Jess Winans


Le Diner en Blanc to Make Long Island Debut

Le Dîner en Blanc
Le Dîner en Blanc

Imagine a picture-esque Long Island destination packed with 15,000 foodies and fashionistas dancing, dining and partying under the stars while dressed head to toe in white—despite it being well after Labor Day.

That scene is set to play out when Le Dîner en Blanc, an annual pop-up picnic held in cities worldwide, makes its Long Island debut on Oct. 6, with one catch: the time and location are secret until those lucky enough to be invited meet at pre-event rendezvous points.

“Long Island is such a booming place right now…we thought that this would be the best place to have Le Dîner en Blanc,” said Bridget O’Brien, a spokeswoman for and co-host of the event. “There’s so many fashionistas on Long Island, there’s so many foodies, and bringing all of them together at one place would be a phenomenal event.”

François Pasquier devised Le Dîner en Blanc, which has been held in iconic locales worldwide such as the Eiffel Tower and in over 30 cities, including New York City, Washington, D.C., Montreal and San Juan, since starting in Paris in 1988.

“Why not us?” asked Donyshia Boston-Hill, CEO of the Brand Marketing & Digital Agency, who is also co-hosting the event. “Why should we be left out of this amazing, magical evening?”

Attendees must be invited by an insider, register online with their invitation code and bring a date—as the traditional event culture thrives on coupled attendance. After registering, attendees sign up to meet at one of the nine designated departure places on LI so they can arrive in unison at the final, secret destination.

Guests will arrive with a white square folding-table and two white chairs, a white picnic basket and/or bag, a gourmet meal for two, a white tablecloth, cloth-napkins, cutlery, dishware, glassware, a white garbage bag and their white-clad selves.

Upon arrival, guests will be accompanied by their assigned Table Leader, who will give them a precise seating location to set up their table. After the table’s entire row has been set up the guests can sit.

Once all of the guests are seated, they participate in a symbolic wave of the napkin signaling that they may start dancing. As they dance, they will light sparklers, creating a summer-like ambiance.

“In NYC, the napkin wave was literally 7,000 people waving their napkins all at the same time to start the event,” O’Brien said. “It’s really something you’ll be talking about for quite some time.”

The event is also hosted by Shanoy “Mr. Nightlife” Skeete, and Graphic Designer Daphne Charlost. Event sponsors include Lord and Taylor Manhasset, Vera Moore Cosmetics, The Garden City Hotel, Discover Long Island, Nassau County Museum of Art, Audi of Lynbrook and Long Island Press.

Registration for Le Dîner en Blanc is $49 per person. Make sure to register for this unique experience before it sells out. The event is rain or shine. For more information about Le Dîner en Blanc’s Long Island debut, visit 

Peak Pumpkin? Maple Surges in Battle of Autumn Flavors

The big debate this fall is maple versus pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin spice flavoring is reportedly losing its popularity to new maple products after years of pumpkin invading our stomachs, souls and coffee cups with autumn vibes—although not all of Long Island is ready to make the switch.

“I feel like the fact that [pumpkin spice is] around for a short amount of time and it’s different than vanilla and hazelnut with that little extra spice—and then it’s gone—it creates an excitement for it to come back,” said Valley Stream resident Stephanie Pontillo, manager of the Babylon Bean Coffee House. “Even though you can technically get it all year long, we have pumpkin bread all year long, other people I know cut themselves off after a certain amount of time.”

Not everyone is so pro-pumpkin.

“I prefer maple spice but I hate pumpkin flavoring,” said Carly Hayes, manager of Bellmore Bean Cafe. “I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin.”

Hayes isn’t the only maple fan. There is a 49 percent increase of pumpkin spice products in the national market, but each year their sales only go up 21 percent, according to a report by MarketWatch that cited a study by 1010data, an analytics company. That means people aren’t consuming pumpkin spice products—from pumpkin spice coffee to pumpkin spice gum—at the rate they’re being sold. The study also found sales of non-alcoholic maple beverages are up 86 percent this year.

“We may be at peak spice, and we’ll quickly know whether pumpkin spice has jumped the shark as this season’s sales roll in,” Samir Bhavnani, area vice president at 1010data, told MarketWatch.

While there are reports that pumpkin spice is going out of style, many local business owners, national coffee chains and all around pumpkin fans still swear by the seasonal flavor.

“For our guests, seasons evoke feelings of nostalgia, and when seasons change our fans are looking for products that are going to evoke those feelings and memories,” said Justin Drake, senior manager of public relations for Dunkin’ Brands—a chain with 200 locations in Nassau and Suffolk.

In a Twitter poll, people on the Island voted for Pumpkin Spice versus Maple, 58 to 44 percent. So don’t expect the classics to retire anytime soon.

“The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is an annual tradition for many customers and baristas…while we have offered maple products to customers in the past, there are no maple items currently on our menu,” said a spokesperson from Starbucks, crafter of the famous of Pumpkin Spice Latte. “The Pumpkin Spice Latte is Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage of all time.”

While the spice’s market dominance may be softening, Starbucks’ rival, Dunkin’ Donuts, isn’t dumping pumpkin anytime soon. But they are riding the maple wave.

“Pumpkin has been great for us and it’s not going anywhere,” Drake said. “But we want to continue introducing exciting new flavors that we think are relevant for this time of year, such as our new Maple Pecan flavor for our coffee and espresso beverages, as well as our Maple Sugar Bacon Breakfast Sandwich.” 

Long Islanders Hold Hurricane Harvey Charity Drives, Fundraisers

Texas National Guard Soldiers arrive in Houston to rescue stranded residents in flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 27, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by/1st Lt. Zachary West)

To repay the outpouring of help they received after Superstorm Sandy, Long Islanders are holding charity fundraisers and drives to support survivors of Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and Louisiana last week.

Storm recovery is an issue that hits close to home for Long Island, where many residents lost homes, property, businesses, loved ones and personal belongings in 2012—with some still recovering. As a way to give back, some are hosting donation drives to send assistance to survivors while others travel to Houston to volunteer.

“We know the exhaustion factor, the physical and emotional toll these catastrophic events have,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, which is sending three teams of 40 volunteers to Houston. “I thank those volunteers who have responded to this call to action, and every team member who has expressed a desire to help those who are suffering.”

Check out some ways you can help benefit those impacted by Hurricane Harvey:

Adelphi FTA School Supply Drive
Adelphi University University Center, 1 South Ave., Garden City. 11a.m.-3p.m. Sept.5-8.

BBQ Fundraiser
Atria Plainview, 12 Washington Ave., Plainview. $20. 4:30 p.m. Sept. 6.

Help for Houston
Mulchany’s Pub and Concert Hall, 3232 Railroad Ave., Wantagh. $20 online and at the door. 5-9p.m. Sept. 6

LIU Cares Hurricane Relief Drive
LIU Post Campus Concierge in Hillwood Commons, 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville. 9a.m.-5p.m. Sept.7.

BRG Benefit for Hurricane Harvey
Monsoon Steak & Sushi, 48 Deer Park Ave., Babylon. $50 online and at the door. 6 p.m. Sept.8.

Bring Donations to Congressman Thomas Souzzi’s Office
Bring donations such as cleaning supplies, baby products, flashlights, personal hygiene products, first aid supplies, gift cards (please note that no cash or check donations will be accepted) and non-perishable food items or canned goods. 478A Park Ave., Huntington or 250-02 Northern Blvd., Little Neck.

Donate to Island Harvest Food Bank
Bring donations to an Island Harvest Food Bank location. 15 Grumman Road West, Ste.1450, Bethpage; Hauppauge Distribution Center, 40 Marcus Blvd., Hauppauge; Uniondale Distribution Center, 875 Jerusalem Ave., Uniondale. 9a.m.-3:30p.m. Weekdays (Continuing)

Other ways to help?

The Red Cross
Donate $10 by texting HARVEY to 90999, visiting or calling 1-855-999-GIVE.

United Way Relief Fund
Text UWFLOOD to 41444.

The Salvation Army’s Hurricane Harvey Relief.
Visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.