A mass migration into the city began seconds after the location was revealed: Merchandise Mart. This year’s pop-up dinner was inspired by the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, which featured the famous city in white which disappeared after the expo (The Museum of Science and Industry remains as a reminder of the ethereal buildings that stood there). Participating diners were instructed to dress in their best pigment-less attire, schlep their own seating, table and food to “harmonization” points before the location was revealed.
The event is inspired by the popular Dinner en Blanc – a multi-city affair that attracts 10,000 guests. Chicago’s spin off brought 1,600 to the south side of the Merchandise Mart for dinner along the river. They arrived donning fur hats and angel wings, carrying white balloons and flowers. After setting up our dining areas for the evening, we waited again for 8 o’clock to arrive and dinner to officially commence. After a round of cheers and spectacle of napkins spinning above everyone heads, the upscale picnic commenced. Accompanied by a band, with the sun setting over the river, guests chowed down on what they brought from salads to steaks and sushi and pasta.
It was an elegant evening of eclectic epicuriosity set against the city of Chicago, and it was gone as quickly as those storied buildings from the exposition.