While an escape from reality sounds tempting nowadays, sometimes the best salve for the soul is gathering with our favorite people. A magical way to connect with others is through celebration, and Shondaland’s Summer Fun: Food, Drink, Parties series is your personal guide to creatively entertaining and communing this season. Cheers!
From a dinner table suspended 150 feet in the air to a sensory-deprived supper served in near darkness, chefs and event organizers are taking the concept of a themed dinner party to sensational new extremes. Here are five over-the-top roving dinner parties that are worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime. Be warned: Many are quite elusive, requiring advance tickets and waiting lists before their locations are revealed.
Dinner in the Sky
Dinner in the Sky attendees sip sparkling wine above Tel Aviv.
Courtesy Dinner in the Sky
Why book a table on a rooftop when you can experience open-air seating in the sky? During Dinner in the Sky events, diners dangle 150 feet above the ground on a specially constructed platform. Once in place, 22 seated guests enjoy an elevated multicourse extravaganza with a chef, mixologist, and servers.
Since its 2006 debut, more than 10,000 Dinner in the Sky events have been staged in 70 cities around the world, including Paris, Las Vegas, Dubai, and Shanghai. Guests are buckled into Formula One-style seats that can — gulp! — swivel 90 degrees to provide panoramic views.
“It’s a party where birds fly under your feet,” says David Ghysels, the Belgium-based creator of Dinner in the Sky. “It’s about freedom, unique views, and paradisiacal food.” Menus and pricing vary depending on the location, but attendees can usually snag a seat for the hour-long dinner for about $150.
Le Dinêr en Blanc
Le Dinêr en Blanc revelers celebrate near the U.S. Capitol in 2021.
Courtesy Le Dinêr en Blanc/Eric Vitale
In 1988, François Pasquier wanted to organize a picnic to reconnect with old friends after traveling abroad, but his Parisian garden was too small to host the gathering. So, he told his pals to meet in a park and wear all white so they could find one another. Over the decades, Pasquier’s grassroots gathering has grown into a global phenomenon with secret Le Dîner en Blanc parties hosted in 120 cities across six continents.
In an era when you can easily share your location with a smartphone, the posh gathering remains shrouded in secrecy with only a rendezvous point. The soiree’s exact location is kept under wraps until an hour before the event starts. Guests are instructed to dress in head-to-toe white and bring white table linens, chairs, tableware, and a gourmet meal. After dinner, there’s usually live music and dancing. Sign up early. The wait list for Le Dinêr en Blanc is quite long.
Tasting Collective hosts chef-led, members-only events.
Courtesy Tasting Collective
Earlier this spring, New York gourmands gathered for a private dinner with chef Oscar Lorenzzi at Contento, his acclaimed modern Peruvian restaurant. He paraded out dishes like a quinoa and corn risotto and octopus ceviche with chicharron at the dinner, which required both a reservation and a membership.
That’s right. Subscription services have expanded to dinner parties. The Tasting Collective hosts chef-led events at independent restaurants in top foodie cities around the country. An annual $165 membership grants members access to these private dinner parties (in addition to the price of the pop-up dinners themselves).
The Tasting Collective currently operates in Austin and Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Denver; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Nashville, Tennessee; New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. — with more cities on the way.
Dining in the Dark
Blindfolded diners toast during a Dining in the Dark event.
Courtesy Dining in the Dark
When you book a Dining in the Dark experience, you’ll choose between a green (vegan), blue (seafood), or red (meat) menu. You’ll get some basic hints about what you’ll be eating during the three-course meal, such as “a heavier fish paired with lighter vegetables.” But during the meal itself, you’ll don a blindfold and eat in a darkened, candlelit venue, leaving it to your taste buds and olfactory senses to decipher what might be on the menu.
“Guests are often surprised at how different it is to eat a meal without actually being able to see your plate,” says Alexandre Boccardi of Fever Originals, the event creation company behind Dining in the Dark and other shindigs like The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience. “Paying extra attention to the flavors, textures, and to what is happening around them during the event really brings a different dynamic to the dining experience.”
After having tried to guess the dishes, Boccardi says, many people are surprised when the chefs do their menu reveals at the end of the night. Dining in the Dark debuted a couple of years ago in the United Kingdom and has since expanded to more than 30 cities worldwide.
Outstanding in the Field
Outstanding in the Field’s dinners are set in dramatic locations.
Courtesy Outstanding in the Field
From an oyster farm in Maine to sea coves in California, Outstanding in the Field hosts a series of al fresco pop-ups in scenic locations around the world. For these dinner parties, a long table is set up in fields, orchards, vineyards, and fishing docks — the exact locations where chefs harvest ingredients for meals.
The idea for the roving restaurant was hatched in 1999 after Jim Denevan held a dinner on site at his brother’s farm. Top chefs often cook in the field kitchens, and menus are only revealed once guests are seated at the table. At some destinations, such as the Colorado Rockies and Big Sur, California, attendees can add on a glamping reservation, making getting to a bed a cinch.
Brittany Anas is a Denver-based writer specializing in travel, health, food, and adventure. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, Men’s Journal, TripSavvy, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life, and USA Today. Follow her @brittanyanas.
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