Julia Weiler | WDSD Reporter / James Gambrill – Photographer
San Diego - On Friday, May 25th an extraordinary incident occurred. At approximately 3 P. M., hundreds of people received a much-anticipated email revealing the secret location where a very special picnic would soon take place. A few hours later, an elaborate vision in white appeared along the shade-dappled lawns of the Embarcadero Marina Park South. After months of planning, the inaugural Le Dîner á San Diego officially commenced.
The "pop-up picnic" was inspired by flash mob dinner parties, which for years have brought foodies together in several European and Canadian cities. These spontaneous, elegant events eventually found their way to the United States, popping up in such cities as Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco. Le Dîner á San Diego was the first to arise in Southern California, and was passionately embraced by the approximately 1300 who attended.
Despite cloudy skies and bone-chilling winds, participants celebrated with flourishes like a dress code that requested all-white attire, resulting in costumes like three-piece suits with top hats and satin gowns trimmed in faux fur and feathers. Guests dressed dinner tables (provided by the organizers) in similarly sumptuous fashion. Draped in linen and lace, the tables were variously crowned with extravagant floral arrangements and towering crystal candelabras to spirals of snow-white coral flanked by vessels containing iridescent fish.
Set against a backdrop of shimmering waves and glittering high-rises, the event was a feast for the senses. Strolling troubadours inspired joyful dances. Campine Catering delivered pre-ordered dinner baskets filled with several courses of gourmet fare to attendees who chose not to pack their own. Snake Oil Cocktail Company sold local wines such drinks as the signature Le Dîner aperitif, made with white rum, coconut milk, Key lime, curry and mint.
At 7 P.M., a celebratory napkin wave officially marked the transition from set-up to feast. A collective toast rang through the air when glasses were raised in good cheer. Laughter filled the park and smiles shone brightly amidst the sea of white. New friendships were forged as diners shared sips and nibbles. Groups huddled together for warmth when spare blankets were passed around in a spirit of camaraderie.
As night fell upon the surreal setting, a luminous moon, twinkling stars and flickering candles cast an enchanted glow. The music mellowed to match the mood as conversations slowly softened, and then the the vision in white began to diminish as participants gradually faded from the scene. Finally, only a hint of the magic remained.
Le Dîner á San Diego was a beautiful if frosty triumph, and participants will long cherish their memories of it. To confirm that the fairy-tale evening had been real and not an enchantment, the following message was sent to the next day:
Thank You San Diego.
On Friday May 25th 2012, people of San Diego gathered
together to celebrate dining in a gracious, convivial
and glamorous manner in one of San Diego's beautiful
The evening represented beauty, astounding creativity,
and an infusive joyous spirit that the cold wind could
We are very grateful for the opportunity to bring this event
to San Diego and eagerly look forward to many more
events in the years to come.
(In the summer!)
- Le Dîner á San Diego
For further information on future events, please visit: