Monday, December 12, 2011

New Year's Eve at The Piazza!!!

We're going to cover the whole freakin' Piazza with a tent!!! Party. On.
Witness the next phase in the evolution of the party. I have been involved off an on with these big NYE bashes since we did the first "Glitter City Gala" at the Constitution Center in 2003. That was a very cool party all those years but was fairly one dimensional. This year I am totally excited and honored to work with the  four owners of King's Oak, Gunner's Run, PYT, Raw Restaurants and the Piazza to bring you (if you don't miss out) a Five Ring Circus of a New Year's Eve Party that is, and will be the talk of the town before, during and long after the Champagne mist clears.

For one ticket price (don't be a cheapskate, get the VIP ticket, the upgrade is more than worth it) you get entry to the half acre tent with tons of food (literally, I'm handling quantities) from all four restaurants, bars with more than enough bartenders to keep up with the NYE rush, Steamroller Picnic for the music headliner, top DJs and many more surprises we are adding. You also get admittance to all 4 restaurants where there will be other drinks not offered in the tent, more food, and probable other antics destined to give you plenty of fodder for your New Year's Resolutions!!!

Sounds good, huh? Any questions? See you there.

Get out your credit card.
Click this link: http://philadelphia.cities2night.com/event/184927
Buy some tickets.

Season's Greetings,
Harry

Monday, November 28, 2011

September, October, November...

Katie & Me, Independence Pass, August 30, 2011
Good Morning, readers of my blog. I am determined to get back into writing with a fury, so watch out! Since one of my favorite sayings is "Those that don't learn from history are destined to repeat it.", I always feel the need to relive the past; with my own spin of course. Today's post will deal with the fall catering and events season, as experienced by me, as I went through some fairly big changes in my life. I love this picture of my daughter and me, I have been using it as my Facebook profile picture ever since she sent it to me. What an incredible trip that was for the two of us. Eight days on the road, Memphis, Ozarks and the heart of the Colorado Mountains, ending with a wonderful introduction to her college life at Johnson & Wales University in Denver. She is doing great there, and just yesterday began the most important part of every (almost) Colorado college students year: Ski/Snowboarding season.

Feastival, main restaurant area
The first major event for me of the fall season was the Second Annual Feastival on September 14. It was great to work with Audrey Claire Taichman, Jennafer Ross, Stephanie Krzywanski and Liz Trasmundi on silent auction donations and then get to help out with restaurant logistics the day of the event, especially as I got to work with my old buddy Erin Lambert from the Max & Me days, what a treat! The last major event Erin & I did together was an event for Audi in 2006, and ironically we found ourselves directing restaurant load-in traffic to make room for the evenings auto sponsor: Audi!
Cool Ice Sculpture, BF Bridge behind
I also helped the ice sculptor for the evening haul and install the hanging piece pictured here as well as the ice bar. I managed to break my pinky finger while attempting to keep the ice from falling off the cart at one point, stupid move on my part. There were approximately 75 restaurants and I never got around to reviewing or taking notes on all the food I ate. It was a great event, very well produced, especially cool was the outside lounge area set up on Columbus Boulevard. Peter Breslow, my PR buddy did this video for the producers of Feastival, watch it, he did a very nice job: Feastival Video.

Creative Juice does it again!
The 16th Annual Taste & Tour of The Countryside was another major hospitality industry event that I was involved with, it was held on October 18th at Drexelbrook Events Center and is produced by Jim Cohn for the Brandywine Conference and Visitor's Bureau. I am now a confirmed believer in this event as an important promotional opportunity for caterers that want to reach top corporate and social event planners. It has always drawn great crowds but now the quantity and quality of planners attending should make every caterer that contemplates missing it think twice. I already covered this event in a previous blog so I won't blather on.

Best picture I could find, sorry Joey.
Some other September events I attended included the PAMPI monthly meeting held at the new event space at WHYY studios with some very tasty catering by Catering by Design; BBQ, Brews & Blues at The Electric Factory; Society of Wedding Planners at The Foundry; ISES monthly at The Ballpark and The Rittenhouse Row Fall Fest held at The Comcast Shops, decent food but yummy and powerful cocktails. The Popped Festival should have been a very cool food event with a nice list of restaurants that would have participated in the food bazaar had the weather not forced the event indoors where there was no realistic way to accommodate the food vendors.

Mobile production kitchen, Innovative rocks movie set eats!
Octobers frolics included The Midtown Village Fall Festival, Party Rentals Open House which had some delicious and innovative cocktail snacks and cocktails served with panache by the Drexelbrook team; Night Market at Chinatown, PAMPI monthly in the new portion of the PA Convention Center; ISES monthly at Buca di Beppo; Two Film Industry Parties including the GPFO's annual soiree held at Vie; Philly 100 Event at Annenberg Center; PCMA Bowling Night at Lucky Strike (North Bowl rules); and the Valley Forge Food Show. Lots of eating, lots of fun, lots of networking.

Sigma Sound Stage, one block from the PA Convention Center
Feastivities, new chef cart at Sigma
PCVB lunch, Mike Lyons and friends
November work/play events started the month with a bang, first up was the Philly Event Group's event at Sigma Sound Stage. This event was awesome: the space, location and history of Sigma make this a top choice for many different types of events; Feastivities food was really tasty and very creative, their chef carts are a great new way to feed the people. The next night AFR (American Furniture Rentals) did a great job with venue choice, their products and a great team of other vendors. The food however did not measure up to Feastivities' menu or execution the night before, and many attendees left to get dinner elsewhere. Many other networking and party times followed in November: PAMPI's Silent Auction at the Hub City View where it was great to see Shreve Taylor cheffing it up; Amis' Industry night that I attended with Jenn Carroll, great take on Thanksgiving food by Terence Feury of Fork; Whisper Nightclub's First Anniversary Party; and on the 23rd, the most important networking event of the year, the PCVB annual luncheon. New President Jack Ferguson transformed the lunch into a much better experience by making it a full time networking event with many different food stations and an open bar, thanks Jack!!!

Piazza, New Year's Eve. Lookout!

Looking forward, I am lucky enough to be part of the team that will be bringing you New Year's Eve at The Piazza. Huge tent, 4 restaurants, lots of entertainment and a world class event team. I don't normally go out for NYE, but when I do, I attend events like this. You can actually contact me for tickets.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Important thought & a little levity...

I wanted to share a Facebook post from the Dalai Lama this morning: "The more adept we become at cultivating an altruistic attitude, the happier we will feel and the more comfortable will be the atmosphere around us. But if our emotions fluctuate wildly and we easily give in to hatred and jealousy, even our friends will avoid us. So even for people with no spiritual beliefs, it is important to have a peaceful mind."
The Dalai Lama and Namkha Rinpoche
It reminded me of my closest brush with the Dalai Lama, here is part of the story. In 2008 my aunt Marguerite was doing a series of events around the country with Namkha Rinpoche, a disciple of the Dalai Lama. They came to Philly and I cooked an elaborate meal for their traveling party. After the meal I said to Namkha, "Hey, Rinpoche, how about a little something for the effort"; he said "They'll be no money, but in the near future you can subscribe to the Dalai Lama's Facebook posts and it will be great knowledge for you" So, I got THAT going for me...
 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taste & Tour, then BizBash!

Taste & Tour 2010
A very busy and fun couple of days coming up. Today is the great event Taste & Tour of the Countryside which is produced by the Brandywine Valley CVB and Mid-Atlantic Events. It takes place at Drexelbrook Events Center, and I have a few tickets left if anyone would like to go, leave a comment on the blog or email me by 3pm. Jim Cohn, Tore Fiore, Dominic Savino/Gene Blum and their teams do a great job with this event every year. It's an opportunity to taste food from a number of caterers, restaurants, hotels and event facilities. It's also an excellent networking event with many of the most important and connected folks in the hospitality/special event world in attendance.For more info: http://tasteandtour.org/

Colin Cowie will be appearing at BizBash
Tomorrow I head up to Manhattan for BizBash's Expo & Awards Show, which in the past I have always thought was my favorite national trade show and conference for the event industry. I'm curious to see how it has changed now that it is held at The Javits Center. I have always found more new interesting products and services at this show than anywhere else, and BizBash was my inspiration for the "Fresh" event that I initially proposed and helped launch for Philly ISES in 2006. We wanted to do BizBash Philly but had to settle for one of the owners of BizBash, Richard Aaron, as our keynote speaker. I hope to see Richard tomorrow. If anyone is going, let me know, it would be fun to meet up.
For more info: http://www.bizbashnewyorkexpo.com/

Okay, I'm off to round up promotional items and decor for my clients for tonight's shindig, Electric Factory posters and memorabilia, LED candles (no flame, right Sandy O?), linen, and maybe some mini-pumpkins.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great day.

Harry 10/18/11

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Consulting for caterers, assisting event planners.

Andalusia
Since I have not really covered this topic in depth, today's post will be an explanation of my consulting business, and how I may be able to help you with catering and venue selection for special events. I currently represent half a dozen caterers and restaurants that also cater.. I also work with other caterers and event venues on specific project based  assignments.

Electric Factory
The core of my value to event planners is that in representing many different caterers I essentially represent many dozens of venues, and I can be an invaluable resource to provide them with location choices to fit the needs of their events. Since I am paid by the caterers and venues, my service is free for event planners. I maintain a proprietary database of almost 200 venues in the Metro Philadelphia region; I began developing this list about 10 years ago in my Max & Me Catering days, and have added to and refined it ever since.
Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Many of the venues in my database are rarely used, not well known, and thus are very exciting when a planner wants to do something different and new. There are many venues in the Philadelphia region that get used over and over again because people are used to going there, and they are good event venues, but may become a bit too familiar and uninspired for the seasoned planner and their event attendees.

Skybox, 2424 Studios
In addition to representing numerous venues, my catering and restaurant clients cover a very wide spectrum of cuisines, price ranges and capabilities. This gives the planner more flexibility in that component of their event. I also help planners put together events with multiple caterers and restaurant participation. My experience with many of the biggest events of this type is useful for planners to draw on for development, planning and operational aspects if they are doing a similar event.

This blog post has been brought to you by Harry Spivak Consulting. Thanks for reading, please share it, especially with those that you think may be able to use my services.

Harry
harryspivak@gmail.com 
10/11/11

Thursday, September 15, 2011

RIP Max & Me Catering

It's been over a month since my last post, call it my summer vacation. Backlog of very interesting topics to share with y'all (as my Memphis family says) and they will appear as my busy schedule permits.

Jon & Max, as the roller coaster left the station
I could not ignore this latest development in the ongoing saga of my old company, Max & Me Catering. The handwriting has been on the wall for over 5 years now, with no Max, and no Me (whoever you want that to be, myself, my brother, etc.) , why would Libre/Guest Counts/M&M/Culinary Concepts/Gourmetro, continue to use the name Max & Me Catering? I have often said to myself, self, why would they not change the name? Well they did, as of yesterday, they have rolled all their names into one: Brulee Catering by Jean Marie Lacroix. Click and see what you get when you go the Max & Me catering URL: http://www.maxandmecatering.com/. Ain't that some shit?


Does anybody think Brulee is a good name for a catering company? I think it makes you think it's a dessert only caterer, but that's just my obviously highly biased opinion. More important, is Jean Marie Lacroix an active working chef insuring high quality for all their events or is his involvement more marketing driven? Time will tell.

Kind of a bittersweet day for me, on the one hand the company I helped create, that has transformed into something very different the last five years, will no longer pretend to be something they used to be. On the other hand it is the final end to very a revered brand and a big chunk of my life for many years. I will be sharing many stories from the heyday of Max & Me Catering in the coming months and none of them have anything to do with brulee or counting guests.

Nice to be back.

Love & Harmony,

Harry

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Random Notes

With apologies to Rolling Stone. Sometimes I need to string together many diverse experiences and thoughts into one post, that is what I offer y'all this morning. My recent reduced output of quantity has not resulted in a raising of quality as I look back and read older posts, I guess practice helps.

Thanks to Philly Chit Chat for the photo


Last Thursday I attended Philadelphia Magazine's Best of Philly party that was held at the unfinished event space called Vie. This is the much anticipated new venue for the owner of Cescaphe and Tendenza, Joe Volpe. It is located at 600 North Broad in the old Wilkie Buick dealership which will also have two restaurants, one a Stephen Starr New England Style Seafood Shack and the other by Marc Vetri. This facility will be Mr. Volpe's first venture that will be more geared towards corporate events and it has a lot to offer, from size (capacity of 600 seated and 1000 reception), to location, to the very cool outdoor courtyard, to the excellent, always abundant culinary offerings. The food served at the event was very good and included a huge cold shrimp display, a slider station with burgers and mini South Philly style pork sandwiches, a never ending Sushi Station, and some nice passed items. Daughter Katie, my date for the evening, came to the event hungry and was very happy that she waited to eat. GPTMC's "uwishunu" website did a nice summary of the Best of Philly if you want some highlights before you tackle the whole list in the magazine. Click it: http://www.uwishunu.com/2011/07/philadelphia-magazines-best-of-philly%C2%AE-2011-issue-hits-newstands-today-get-a-sneak-peek-at-some-of-the-winners-and-why-theyre-honored-to-be-the-best-in-philadelphia/  I thought it was cool that Zahav won for "best restaurant to take your New York friends to", as that was the last restaurant I took New York friends to (even though they are both from Philly originally) and they were very impressed.

Two of Jon's current catering clients, Ruby & Bear
Mmm, Jon's grilled chicken. Nice.
Earlier in the day last Thursday I helped brother Jon cater for the cast and crew of a video shoot for Lil Wayne. Jon was in his best form and he served some very yummy food and had less than 24 hours to prepare. He still has it folks, and hopefully in the very near future I will have my first video clip in the blog, it will be an interview with Jon about some of his very fascinating history as one of the premier backstage concert caterers ever to bone grapple a rider.

Answer to question number 2, at top
My last post had a trivia contest and if you didn't see my comment, the winner was Jennifer Angelo who first answered all three questions correctly. The answers were Kevin Bacon, the Chambers Brothers and Bill Graham. Now if Jen would just tell me where and when I can deliver her prize. Hopefully it is sooner than the last prize I had to arrange for her, that took two and a half years to fulfill. Jen is a very talented event designer and is great to work with on corporate or social functions. The plug was an extra bonus Jen, no charge.

Sunday I checked out the Northern Liberties Second Street Festival. It was very well done with 4 stages, lots of crafts and food booths and beer gardens. Unfortunately it was just too hot to stay long and enjoy. Had a very tasty vegan fried chicken taco (seitan) from Dos Segundos.

Katie and da Munge. Colorado, February 2002
I have begun many cool projects for later this summer and fall. I started to plan the road trip that will end in Denver at Johnson & Wales University where Katie starts school in September. We are planning to take ten days and to stop in Memphis, New Orleans, Austin, El Paso and Santa Fe. Food and culture will be our main focus, although I am bringing my golf clubs and laptop for blogging. I am also helping with the silent auction for the Feastival, an amazing collection of chefs and performance art taking place at Pier 9 on September 14th. Buy your tickets now, it will sell out: http://www.phillyfeastival.com/ If you have a really cool and valuable idea for a silent auction item, let me know. Another project is a new concept for an ongoing series of networking events that I amhelping a colleague with, stay tuned for more info on that, they should be fun and profitable.
 
An Ambler farms update. Tomatoes are finally ripening, Black Krims, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebras and Beefmaster varieties are all pictured below.
Just harvested this morning

 One last snippet, totally unrelated to catering but very inspiring. Read this article. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/08/110808fa_fact_schmidle

Have a great day, enjoy.
Hershel 8/3/11

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Electric Factory. A versatile, exciting event venue.


The Electric Factory is the very first special event venue I ever experienced and also worked in. When I was ten years old my father, Joseph “Jerry” Spivak hired me to alphabetize the mailing list of the Factory. The pay was $1 per hour, they had about 40,000 names on small metallic plates, and I got half way through the letter “B” before I retired to focus on my 5th grade studies. 

A packed house at the Electric Factory

Larry Magid's New Book
The original Electric Factory was a converted tire warehouse at 22nd and Arch Streets in Philadelphia, it opened in 1968 and closed in 1971. The original opening group was my father, his two brothers Herb and Allen, Shelly Kaplan and Larry Magid. When the Factory closed they began using the name Electric Factory Concerts and took most of the business to bigger venues such as The Spectrum. Larry went on to become the face of the business and with Allen running the business side they made EFC one of the most successful music promoters in the country. My father and uncle Herb went on to focus on their growing restaurant chain, HA Winston & Company. There have been some great articles about the history of the Electric Factory and EFC written recently by most of the major publications in Philadelphia. These articles were prompted by the release of Larry Magid’s excellent coffee table book “My Soul’s Been Psychedelicized”. Here are a few links to some of the articles as well as one written in the Philadelphia Weekly a few years back that focuses more on the Spivak's history of the business.
 
http://articles.philly.com/2011-07-05/news/29739210_1_sh-boom-music-promoter-electric-factory
http://www.citypaper.net/cover_story/2011-06-16-larry-magid-my-souls-been-psychedelicized-electric-factory.html
http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/music/2009/07/16/herb-spivak-the-first-man-behind-philadelphias-music-scene/

Kashmir Event for PCMA Convention, January 2006


There was no concert venue called the Electric Factory from 1971 to 1995 when Larry, Allen and Adam Spivak (Allen's son) opened a new space at 7th & Willow in Philly and recreated the Electric Factory. A converted industrial space it instantly became a major concert venue.

Max & Me Catering started doing backstage concert catering for EFC in 1997 and when I joined the team in 2000 we were doing most of this unique form of catering for them in shows that took place in the Philadelphia area. When the venue was booked for two shows during the Republican National Convention in Summer 2000 featuring Lynyrd Skynrd and Blues Traveler, the event planner was referred to us for catering. This began my history with doing special events at The Factory. We did many events between 2000 and 2006 when Max & Me Catering morphed into it's current ownership situation.
Another groovy event at The Factory
Blues Traveler

Here are some of my favorite events that we did at the Electric Factory, and a few other caterers did.
Blues Traveler and Lynyrd Skynrd 1500 guests each night, RNC 2000
ISES Showcase, 400 guests, 2001
Pharma Event, American Psychiatric Convention, 2500 guests, 2002
Larry Magid's Rock & Roll Charity Auction, 500 guests, multiple years
Starwood Hotels Kashmir Event, PCMA Convention, 700 guests, 2006
Alexandra Spivak's Bat Mitzvah, 150 guests, 2007
EFC's 40th Anniversary Party, 1000 guests, 2008
Jen & Chase Utley's All-Star Animals, 600 guests, 2010, 2011
Jen & Chase Utley's All Star Animals Event at the Factory
As you see, the Factory has hosted a wide range of corporate, social and charitable events and there are many different ways to utilize the spaces that comprise the venue. Total capacity for a cocktail style party is 2500 and by tenting the large parking lot you could do an event for up to 5000. An obvious advantage of using the Factory for your event would be the great set up of staging, lights and sound that are already in the venue and are packaged into facility rental pricing at a cost far below what it would be to rent anything close to the quality and capabilities that you get here. They also have some of the best production staff in the business to help with your event. Another great feature is their bar service, large well stocked bars and fast professional bartenders make for ease in service for your guests.

Belly up, if you book an event with us, next round is on me!
We will be scheduling a promotional party at the Factory in early October to introduce/reintroduce event planners and others in the industry to the venue. Featured at this event will be the preferred catering companies that will be serving some of their best offerings. If you would like to attend you can email me, harryspivak@gmail.com, and if you are a qualified event planner I will make sure you are invited. Also if you are interested in seeing the venue or inquiring about booking the Factory for an event please email or call me on my cell: 610.955.8001.

This is my first site inspection for my blog and the first time I have had writer's block in posting. That's one of the reasons it took so long to get this done. Look for many more of these site reviews in the future, let me know if this is useful for you, I hope so.

Let's close with a quiz. First one to answer all three questions correct, in the comment section below, will win a copy of Larry Magid's book "My Soul's Been Psychedelicized, Electric Factory" a $40 value!

1. What famous Philadelphian was with me when I met Janis Joplin and got her autograph in 1969?
2. What band opened the original Electric Factory in February 1968?
3. What concert promoter teamed with Larry Magid and Allen Spivak to produce Live Aid in Philly 1985?

Thanks for reading,
Harry 7/26/12






Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interesting info from others...

While you all wait patiently for my Electric Factory post, here is some valuable information to read today. The following article from the New York Times shows very clearly why you need real catering professionals to execute off premise events. Restaurants are usually very good at making food in their home arenas, but put them in an unfamiliar venue and watch out. It's not that they can't learn, but often their egos get in the way. Anyone ever had this happen to them? http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/sixty-chefs-in-the-palace-and-still-just-average/?ref=dining

How do you avoid having problems like they did in Versailles in the above linked article? One way is by doing a thorough site evaluation. Mike Roman, the founder and head honcho at Catersource, (the most important catering industry magazine and trade show) has a blog, and he did a post back in May that is the best outline for a site evaluation I have ever seen. Here it is:

Every major event a caterer bids for needs to have pricing based on the actual event site’s features. An event site is either user-friendly or a nightmare for a caterer. To set a price and book a major event without first touring and inspecting the event location is both unprofessional and foolhardy. To determine the good and not-so-good of an event site, use this checklist:

a) Measure all rooms or areas to determine space and flow for:
1) Buffets.
2) Bars.
Mike Roman at Catersource Conference & Tradeshow
3) Band, DJ & dancing.
4) Field kitchens.
5) Cooking or reheating.
6) Trash storage.
7) Preparation and plating.
8) Storage of your boxes.
9) Seating.
10) Etc.
b) Determine how much distance there will be between the prep and plating area and the guests.
c) Check for equipment that is already at the location that can be used, i.e. chairs, dishes.
d) Check for stairs or multiple floors.
e) Check the kitchen (if available):
1) For cleanliness.
2) Try all stove burners and ovens to make sure they work.
3) Verify temperature correctness with an oven thermometer.
4) Make sure hoods and exhaust systems work.
5) Check refrigeration and freezers.
6) Count number of trash containers.
7) Count and locate fire extinguishers. Insure that they are have not expired.
8) Insure that drains work.
9) See if your pans fit into the ovens.
10) Verify the quality of both hot and cold water.
11) Verify that the size of doorways will permit free movement.
12) Etc.
f) Check electrical outlets to see how many exist and how they are connected to each breaker. Learn where the electrical panels are located.
Hey Mike, How about a free subscription?
g) Determine how the delivery will be made. Through which doors will it come and where it will be placed?
h) Inquire about for parking for your staff and your truck.
i) Determine who is in charge of maintenance at the location.
j) Determine if there is going to be any security staff
k) Determine how poor weather will affect your performance, especially if using an outside location.
l) Determine where you will place garbage and who is responsible for removing it.
m) Obtain the phone number of the location. Check to see if your cellular phones receive a signal.
n) If elevators are needed, check to determine the hours that they will be available.
o) Determine which bathrooms, if any, your staff may use.
p) Interview the custodian or maintenance people to see what problems they have had with other caterers.
q) Take video or photos to share with other team members during planning meetings.

Here is a link to Mike Roman's blog, good stuff: http://romansopinion.blogspot.com/

That's all for now, Bob Trimble, you won the produce, but only because I don't feel like tracking Lisa Tieger down, wherever she may be this week, to get her the veggies. 

Harry 7/20/11 

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Cool Blog Post from SoCal

Pauline Parry and her company Good Gracious Events do great work. They produce some of the most innovative food station design work I have seen.   
 http://foodfunandlove.blogspot.com/2011/07/escape-to-church-estate-vineyards.html

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A fun week, great parties...

My favorite chef, Jenn Carroll, and her 10 Arts crew at Best of Style Party.
Back to the blogosphere. I have been working on my first Site Inspection story on the Electric Factory, it's not quite ready yet, but I wanted to relay some of the fun happenings I took  part in this past week.

Tuesday was the Ultimate Networking Party at Chenango, the new restaurant inside the Arrow Swim Club, next to the Piazza in NoLibs. Fun time, decent food, and the highlight for me was that Uncle Bart was going to lend me some swim trunks so I could take a dip. I did not take him up on it though, fear of not fitting and/or ripping them.

Moshulu at Night, nice.
Wednesday I spent the whole day in a seminar on blogging. Very informative if a bit tiring, look for some of my new techniques in future posts and marketing efforts. Wednesday evening was perhaps the premier event industry networking event of the summer, HSMAI's Bash on the Moshulu. The Philly area event industry's most important person, Jim Cohn, is the force behind this party and it gets better every year. It sold out again this time and the collection of industry professionals, both planners and suppliers, is as good as it gets for this type of event. Great weather, excellent passed hors d'ouevres, refreshing specialty drinks and Jim Pfizzenmayer. What more does one need? Special thanks to Jim and his staff for the great hospitality and also accommodating my last minute guest that actually was not able to make it, but Danielle and gang made it easy to relax and enjoy the evening. 

Hard to top a Philly Style party. Publisher John Colabelli is a master at all elements of a successful shindig. Thursday night at The Crystal Tea Room featured enough different food, booze, environments, activities and beautiful people to make the most jaded Hollywood or Manhattan professional party goer impressed. It was very well done from a special event/catering ops viewpoint too. My favorite foods? Jenn Carroll's Tuna Tartar, Snockey's Littleneck Clams and Zavino's Tomato Mozz Salad (Nice job Brent & Jason!). Helping maestro Peter Breslow wrangle interviewees as he filmed the event for Philly Style was really fun. It allowed me to introduce myself to some folks I had never met before like Vince Papale, Stu Bykofsky and Dan Gross.

Introducing a new feature on Catering & Me: The Comment Contest.

Freddy the Carrot, catching rays, LBI
I really would love to get more comments so, the best comment on this post will receive a hand delivered selection of produce from my garden to include: Heirloom Tomatoes, English Cukes, Baby Zucchini, Basil, Italian Parsley and Habanero Peppers. Unfortunately I won't be able to include my favorite vegetable from the summer so far, Freddy the Carrot. I do believe he is an heirloom variety, and his brothers and sisters were quite delicious when brother Josh grilled them last Saturday. He just could not bear to grill Freddy though.

TTFN, enjoy the weekend and look for my Site Inspection of the Electric Factory, posting some time on Monday.

Harry 7/16/11
Happy Birthday to my sister Jenny owner, designer and head server at Cafe Rae, San Clemente, CA

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fourth of July Grubbin'

A cool Fourth of July Food Station, Max & Me, 2003
As promised, here is my long holiday weekend of meeting and eating. I was pretty good in my never ending battle of the bulge by not over eating, staying away from starches for the most part, and even a bit of excercising.

Thursday, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Advanced Staging, West Chester PA
Excellent Burgers, Dogs, Potato Salad, Slaw, Caesar Salad and a nice selection of Desserts. A great kick-off to the holiday weekend, feel good fundraiser and great hosts in Steve and Donna.

Friday, Poolside Libation’s with Peter & Joanne Breslow, North Wales PA
Sparkling Wine, Coppola Chardonnay, Peaches and Plums.
Relaxing afternoon by their beautiful pool, nice brainstorming and hanging with the Breslow's.

Friday Evening, Opening of Rosey’s BBQ, Ambler PA
BBQ Chicken, Smoked Turkey Breast (incredibly juicy, maybe best turkey ever), BBQ Beans and Mac’n Cheese. Delicious, authentic food. Go here, or original location in Jenkintown.

Saturday Afternoon, Pool Party with Maureen Moroney & Family, Blue Bell PA
Burgers , Dogs, Chicken, Baked Beans, Two Yummy Pastas, Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese (deelish),
Beet Salad with Beet Greens, Tomato Tapenade on Croutons

Saturday Evening, Dinner at Josh & Lara’s House, Peahala Park, LBI NJ
Leftovers for me, Sautéed Flounder and Scallops over Jersey Corn Salad, Sliced Tomatoes and Basil.

Sunday Afternoon, ATT Golf,  Aronimink Golf Club, Newtown Square, PA
I didn’t eat here, but we did attend the event, following is a review by my first guest blogger, golf lifestyle correspondent, Olivia Peiffer.

"I was in a private suite sponsored by U.S. Liabilities Insurance.  I was on the 16th green with full views of the 16th, 17th, & 18th holes.  It was literally the best tent on the course.  Most others had views of one hole. I really lucked out. The USLI tent was relatively large, air-conditioned, and set beautifully.  There was a balcony on three sides of the suite with high tops and bar stools so we could watch play on all three holes. The inside was set with bengaline underlays and a beautiful plaid overlay."

"When I first walked in, there was a very nice lunch spread consisting of: Greek Salad; Caprese Salad: Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables & Diced Grilled Chicken: Mango Glazed Salmon with Basmati Rice and Pineapple-Cilanto Salsa, Hamburgers: Braised Beef Brisket with multiple sauces (I opted for traditional BBQ, it was phenomenal, probably the best thing I had all day): Cookies & Brownies and Mixed Berry Cobbler. I enjoyed lunch with a Grey Goose Bloody Mary before I ventured out to walk the course."

"By the time I made it back to the tent, the lunch spread had been replaced by some bar snacks: Peanuts, Chips, Cookies, Crudite, etc. I was very impressed that the catering was not only replenished, but the menu had completely changed. About an hour after the bar snacks went out, another round of food came out: Shrimp Cocktail with Orange Horseradish Sauce; Bagels & Lox with all of the traditional accompaniments; Pinwheel Sandwich Wraps. I was told that this was the fourth round of food that circulated through.  I must have been on the grounds when the other round came through."
 
"Overall, everything from decor, service, and food were so well done. It was a really incredible experience from beginning to end. The PGA went above and beyond to coordinate a flawless experience. 
 
Thanks Olivia, I will be visiting Olivia soon at The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company, a great bar and event space near Rittenhouse Square that is known for crafting amazing classic and updated cocktails. 


Sunday Evening, after golf dinner, at home in Ambler
Memphis Style Brisket (from Rosey’s), Red Beans and Rice, Tomatoes, Basil and Cucumbers (from my garden)

Monday Evening at Donna & Charlie’s Picnic before the Fireworks, Philly
Shrimp & Veggie Skewers, Burgers with Lipton Onion Soup Mix, Brisket (from Rosey’s), Asian Noodle Salad, Sandy’s “Regular Housewife Pasta Salad” and her Pink Lemonade Pie. My most up close and personal experience with a major fireworks display ever. Thrilling.

Tuesday Breakfast at LBI, before heading back home.
Josh: "No habla ingles"
Josh’s Baby Back Ribs, Lara’s Yummy Savoy Cabbage Slaw, Potato Salad, Watermelon and Cantaloupe. A fitting end to the holiday, I love leftovers for breakfast!

This was my first all-out immersion as a participant in the Fourth of July Holiday ever. I am usually working or else avoiding crowds at all costs. I really enjoyed it, but I think going to the beach three separate times, even though the drive was long, helped keep me sane. It really is a great holiday, the complete celebration of America and it's favorite summer foods.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

From The Max & Me Catering Archives, Volume 2

An Event at the NCC
The Fourth of July holiday brings back Max & Me Catering memories. Eight years ago we opened the National Constitution Center, and as the exclusive food service operator we were under tremendous pressure to perform at an extremely high level from day one. The building was to open to the public on the Fourth, but our biggest project was the Gala opening dinner followed by the "Red, White and Blue To Do" on the evening before.

Catersource, the premier national catering magazine, wrote a cover story on the opening of the NCC from the caterers perspective. Here is a link to the summary of the original article, I can't seem to find the complete article in my files or on line. It's a good story though and I have lots more to write about the NCC at a later date including how we were able to win the contract bidding against all the biggest food service contractors in the world. I may even discuss why I left Max & Me Catering and the NCC. Catersource link: http://www.catersource.com/resources/library/event-planning/tight-construction-schedules-and-murphys-law


We always had many other major events going on for Fourth of July, in 2004 we catered the Liberty Medal luncheon for Afghanistan President Hamad Karzai at the Federal Reserve Building across 6th street from the NCC. You can imagine the security level for that event, and the main reason it was held at the Federal Reserve Building was because of its existing fortifications; security procedures and ingress/egress protection. What made it so challenging for us was we had concurrent events at the NCC, as well as a picnic for over 1000 guests at The Andalusia Estate for Southwest Airlines. It was Southwest's introduction into Philadelphia and the picnic was for employees, supporters and their VIPs. The best thing about this event was that we were partially paid in Southwest's "green" tickets. These are the ultimate airline ticket, short of first class, as they are completely changeable at any time, and you can book as many stops as you want with layovers on the same ticket. I have been trying to get more business from Southwest ever since!

I'm doing lots of Philly stuff for the weekend including the PGA Golf event tomorrow and Welcome America on the Parkway Monday. I may even review some of the picnics, barbecues and parties from the weekend. I did eat at Rosey's Barbecue in Ambler last night and they were packed most of the day. I went in just before closing and the only item they were out of was Collard Greens, a reason to go back today. The staff was still happy and helpful, and I had a great meal. I texted Chad after I left, a very simple: "A+". It was great to meet Chad's wife Jessica, my second cousin. I'll let you all know about Rosey's grand opening event coming soon. Rumor has it that Jessica's sister Toby Lightman, will be performing. If you have not heard Toby before, check her out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1-ReS47Nyw&feature=related

Have a fantastic Holiday, remember and celebrate the incredible work of the founding fathers to create the great country we live in.

Party On!

Harry 7/2/11

RIP Jack Herman, you will be missed.