If crowds of people clad all in snowy white with picnic baskets, folding tables and chairs in hand — and under arm — suddenly appear on your commute home from work next Thursday evening, you’ll be witnessing the pilgrimage to the secret location of the first Philadelphia iteration of “Diner en Blanc,” a pop-up picnic that originated in France.
This dinner in white is a equal parts culinary foray and participatory theater, with guests forking over $59 per couple to provide their own food, ensembles, tables, chairs, real china, silver, and even centerpieces and candles to participate in the event.
Local organizer Natanya DiBona, who has been wrangling a blog, a Pinterest, and a message board flooded with questions about event protocol, divulged that there were 2,500 people still on a waiting list after the 1,300 lucky recipients of a spot had been confirmed.
“Though some people see it as a lot of ‘work’ in a way that going out to dinner is not, it’s being part of an experience,” she said. “It depends if something like this excites you — I wouldn’t necessarily spend ten hours tailgating at the Eagles.”
In addition to local folks like Franklin Fountain owners Ryan and Eric Berley, Foobooz founder Art Etchells and Duke & Winston designer Seun Olubodun, chef Christina Wilson, a current contestant on Hell’s Kitchen, will be attending with her public relations rep Sara Ann Kelly.
“It’s one of those things you’re going to see more in the future,” she said. “We’ve already seen lots of pop-up restaurants, this kind of luxurious pop-up picnics are going to be more commonplace.”
How to prepare
Celebrity chef Christina Wilson plans to raid DiBruno Bros. for cheese and call on her farmer contacts in New Jersey for vegetables to pickle for her take-along menu.
Guests with less culinary chops can pre-order dinner baskets for two from Garces Catering in standard ($55) and deluxe ($65) menus, complete with treats like potted duck terrine and pure white
macaroons for dessert.