel colors and shapes were like none we had ever seen. We had raided the pantry and wine cellar (with permission) at Bistro Francais in Georgetown, and ate and drank the best food and wine in DC.
SL: The Danbury State Fair every year with my family–oh that blueberry pie!

DEB PHL: If you needed to put together a picnic basket for two in less than 30 minutes, what would you make/buy?
SL: Super green orzo salad; local cheese and bread; olives; oatmeal cookies from Flying Monkey; and fruit salad.

DEB PHL: What will be on your Dîner en Blanc menu? 
KG: Lots of salads and a baguette, I am sure. My basket will be filled with whatever was freshest in the farmer’s market that day. I hope for tomatoes and peaches.  Or maybe pissaladiere, or salade Nicoise, or…

DEB PHL: What non-food items are always included in your picnic basket?
SL: A sketch pad, pastels, a blanket, bug spray, iPod, and Kindle.
KG: My Laguiole picnic knife–it has a great blade and a corkscrew–along with a small cutting board. A plastic bag with wet paper towels.  I hate sticky fingers!

DEB PHL: If you were planning the first Dîner en Blanc event in Philadelphia what would be your outdoor public space of choice be?
SL: The landing at the Philadelphia Art Museum. As the sun goes down, the view gets better and better.

DEB PHL: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
KG: The small, secret gardens, tucked away in various parts of Society Hill, Old City and Rittenhouse 

DEB PHL: If you were to plan “the perfect day” of things to do for someone who was visiting Philadelphia for the first time, what would their day look like from start to finish? 
SL: Breakfast at Pumpkin Market or Morning Glory followed by a walk down to Old City to see the Constitution Center, President’s house and the Liberty Bell. Reading Terminal Market for lunch and people watching, then a walk to the Parkway and Logan Square. The Barnes Collection! Late afternoon or early evening drinks, and dinner on Rittenhouse Square. 
KG: On the list would be The Barnes Museum; a walk in and out of the side streets of Society Hill; Reading Terminal or the Italian Market; University of Pennsylvania Museum; Independence Hall and Visitors Center; the Mutter Museum; The Constitution Center; Franklin Institute; an evening drive by Boat House Row. We have too many fabulous things to do and see here. They have to spend at least a weekend!

Photo: Sean Corbett Photography — Kathy Gold and Stormy Lundy seek tablescape inspiration at Reading Terminal Market.

Chef Kathy Gold is a professional chef and founder of In the Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield, NJ.  She is also a food writer and food stylist. Her work has been seen in the pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Courier Post, and many magazines and blogs. Chef Kathy Gold was honored to be included in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools event at the White House. Chef Gold is the 1st Vice President of the Philadelphia Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, for which she serves as the Local Exchange Coordinator. Kathy Gold has lived in the Philadelphia area for 20 years.  

Stormy Lundy is the Director of Special Events at the Reading Terminal Market Catering Company, where she throws parties in the Market for 60 to 2,000 guests after hours that showcase 120-year-old market’s 80 merchants and restaurants. Stormy is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International; an organization of women leaders who create a supportive culture in their communities to achieve excellence in the food, beverage and hospitality professions. Its purpose is to provide support to individual chapters and a system for communication and networking. Stormy Lundy has lived in the Philadelphia area for 32 years.

Photo credit to Sean Corbett Photography.