Meet the entrepreneur who brought Le Dîner en Blanc to Toronto

4 minute read

Diner en Blanc, French for ‘Dinner in White’ is an annual picnic held across 80 cities in 30 countries around the world. Dressed in all white and armed with picnic essentials, guests gather at a location that’s revealed to them at the last minute. The concept originated in Paris in the 1980’s to celebrate friendship with a touch of elegance. Jessica Tan, the host of Toronto’s Le Dîner en Blanc talks to us about the joie de vivre of this coveted summer event, and what it takes to be a successful event planner.

Q1. What is it about this pop-up picnic that connects with people, and has managed to build a loyal following?

It’s really an event grounded in tradition. It’s a tribute to the elegance and glamour of French, high society. You gather with friends with the sole purpose of sharing a gourmet meal, secretly in the heart of the city’s most stunning and iconic locations. . Diner en Blanc is exceptional, both in the sheer magnitude of its design and execution. The event always takes place in a public space, and only privy to invited participants from the previous year (or those lucky enough to be selected from the waitlist).

Q2. Take us back to the first year of Le Dîner en Blanc. What were some of the hard lessons you learnt in starting a business?

Diner en Blanc Toronto was my first foray into entrepreneurship. I took that step working full time in a very demanding job. Time was a premium, and balancing my personal and professional life was a struggle. Building our team was critical, along with bringing the right partners on-board. It’s one thing to be passionate and have an idea, it’s a completely different story to bring it to life. There’s a lot of trial and error. I would say having the right people by my side helped me avoid some of the pitfalls of a first-time entrepreneur.