With a grand flourish and mass waving of white napkins, the posh pop-up picnic that recently triggered a huge online food fight took place on Thursday evening at the ArtScience Museum promenade outside Marina Bay Sands.
All but 10 of the 888 invitees to Asia's first Diner en Blanc (The White Dinner) turned up dressed head-to-toe in white, complete with their own white chairs and table – with some even bringing local food.
The event was held after organizers of the event apologized on Wednesday for saying on the event’s Facebook page that local food wasn’t welcome.
A food blogger said last Friday he had been asked to remove a blog post recommending 12 typical Singapore food items, including tau huay, for the event. He was subsequently "uninvited" for the event, sparking a major public relations backlash online.
Attendees Lennard Chan, 37, and his fiancee Candice Tan, 27, brought homemade tau huay (beancurd), one of the items recommended by the blogger, to the event.
"We prepared tau huay and panna cotta to make our point that this is a fun-loving event. We wanted to have something local here and I feel that for us to be here, we're supporting an international event with local food," Chan told Yahoo! Singapore.
Chan's group of friends also brought mee siam, roast pork belly and char siew (barbequed pork) to the chi-chi picnic.
When it was time for the attendees to clink their wine glasses, Singaporeans being Singaporeans yelled (and dragged it for at least 10 seconds) yam-seng heartily and proudly.
[View a photo slideshow of the event here]
Other participants Yahoo! Singapore spoke said they understood the controversy that took place before the event to be a huge miscommunication.
Cocktail bar Jigger & Pony owners Gan Kwok Yee, 28, and Indra Kantono, 29, said, "I think we should just have fun. It's miscommunication here and there and we thought let's just ignore that and have fun here."
PhD student Deborah Choi, 23, said, "I get why it's controversial and I was pissed when I read what they said and thought, 'Wouldn't it make more sense to ban McDonald's because it's so common?'"
"But when I found out about those other picnics, I thought that was really childish and I just stopped being sympathetic," Choi added.
The founder of Diner en Blanc, Frenchman Francois Pasquier, was also spotted with his family among the near-900 guests which was mostly made up of locals and Asians.
His son, Aymeric Pasquier, told Yahoo! Singapore that despite the backlash, they decided to press on because they felt responsible for the problems.
He explained there was a misunderstanding about what people could bring to flash mob food picnic which first originated in France over 20 years ago and has since been organised around the world in over 20 cities.
"When there is a misunderstanding, what are you doing to do? You're going to explain it and say what you think, what your point of view is," the younger Pasquier said.
"In all Diner en Blanc, people are to mould the concept to their own culture. That's part of the philosophy of Diner en Blanc. We don't arrive here and tell you, you need to eat this, you need to think this," he added.
On why they chose Singapore to be the Asian debut of Diner en Blanc, Pasquier said it's because Singapore is commanding attention from around the world.
"We had this event in New York last year and New York was the window to the rest of the world. For Singapore, it's the same. Singapore is the window to the rest of Asia ... and for the first one, it's really important that we have a big window," he said.
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