Travel

A French-Inspired, All-White Dinner Party Hits Denver This Summer

While wearing all white has typically been reserved for the cult-prone, scores of Denverites will do just that this summer as they descend upon an undisclosed location on June 4 in the Mile High City to collectively eat, imbibe, and dance the night away.

That’s because Denver is the next city to host a Dinêr en Blanc—another addition to the city’s growing supper club scene. Revelers of themed parties and a secret rendezvous will love Dinêr, a tradition that started in Paris in 1988, when François Pasquier invited his inner circle to bring a meal and a new friend to the City of Light’s second-largest park. In order for them to find one another, he suggested that they all wear white. And since nothing about French culture prioritizes function over style, that posh picnic grew into a 10,000-person event in Paris alone and has spread to more than 120 additional cities worldwide.

The dinner will be hosted by local party planners Lauren Ripko, who owns Studio Q Events in Manitou Springs, and Michael and Amber Handby, the married duo behind Colorado’s first sober music festival held last September. Ripko and the Handbys scored invites the 2019 Dinêr en Blanc Los Angeles, which was held on a sun-drenched Santa Monica pier—and were captivated by what they witnessed. “We ended up going on some rides and had a really great time there on the beach,” recalls Lauren of that day. “We hope that our guests are just as excited to see that day where the venue is in Denver.”

How it will work? Fifteen-hundred invitations will be sent in three phases. In the first phase, hosts choose the VIF’s—Very Important Friends—they want at the dinner. During the second phase, those confirmed VIFs—who all are required to bring a plus one—get to extend their own invitation to one other friend (who also gets a plus one). Finally, phase three distributes the remaining invites to registrants on a waitlist (found on the website), which are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis starting May 9. This mix of inviting faces new and familiar, Ripko says, is a way to strengthen community and to create new friendships.

For those among the lucky 1,500, the following weeks are full of suspenseful preparation. The event’s location isn’t disclosed until the day of departure. “When you register, you pick one of nine departure points in the city,” says Ripko. Once people are assembled at their designated point—picnic accoutrements and table in tow—they are schlepped to the meeting point by light rail. “Nobody knows anything until an hour before the dinner,” Ripko says.

Here’s what to expect at the event.

Attire

Guests must dress head to toe in bright white (no off shades allowed) and supply their own portable table, two white chairs, white table linens, and tableware. “Everyone should show up looking really elegant,” says Ripko, adding that a quick Amazon query of Dinêr en Blanc pulls up a curated array of white goods. (Someone please email me if you locate a white beret.)

Food and Drink

Wine and Champagne are the only alcoholic drinks allowed—sorry hops lovers—and must be purchased on-site. Dinner is up to you—but if you’re more Coco Chanel than Julia Child and don’t want to bring our own—Dinêr teamed up with local caterer House and Howell Social to provide supper for an extra cost.

Hors-d’œuvres

House and Howell Social packs picnic baskets with a charcuterie for two that includes French-style meats like thin slices of dry-cured and smoked ham; thick medallions of spiced salami; and rillette, a rich, pâtelike spread of slow-cooked pork shoulder. Mimolette, a spherical semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, Greek olives, cornichons, nuts and fruit, round out the board. (Vegan boards have pepper au poivre and herbed cheeses, assorted dried fruits, and mixed nuts.)

Le dinêr

Citrus is the star of the chilled lemon and rosemary chicken kabobs, which are served alongside a verdant Colorado summer salad with arugula, spinach, pickled onion, fig, walnut, sweet onion, and smoked honey vinaigrette. A lemon orzo salad with peas, asparagus, mint, and feta adds a flair of the Mediterranean coast. Crispy French baguette is mandatory, while chocolate mousse finishes the meal.

For beef lovers, there’s a chilled, sliced flank steak served with the same summer salad, but which switches out the orzo for asparagus with vinaigrette and hearty roasted fingerling potato salad. French baguette (bien sûr!), and assorted French pastries will hit the spot, but require dancing to burn off the carbs afterwards.

The vegan option of arugula pesto with red noodles, sweet-chile-roasted broccoli, and tomato avocado salad with vegan toast points, and a trifle cup for dessert will keep you light on your toes when the DJ drops the beats.

Drinks

Banville Wine Merchants, a New York-based wine importer, will provide the adult grape juice for the soirée. Selections span the European continent, like the bubbly, fruity Cesarini Sforza Brut Rosé from Trento, Italy. Other options include Jean-Claude Courtault Chablis, a easy-to-drink chardonnay with hints of lemon and Tolaini ‘Legit’ cabernet sauvignon, a Tuscan red with well-defined black cherry fruit with hints of rosemary.

Dinner kicks off at 7 p.m. Tickets are $47 per person, and $94 per table/couple (due to complex liquor permitting rules, drinks must be pre-ordered prior to the event). A one-time fee of $10 per person is also due at the time of purchase. Register now to get on the waitlist.

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