Le Dîner en Blanc 2017: Interview with Alexis Lhoyer and Jasmine Tuan
Filled with magical moments and fine food enjoyed amongst friends, both old and new, the annual affair was certainly one to remember
We will be the first to admit that the idea of braving the sweltering heat in Singapore to enjoy a meal after lugging around a foldable table, chairs, dining essentials and food is not the definition of fun we had in mind on a Saturday evening. And to do so while decked in white? Well, we like to live dangerously. As guests who were lucky enough to snag tickets for the annual affair known as Le Dîner en Blanc, we were curious to know what the Singapore edition of the event would have in store for 2017. The fifth edition saw new organisers who brought their knowledge from various fields such as brand consultancy, wine suppliers and events management under one roof.
Proving to be masters in the art of discretion and logistical organisation the organisers, made up of Alexis Lhoyer, Jasmine Tuan and Guillaume Chabrières remain tight-lipped on details of the event. Their reluctance on divulging the information in the days leading up to the event meant that we were kept in the dark until we neared our destination. We joined in the fun on board the shuttle as guests tried to uncover the location of the dinner.
As we approached the venue, which happened to be the Resorts World Sentosa Waterfront, bonds between strangers had been established and it was clear that the driving force behind the first Le Dîner en Blanc in Paris 30 years ago was able to make this a success today.
“I always like to remind people that Le Dîner en Blanc, the history and foundation of it was a dinner among friends…..the spirit of family and friendship, of celebrating the good life,” Alexis Lhoyer.
With Perrier Jouët as one of the official partner of the event, guests were able to enjoy their three-course meals accompanied by a lovely bottle of champagne and a view of the waterfront. While most guests were encouraged to bring their own meals, the organisers teamed up with Resorts World Sentosa to provide a catered food menu that ensured warm meals for guests who visited the e-store before the event. It was not all fine food and drinks though. Guests were given a chance to nominate the best dressed at the event throughout the evening. Performers on stilts provided perfect photo opportunities for many while a roving jazz band serenaded guests at the start of the evening. As the night progressed, the organisers kicked the tempo up a notch with a performance by the Urban Drum Crew who got the crowd on their feet with their WATER LED Drum performance.
To cap off the night of fun, was a Crane Dance firework display at the Resorts World Sentosa Waterfront, that had guests enthralled. With dinner and entertainment over, the revelry continued with an after-party at the same venue. Even with months of preparation and the pressure of ensuring the location be kept a secret, Hosts Jasmine Tuan and Alexis Lhoyer had only one goal in mind: Creating magical moments. We stole some time away from them a day before the event to learn more about how they planned on doing so, their thoughts on Le Dîner en Blanc and what guests can expect for 2018.
So what made you decide to take on Le Dîner En Blanc, that is now in its fifth year, as a new organisation?
Alexis Lhoyer: I think Le Dîner En Blanc is a fun amazing experience. Coming from France and it’s something pretty popular and famous in Paris to do. It looks so fun, so beautiful. We were really keen to bring the experience to Singapore and to actually take it over this time. We took over the license last year and would like to try to develop it here, make it better and bigger because it is a fun thing to do and we love it.
Why Singapore? After what happened two years ago, what do you hope to achieve with this edition?
Alexis Lhoyer: With this edition, we hope to achieve magical moments, something special for the guests. I always like to remind that Le Dîner En Blanc, the history if it, the foundation of it was a dinner among friends. It was a catch up of five friends who wanted to come together with all their friends. They all decided to dress in white because this way all the friends who didn’t know each other would be able to recognise each other in the part of Paris where they were gathering. that was the initial foundation, the spirit of family and friendship, of celebrating the good life. That is very intrinsic to the event. I think that’s what we want to bring forward again with this one in particular, and then we’ll see where we’re looking at when organising it for the next few years.
Jasmine, to elaborate on the ‘magical moment’ from Alexis, what is a magical moment to you?
Jasmine Tuan: I think the best moments are when you share them with your friends, spend quality time, catch up over good meals. Which is what the event is all about. The whole original concept of Le Dîner En Blanc is that your share moments and highlights together, stories. There will be surprises throughout the night by our partners. One of them is Perrier. I’m definitely looking forward to it!
Do you have any of the moments in the pipeline, any interesting magical moments that you’re looking forward to?
Alexis Lhoyer: I’m looking forward to the whole show. People are asking what’s going to be different, and we really tried to put together a good entertainment show. So it’s not only you coming to experience a flash-mob picnic but you also get entertainment throughout the night. The whole experience is different. Having dinner at a location, which is not meant to be a restaurant or venue where you normally would have dinner. So we take over a location, which becomes a roving restaurant, a restaurant without walls where people enjoy awesome views, great food obviously and also something very special because it won’t be repeated again at that particular location and it’s not something you do every day. Even if you can afford it with money, just because it requires you to assemble 1,500 people, 3000 people or more and it’s not easy. So that makes it special for all the guests that join in and attend that night.
Jasmine does the cultural aspect — because it’s French— help to enhance the dinner? And are you going to localise it in anyway?
Jasmine Tuan: The original idea came from France because it’s where the founder is from. What I like about it is that they brought the idea to Singapore, and there’s a strong French community here. And yes, that’s why when Alexis approached me, I was really happy to represent Singapore and to reintroduce Le Dîner en Blanc concept to our sunny island. We’re really relaxed with the food. In 2012 they said no chicken rice because it wasn’t elegant — not true today. I say ok to chicken rice and tau huay and any food that you are proud to share. I’m ready to bridge the whole French and Singapore connection and am happy to be the person assigned to do it.
Alexis, you have an interesting approach to wine and even how you got into wine. There is a selection of wine available on the e-store. What are you expecting in terms of working with the patrons?
Alexis Lhyoer: We went through an interesting selection process. Obviously, we wanted something affordable for everyone but also of very good quality. I do care a lot about wine coming from a wine background. So we selected some really awesome small producers from the wine side. We have a rosé called Rosé Emotion De Provence Coteaux Varois which got elected last year as best rosé in the world by Decanter. It’s a really awesome one and I love the bottle it’s very beautiful. For red and white we have Bordeaux Chateau Haut Bastor Rouge and Cavalier de la Mediterannee Sauvignon Blanc from South of France, Bordeaux and around the border region respectively that we worked with a lot, especially in Singapore. We worked really closely with our producers back in France. One of our partners in France is also a winemaker, who owns a Grande Cru Château in Bordeaux and she’s doing a big part of the selection on the ground. She knows all the processes of making wine and she’s able to really pick the best produce out there. And on the champagne side, I’m really happy to have Perrier Jouët on board. They’ve been supporting us with all our projects for a long time and it’s really beautiful champagne. It’s clean cut, very refreshing. Very elegant and floral and for the event itself and the universal Le Dîner En Blanc it matches very well to the elegance and floras on the bottle like when you take the Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque. They’ve been very supportive and that is my favorite champagne I have to say we’re really happy to have them here.
What are your hopes for the future of Le Dîner En Blanc?
Alexis Lhoyer: We look forward to making growing it bigger next year and the year after. Maybe taking it to other countries. We have two other countries in mind. But first and foremost this year is going to be a beautiful experience and I’m hoping more people can join us next year. There’s a registration process to make sure that everyone that joins Le Dîner En Blanc is part of a bigger family so people tend to know each other after going for four or five editions. There are a lot of people who come over again because they love the experience. Don’t be deterred by the fact that you have to register on the waitlist. There are people who are on the waitlist that come for Le Dîner En Blanc. There is a whole process to ensure that the people that have come last year and the year before get a seat because they come and sit with their friends. Again its back to the spirit of family and friends having a dinner gathering. We want to make sure people get a sense of a family.
Jasmine, what the steps you will take as Le Dîner En Blanc grows and expands to include more people?
Jasmine Tuan: The most natural way is through word of mouth, through sharing of experiences from our attendees. Our team puts in a lot of effort in planning the whole event. People can see it for themselves from our Facebook page and posts. Pictures can say a thousand words. We will keep inviting new friends to join us in this outdoor dining experience under the stars! Want to be a part of Le Dîner en Blanc 2018? Join our Waiting List
Any plans maybe having a gastronomy station with the chef?
Alexis Lhoyer: It was in the plan. We were hoping to achieve that this year, but I think it’ll have to wait till next year. We partnered with one of the top catering companies in Singapore, Resorts World from Genting and they’re our official caterers. The food that they prepared for us is amazing so people can bring their own food and also get menus from us. We have a four and five course menu for the people that want to join in. A picnic basket in a sense. With beautiful fresh Mozzarella. A lot of the top products, very nice desserts, a lot of fresh vegetables. We did quite a lot of food tastings and I’m quite happy with the quality of the food this year. We’ll be looking forward to it.