Seeing a procession of hundreds of people all dressed in white making their way to the mysterious ‘secret location’ was like listening to a perfectly harmonised orchestra! It was quite impressive!
Six hundred guests took part in Ottawa’s very first edition of the sophisticated world renowned Dîner en Blanc picnic last week!
Drivers and passersby were puzzled yet marvelled by the flood of pedestrians all decked out in their finest white attire (including a wedding dress or two) making their way to the undisclosed event by buses provided by the Dîner en Blanc organizers.
Guests making their way to the secret location during Dîner en Blanc. (Photo courtesy of Ben Welland).
The location was being kept top secret right up until the very last moment when the Dîner en Blanc shuttle buses stopped for guests to disembark and start making their way to the site with their elegant picnic apparel.
Myself and other members of the press arrived at the secret location, which ended up being Ottawa’s City Hall, an hour before the commencement of the spectacular event in order to observe firsthand the site’s magnificent transformation.
Witnessing an empty lot transform into an opulent and elegant outdoor banquet hall before our very eyes was an incredible experience!
Ottawa’s City Hall before and after the Dîner en Blanc transformation.
Ottawa’s City Hall was the secret location for Ottawa’s first Dîner en Blanc .
Beautiful white tents that would later be illuminated into a crystal shimmer were spread out along the City Hall property. A few of the tents acted as working areas for some of the event’s food providers such as Atelier, Beckta and Metro Ontario.
The sweet dessert tent courtesy of Metro Ontario.
As guests were given the thumbs up to set up their table, one could see the intricate details and elaborate craftsmanship that some of them made to make their evening that much more special.
Everything that you can imagine in regards to fine dining accessories oozed decadence and kept up with the ‘all-white’ theme during the spectacular soiree.
White tiered serving platters were seen as the perfect way to present some of the guests’ food. Wine bottle chillers of every type were seen adoring guests’ tables.
However, the one that received the most attention not only looked fabulous with its modern appearance, but it also glowed in the dark and changed colours every couple of seconds. It provided the perfect amount of rainbow effect as it was reflected off the white interspersed throughout the location.
Guests were very creative with their dining accessories during the elegant picnic event.
When all six hundred guests were seated with the beautiful Ottawa scenery surrounding them, it was a marvel to witness.
Even with the evening’s high and humid temperature, guests didn’t seem deterred as they enjoyed their Dîner en Blanc culinary delights. Walking amongst the guests I noticed an array of assorted and tantalizing food options that were brought in.
Many tables thought alike as there were many Sushi dinners, something light and easy to transport. Guests came prepared for the hot humid temperatures with ice packs and white coolers to keep their food and water nice and cool.
Guests about to enjoy their elegant picnic food during the Dîner en Blanc.
“As a first chapter for Dîner en Blanc happening in Ottawa, it was a huge success. Everybody showed up incredibly excited about the event, and, even with how hot it was, they just partied the night away. Several people commented how great it was to have such a different and fun celebration to go to in Ottawa. And, really, that is what Dîner en Blanc is: one great big celebration! – Lauren Hayes-Van den Weghe, Co-Host of Dîner en Blanc Ottawa.
For guests that opted to have their food be taken care of by the event’s e-store (provided by La Bottega and Beckta), it meant being spoiled with wonderful culinary dishes which were easily picked up at one of the various food tents. And for those that were fortunate to sit at the ‘Chef’s Table’ by Chef Marc Lepine, they were served like royalty by Atelier’s staff.
Guests enjoying the Chef’s Table charcuterie spread during Le Diner en Blanc. (Photo courtesy of Ben Welland).
The colourful food stations were a wonderful contrast to the pure white display seen at every angle.
Much like a painter’s palette, imagine seeing the effervescent Irish green of the basil leaves placed on an elongated wooden charcuterie board amid the rich burgundy of the cured meats, the sunny yellow hues of the bountiful cheese selection, and the vibrant red of the cherry tomatoes. A sight for sore eyes indeed!
La Bottega’s charcuterie board.
To the liking of many, libations were consumed to mark the joyous historic affair. Cave Spring Riesling Estate, Cocci Grifoni Le Torri Falerio and Puelles Crianza, all supplied by The Vine Agency were the wines for the evening.
Atelier’s Executive Chef Marc Lepine putting together his dishes for the Chef’s Table. (Photo of Chef Lepine courtesy of Ben Welland).
Guests who were treated to the ‘Chef’s Table’ enjoyed their starter dish of a tomato, peach and side-striped prawn salad (tomato and peach salad with side-striped prawns, buttered beet splat, purple cauliflower, breakfast radish, lemon confit, white currants, gooseberries and herbs/flowers from the Atelier garden).
Then followed by a seared duck breast with crispy carrot tuile (seared duck breast with crispy carrot tuile, lemongrass crumble, coconut purée, lime-compressed apples, sous-vide carrots, curry pearls and cilantro).
Guests raved about the food, the unique presentation and the exceptional use of colours.
Stunning visuals in a sea of white!
As the evening progressed, the event’s DJ spinned his tunes to match the perfectly orchestrated affair.
And as the sun set past Ottawa’s Parliament buildings and dusk fell upon the diners, the organizers and hosts of the event provided each guest with sparklers to commemorate the momentous event.
Who needs fireworks when you have a party of 600 people holding up sparklers against the evening’s sky!
Organizers of the ultra-chic picnic achieved their goal of hosting the international event in such a manner that guests’ will remember it for quite some time.
Breathtaking Dîner en Blanc moment. (Photo courtesy of Ben Welland).
Dîner en Blanc was a first for Ottawa and we have finally been placed on the international map in regards to hosting such an exquisite top-tier event.
With its success and the public’s overwhelmingly positive reception, one can only hope that Dîner en Blanc becomes one of the Nation’s Capital’s most anticipated annual event for years to come.