How Après Noir Tapped Drake, Jennifer Hudson and Robin Thicke for Lavish Dinner Party Performances

Frank Hoensch/Redferns
Drake performs live during a concert at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on March 9, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

In Toronto, the Parentela family, owner of the 74,000-square-foot Chateau Le Jardin event space, has secured top music talent like Drake, Robin Thicke and Jennifer Hudson for something they believe is the first high-end option in an increasingly VIP-centric music “experience” business: a yearlong, monthly members-only “epicurean event” series called Après Noir.

The creators -- Canadian hospitality vets Carlo Parentela, 58; daughter Natasha, 25; and son Julian, 27 -- are offering attendees, limited to 940 people per event, a night out that marries concert performances with a six-course meal from a top chef, wines and champagne, a fashion show and on-the-spot live visual art. The top package for all 12 events -- which costs $19,700 -- adds a personal butler and other perks like caviar.

After the soft opening on May 17 with host Bob Saget, a menu by chef Bobby Flay and sets by Thicke and Arianna Bergamaschi, Après Noir continues on July 26 with Hudson, while on Nov. 29, Drake will headline with support from fellow Canadians Jessie Reyez, Mia Martina and Shakura S’Aida. The evening will be hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Mikey Day. “Members” will also enjoy a Dolce & Gabbana fashion show and art courtesy of Daniel Mazzone, while chef Giada de Laurentiis serves up risotto sprinkled with 24-karat gold flakes.

Carlo came up with the Après Noir concept last October as an alternative to New York and Las Vegas business junkets, targeting all industries but especially real estate developers, lawyers and the financial sector. “It’s an evening to get people to network,” he says. Quarterly memberships are intended for executives with bottomless bank accounts or the need to truly wow clients; the cheap seats go for $975 per person (which includes dinner, but no fancy alcohol).

When they first started booking, says Julian Parentela, “agents were not returning our calls.” That changed when the family landed Drake with the help of two friends in the nightclub business, Massimo Grisafi and Nick Regina. Now they’re already eyeing an expansion to other North American cities and beyond. Says Julian: “We believe in our model.” 

This article originally appeared in the June 2 issue of Billboard.