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An Insider’s Glance at Le Dîner en Blanc – Chicago

Le Dîner en Blanc – Chicago Hosts Annette Dalloo, Lauren Haras, Roger Hobby, and James Wild have a great thing going, and they know it! Together, they will celebrate 5 years of Dîner en Blanc magic this summer. The event is already sold out, with 3,000 guests expected to attend! In light of their upcoming milestone, we got the chance to hear what each of these hosts had to say about their event and their city, as they ramp up for the anticipated August 12th event date.
What is it about Chicago that embraced the Dîner en Blanc concept so enthusiastically?
As with all countries that have to put up with harsh winters, any opportunity to enjoy the fleeting summer is precious. “Chicagoans try to take advantage of every single minute of the summer,” says Annette Dalloo, official co-host since 2014. “Le Dîner en Blanc is no different. We will look for any excuse to experience the beauty and architecture of Chicago.”
Le Dîner en Blanc – Chicago truly started as a “French Import,” according to host Roger Hobby, whose experience with the event goes back about 15 years to the original Dîner en Blanc de Paris. For nearly a decade, Hobby attended the Paris event along with a “group of expats.” Each year, he invited more and more friends, taking on more responsibilities as a volunteer along the way. When he found out that the new team of Dîner en Blanc organizers in Chicago were at risk of cancelling the inaugural event in 2012, he signed on to volunteer: “I realized that I couldn't let my people down like that and jumped up to volunteer with a group of like-minded crazy friends who love everything Dîner en Blanc is about.”
That first year in 2012, they managed to organize the event in less than 6 weeks—and, in the middle of a recession. The rest of the Host team came together as friends of friends and acquaintances who met in and around their Chicago neighborhoods, at foodie events, local establishments, and of course, at Dîner en Blanc – Chicago itself.
How is Le Dîner en Blanc different from any other event in which you’ve been involved?
James Wild answers this questions with perfect simplicity: “It combines the beauty of one’s city, the passion of one’s appetite and the complexity of one’s palette through the excitement of new and old friends.” Above all, Le Dîner en Blanc “fosters creativity, collaboration and friendships,” Annette says. “I can’t think of anything more wonderful.” Lauren Haras adds, in the same tone, “Pure and simple—it’s magic.”
Le Dîner en Blanc is an event where everyone comes together, despite their background. Roger drives this point home: “We don't care about your bank account. We don't care about your car. We don't care about your zip code.” It’s the kind of evening where “Millionaires will sit next to poor students and dance the night away together.” The hosts even witnessed one couple “meet at Dîner en Blanc, return year after year together, and [then] get engaged at Dîner en Blanc.”
Among their most memorable Dîner en Blanc moments is the downpour experienced just minutes before their 2014 event. As the team set up at the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo in the pouring rain, hanging soggy signage, skies cleared just minutes before the event, and they all dined under a beautiful sunset.
Over the years this team of hosts has grown and changed, taking on new challenges with every season. In recent years, Le Dîner en Blanc – Chicago has even attracted people from out of state, with guests “[driving] in from other states or, as last year, fly to make it to town just for Dîner en Blanc.” As always, the city is at the heart of this experience.
How has Dîner en Blanc evolved in your city over the past five years?
Where do you see it heading in the future?
Le Dîner en Blanc has changed in Chicago from being a French import to being its own, home-grown event. It keeps its local feel and rhythm. Today it is an entirely Chicago event with its own look and feel and vibe, but we never forget our roots and our origins and are proud to thank "mom and dad" back in Paris for giving us this amazing gift. Where will it go in the future? Only up! – Roger Hobby
The Chicago hosts are also incredibly active on the international level. They’ve already attended elegant picnics in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Nairobi. This summer, they plan to visit Montreal.
Le Dîner en Blanc – Chicago is less than a month away! As hosts and guests countdown to August 12th, we wish them luck for a successful, elegant, and memorable anniversary event!
For more info on Le Dîner en Blanc – Chicago, visit or follow them on 
  Diner en Blanc - Chicago      @ChiDinerEnBlanc     dinerenblancchicago


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