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Catering Governor Rendell's Inaugural Ball January 21st 2003. Part One.

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I intended to write this post about 6 years ago as the event's tenth anniversary was approaching. I didn't. It's still a fun story and hopefully my memory will entertain and inform you about what was the biggest and maybe best event we ever undertook and executed at Max & Me Catering. As Governor Wolf prepares for his second inaugural, it marks 16 years since we took over Harrisburg's Farm Show Complex and turned a tractor and animal manure laden event hall into a fancy full on high end catered event for Pennsylvania's movers and shakers.
A little background. In December 2002, Max & Me Catering had been on a 3 year run of growth and winning venue contracts, and earlier in 2002 it was announced (after having to keep it secret for almost 9 months) that we had won the plum contract perhaps in Philadelphia catering history, the National Constitution Center. Integral to our success was the addition to our team of Larry Cohen, a major restaurant and special event…

Bryce's Catering & Me!

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It's been over three years since I have written in this blog. Lots of news and changes. I have been looking for a catering company to partner with for over a year now. In making my decision many factors came into play, other than compensation the most important was autonomy. So I made the decision last Friday to join Bryce's Catering out of Haverford. Having done some type of consulting/sales work for probably 18 of Philly's top 20 caterers, I feel I am uniquely qualified to teach event planners the landscape, and strengths/weaknesses of the local catering market. If you know me, you know I'm a straight shooter.

Bryce's is a full service on/off premise and drop off caterer with an over 15 year history of excellence. I would NOT join a catering firm that I can't endorse 100%. Alan Brody, the founder and owner, looks at things differently, as I do, and I'm sure we'll make a dynamic team.
So, even though the holiday season will soon draw to a close, keep …

Authentic Catering, here we go again...

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I guess it had to come to this. After over 7 years of trying to help other catering companies grow, and almost 10 years since I last was the driving force in a catering company, I have decided to incorporate and create my dream catering company. As most of you know who read this blog regularly, the most enjoyable and rewarding job I have ever had was with Max & Me Catering. The six and a half years that we grew the company from under one million dollars in sales to almost twelve million was a wild and crazy ride that I will never forget. The relationships we made, the high profile successful events, the great staff, and the happy repeat clients made the those years that I was mostly absent from my family seem worth it. Until it all came tumbling down. Ever since, I have been chasing that feeling and hoped to achieve it through alliances with other successful catering companies, without having to do the real work myself. It kind of worked and I was able to put my daughter through …

Reminiscences of Max & Me Catering. Part VIII

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As we continued the process of growing Max & Me as a premier corporate catering concern in Philly, a new venue that was under construction came into my awareness in the Spring of 2001. Jaisy Styles, who at the time was with PGI, a major event planning and destination management company, told me about the National Constitution Center and that I should contact a Phil Castellano to find out about the plans for catering in the venue. Well after many calls and emails that went un-returned, I eventually found out how to get in the door. Rather than rewrite what I have already written, I'm going to regurgitate three separate Facebook posts that I wrote last year. These are what prompted me to do this series on the history of Max & Me Catering. After these three Facebook posts, (which I tried to write on anniversaries of the occurrences) I decided to just write the whole history as a blog series. Now I have reached this point, and I feel like just cutting and pasting and sharing. …

Reminiscences of Max & Me Catering. Part VII

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After the crazy month of the lead up and execution of all our RNC business, we all had some nice downtime to relax and reflect. For me, my real work and what I wanted to accomplish with Max & Me Catering was just about to begin, which was to transform a high end, mostly Bucks County based catering company into a major player in the Philadelphia (and beyond) event world. In reviewing our history and current work calendar, I also wanted to focus mostly on growing our business through corporate events as opposed to weddings which had been the bread and butter (or maybe in our case the lobster & filet) of Max and Jon's business. There's nothing wrong with weddings as a major part of a strong caterer's event mix, but I felt we needed much more corporate to balance out the calendar and allow us to have more full time dedicated employees.

So, other than focusing on corporate events, what was our strategy going to be for growth? In discussions with my brother Jon, dating …

Real Food Works and Sally Ann Spivak (Gold)

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Easter morning. Reflections on life, death, and my past, present and future. Thoughts turn to one of my current projects and how it grabs an important piece of my past and brings back some very interesting memories that I have yet to write about. The movie "When Harry Met Sally" came out in 1989. My mom, Sally, passed away in June of 1988, so we never got to use that as a joke or pop culture reference. For those few of the readers of this blog who knew her, you will remember what a unique and amazing person she was. I will write more about Sally some day, but for this post I'm going to cover our family's adventure in eating that began in 1971 and how it is now a part of my daily work life.
Quick background. My father and his brothers (and others) opened the Electric Factory in 1968. Shortly afterwards they hired Marguerite Gaffney, who quickly became my mom's best friend. Already trending towards accepting the new and different, Sally embraced the new counter cu…

Sixteen days on the road. Powdery peaks, Pinot Noir & perpetual motion.

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Colorado and California. The two states I have spent the most time in other than my native Pennsylvania. Lived in California in 1971 to 1972 and then for 4 months in 1976 and 5 months in 1977. Moved again to the Bay Area in 1987 and left in 1994. Colorado was were I ski bummed for two successive winters in 1979 and 1980. Returned to finish my undergraduate degree at University of Colorado from 1982 to 1985. Every time I leave either state, I can't wait to return. Two diverse and incredibly beautiful places. Two very distinct but related mindsets. I can't seem to get enough of either place and every time I return, the list lengthens of places I still want to experience or revisit. Here's a cool tune: Rufus Wainwright's California
This latest journey, which ended on Thursday March 12th, was propagated by my previous trip last spring. Visiting catering co-conspirator Damon Miele in Santa Barbara and hearing more about the event he runs, The World of Pinot Noir (WOPN), mad…