REGION – You don’t know where you’ll be dining, but you know what you’ll be eating. You don’t know where you’ll be sitting, but you know you’ll have a table to sit at.
No, it’s not a riddle, as much as it may sound like one.
It’s Diner en Blanc and it’s the second time in as many years the event will be hosted in San Diego.
The international flash mob-style picnic dinner that got its start in Paris, France more than 25 years ago is starting to gain traction in the city, says Meredith Bell, co-host of San Diego’s event.
Diner en Blanc, in which all of its diners are dressed in white, meet up at a predetermined location where they’ll be whisked away by bus to a secret spot and engage in what Bell calls a “unique” experience.
“Every person has a different idea why they’re going and what their ultimate goal is, or what they want to get out of the event,” Bell said.
The diners are responsible for bringing their own food, tables, chairs and utensils – and if they don’t adhere to the dress code, they can’t get on the bus to the secret location. “There are very strict rules that people have to abide by,” Bell said.
Last year the event was held at Harbor Island Park because of its location on the water and its recognizable spot in the city.
Bell talks all things Diner en Blanc before this year’s Sept. 19 event – all except the location…
What is it that attracted Diner en Blanc to San Diego?
Last year (the international committee) were looking at expanding. This event has been done overseas for the past 25 years now and they were looking to bring it to the states, so they began reaching out to some major metropolitan areas that really fit the demographic of what Diner en Blanc is….And so they look for cities that have a very active community; they look for people that are very passionate within the food and beverage industry as well as interested in things that are different.
Is it difficult finding locations that fit the needs of the event?
Very much so. Some people in San Diego don’t realize in general, the city has a lot of rules and regulations as far as special events. So pulling permits, finding locations that are friendly to people that want to drink in a public place – we are viewed as more of a green city, and so the fact that there’s no balloon releases, there are no fireworks, those are things that we see internationally with other Diner en Blancs that we can’t do here in San Diego. So we have to find ways to make it our own and make it individual to the city.
Has it been a concept that people in San Diego have taken to?
I think it’s definitely still catching on. Last year we did have 1,000 people, so people definitely did pick up on it; this year we’ve already far exceeded that. So people are definitely embracing it. I think the idea of being able to gather in a public place with anywhere from 1,600 to 1,800 people is a very unique experience that people want to be a part of.
Is this an adventurous event to attend?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s adventurous. I guess, if you’re a Type-A personality it could definitely be adventurous, but I think, more so, is the fact that it’s a little bit different. Maybe adventurous in the sense that people don’t really know what’s going on. They have a general idea of what’s going to happen, but they have to be open to the fact (that they) don’t know whether the event’s on grass or on asphalt, or maybe have to walk 50-yards to get to it, and understanding that they’re carrying their tables and chairs. So people have to be willing in a sense to embrace the concept of the event and understand that’s what it’s about.
IF YOU GO:
Registration is still open by going online at sandiego.dinerenblanc.info.
Cost: $27 per person (2 person minimum) and $5 membership fee.
Registration ends Sept. 14.