Last Thursday, a sea of nearly 1,400 white-clad picnickers flooded Fort York for the first annual Dîner en Blanc. Although Toronto did host a test run of the all-white flash-mob picnic last year, this was the first official launch of the dinner, which originated in Paris over 20 years ago. The event was clearly billed as rain-or-shine, and attendees—who arrived by foot and chartered bus to the secret location—saw plenty of the former. Still, they came by the dozen, carrying baskets filled with food, white dinnerware, white tables and white chairs.
Charged with ensuring that all guests stuck to the strict white-only rules were organizers Robert Morassutti, Jessica Tan and Nicholas Wong. And while some grumbled about their severity, the results were spectacular, with diners donning light summer suits, chic party dresses and elegant gowns amid the rows of white linen-covered tables topped with white floral centrepieces, candles and bottles of wine. Among the picnics, we spotted everything from homemade spreads of charcuterie and cheese to bo ssam that was finished with a handheld torch just before service. Those who didn’t want to bring dinner were treated to a three-course menu by chef Ted Corrado (Compass Group; formerly of c5).
The drizzle, mercifully, began to lift as the evening progressed, with some diners dancing in the aisles to the musical entertainment, which included a live jazz band and singers from Against the Grain Opera Company. Others stayed seated at their rain-soaked tables (a few had the foresight to bring white patio umbrellas) until the grand moment, when the skies were illuminated with hundreds of sparklers (and hundreds of camera flashes documenting the moment). Around 9:30 p.m., the al-fresco dinner party turned into an al-fresco dance party, as DJ Vinny Gruvhunter led the crowd through top 40 hits. Then, just as suddenly as it began, the area was cleared out, with nary a trace of the evening’s follies. “It’s a labour of love that you can only understand once you’ve experienced Dîner en Blanc,” says Tan. “It was incredible to see the dedication.” Want to see what you missed? Check out our slideshow »