Posts Tagged ‘cocktail party’

Helping neighbors build communities–Jules celebrates Boston LISC and Mayor Menino

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

In every sense of the word it was a 'full' program

When the Greater Boston Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) contacted Jules Catering’s Mimi Deignan and asked if Jules could pull together a high-profile fundraiser for 450 guests, most of whom would be arriving hungry and thirsty directly from work and descending more or less in one fell swoop upon the¬†Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology’s¬†historic lobby and auditorium in Boston’s South End, Mimi didn’t hesitate:

“Yes, we can!”

The Mayor, looking reassuringly robust, arrives!

“And Jules will make it really special,” Mimi was quick to add, “not just because LISC is an organization that has made such a positive difference in our community and its 30th anniversary is a landmark event, but because among the hundreds of colleagues, activists, and friends of the organization attending will be Boston Mayor¬†Tom Menino, the president and CEO of the Boston Foundation,¬†Paul Grogan, and WBUR radio host Tom Ashbrook, as well as¬†many¬†other wonderful people who qualify as “luminaries” because they work so hard to make¬†Boston a better place for¬†all¬†of us to live.”

Boston LISC believes in opportunities for all

The notion that everyone has the right to live in a safe, prosperous neighborhood rich with opportunities is a core belief of the¬†Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and for 30 years the Greater Boston office has been providing funding, financing, and technical assistance to¬†help transform disadvantaged neighborhoods. An excerpt from Boston LISC¬†Executive Director Bob Van Meter’s March 15¬†Boston Globe Op Ed,¬†Three Decades of Rebirth and Renewal,”¬†captures the gist:

“Today, Boston is a safer, healthier and yes, prettier place, where neighborhoods once written off as hopeless now thrive. LISC didn‚Äôt know how to make that happen alone, but it knew how to bring together the people who could: philanthropists, bankers, community leaders, businesses and, maybe most important, the residents themselves, who always know best what their neighborhoods need to get back on their feet.”

Hugs all around--and cheers to good neighbors!

Clearly, Greater Boston LISC has a nurturing vision, and when it comes to supporting those who nurture, Jules has a vision, too! 

Jules Catering handles large parties with ease

Jules is fastidious about shrimp preparation

“You’re right,” Mimi told us, when we marveled at how great the hors d’oeuvres tasted, how skillfully food and drinks were served and replenished, and–bottom line–what a good time was being had by all.

“You can’t pull off an event like this without meticulous advance planning and superb organization,” Mimi elaborated. “Nor would it be possible if we couldn’t absolutely rely on each other to tackle individual tasks, while also working together as a seamless team. Congenial bartenders quickly responding to throngs of thirsty celebrants, tray-bearing servers wending their way through party guests deeply engaged in conversation, chefs who immediately acclimate to off-site kitchens with all their particular quirks–only when every member of a team pulls together can a party like this succeed.”

Incredibly, we observed, the Jules team makes it look easy.

“That’s because we’re professionals. Jules handles big (and small) parties with ease.”

Jules' take-charge Party Chef Alex Restrepo sends Honey-Lime Shrimp with Citrus Aioli on its way

Longtime Party Chef Alex Restrepo oversees preparation and presentation of food, in this instance, serving trays for passed hors d’oeuvres, as well as large platters for stationary food displays.

While we paused to admire the Franklin Institute's Charles E. Mills 1910 murals, Jules' Robyn Michel gets to work

LISC celebrants occupied every nook and cranny of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology’s meeting space. Above and just below, guests mingle in the airy, marble-floored lobby¬†with Franklin-themed murals painted by Charles E. Mills (1856-1956).

We were struck by how unobtrusively Server Maggie Caro (and her colleagues) offered hors d'oeuvres to a packed house

Jules’ Party Planner Mimi Deignan (shown passing between the balloon-festooned reception area and a food-laden table, just above) was in constant circulation, as were Jules’ servers. Passed hors d’oeuvres included:

Honey-Lime Shrimp with Citrus Aioli
Sesame Chicken with Soy Cilantro
Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Tartlets
Beef Tenderloin Crostini with Caramelized Onions

Some stationary food displays were all-vegetarian

Vegetarian offerings included Jules’¬†Meze Platter, which featured:

Grilled Eggplant
Baba Ghanoush
Vegetarian-Stuffed Grape Leaves
Homemade Pita Chips and Sesame Seed Lavasch

Catering large parties is 'a piece of cake' for Jules

And, just above, in the Franklin Institute’s dual-purpose auditorium/ballroom, which we were were told is a scaled-down replica of ¬†Boston’s¬†Symphony Hall, Event Sales Manager Brooke de Moraes¬†makes certain that every guest will enjoy a piece of Anniversary Cake.

We never have to ask the always gracious Mimi Deignan to say 'cheese,' because she's always smiling!

“Jules likes nothing better than to support good causes,” Mimi told us, as we bid adieu to the Mayor and gathered our things to go. “To take good care of those who take good care of others is enormously satisfying–not just for those of us working this party tonight, but for all of us at Jules.”¬†

Looking ahead, Jules will leap at every opportunity to cater to our 'Neighborhood Mayor'

Photo Credits: Liz Muir

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The ‘anatomy’ of Jules-catered parties

Monday, January 14th, 2013

How does Jules cater parties? With the help of Jules’ Director of Business Development, Jenny Willig, we began to¬†count the many ways.

A food station before party-time; notes in bowls are one way the kitchen and 'front of the house' communicate

“I’m glad you asked about this,” said Jen, “because my sense is that¬†some¬†of our clients so strongly associate us with one particular type¬†of event that they may not fully appreciate Jules’ wide-ranging capabilities.”

We can guess at some of the distinctions, we offered. How would you break things down?

Party variables

“When partnering with individual clients and working through the event-planning process, we factor in¬†a number of basic elements, including:

  • Drop-Off Versus Staffed Event
  • Venue Location
  • Logistics of Event (plated, buffet, alcohol served?)
  • Food Display/Presentation

Jules also offers simple or elaborate flowers, table decor, and other decorations

What about menu options? we wondered.

“Culinary preferences and menus¬†are of course¬†the heart and soul of Jules Catering, but this is such a vast topic, let’s focus on food another day.”

Over the course of 2012 we captured in photos at least some of Jules’ wide-ranging capabilities–

“Let’s see what you’ve got.”


Every day, the five vans in Jules’ fleet are loaded up and sent on their way to drop off food in and around Boston. On a typical weekday, Jules makes about 45¬†drop-off deliveries.¬†

Jules Catering drivers triple-check lists before loading, driving, and dropping off

Jules drops off hot and cold food to corporate and academic institutions, as well as to private homes.

Staffed Events

“Drop-off is a big part of Jules’ business,” Jenny continued, “but some parties require–and some budgets allow–on-site chefs and and/or bartenders and/or waitstaff.¬†Whatever¬†the budget and customer preferences, Jules’ expert sales team works hand in hand with clients to ensure successful events, and–when a staffed party makes sense–Jules has at the ready a full-service team.”

Jules Party Chefs Takes Charge in Private Homes

Jules' party chef Alex preps appetizers in a client's home kitchen

Party staffer Gus rolls up his sleeves for party prep in private home

Jules Party Chefs Prepare Food On-Site in Corporate Kitchens

Some Jules-catered events call for on-site party chefs

 Jules Waitstaff Set Up Wine Bar in Private Home

Ready for bubbles? Greg and John are ready to pour!

Jules Offers Full-Service Bars and Expert Bartenders

This wedding party featured a full-service bar; Anita is ready to mix and pour, Daniela is ready to serve



“What are the desired atmospherics? This is one key¬†variable we take into account when selecting a venue or adapting to a given space,” Jenny continued. “Of course the good news is: Jules can create a party atmosphere in any location.”

Large Off-Site Venue
(Cocktail Party)

Jules staff prepare for a large off-site party that featured food stations, bar, and cafe tables

Private Home
(Cocktail Party)

Jules caters parties--large and small--in private homes

 Corporate Venue
(Holiday Cocktails, Dinner, and Candy Station)

Candy station set-up for an on-site corporate holiday event

Corporate Venue
(Small-Scale Holiday Brunch)

John, a regular on Jules' waitstaff team, awaits arrival of families for corporate holiday brunch

(Wedding Catered at  Private Home)

Members of the Jules team strategize next steps in wedding-party set-up


Food display and presentation 

“Jules loves a party,” Jenny continued, “and we pride ourselves on the quality and ever-changing variety of our passed hors d’oeuvres, our buffet offerings, and our plated meals.”

Passed hors d’oeuvres

Hors d’Oeuvres (Almost) Ready to be Passed and Served

An on-site party-chef arranges Coconut Chicken with Pineapple Salsa on a Nambé (leaf-shaped) platter

Hors d’Oeuvres Can Be Prepared and Passed in Private Homes

Jules prepares to pass hors d'oeuvres

Waitstaff Pass Hors D’Oeuvres in Large Venue¬†

Large cocktail party fundraiser featured passed hors d'oeuvres

Food stations

Many parties Jules caters feature help-yourself food stations. Parties like these may or may not also feature passed hors d’oeuvres.

Food Station in Private Home
(Adjacent Buffet Table Is Reflected in Mirror)

This party in a private home included a buffet (reflected in mirror) and food stations

A simple, but elegant, cocktail party display

Stationary Food Displays in Large Reception Area

There's an art to setting up stationary food displays

Jules Catering dessert station--before setup

Jules Catering dessert station--after setup


“Of course a variation on the food station is the full-fledged buffet table,” Jenny explained. “Even buffets designed for large groups¬†can be minimally staffed.”

Buffet Setups in Private Homes

An especially splendid Jules-catered cocktail party buffet

An extra-special Sunday brunch buffet

Buffet Setup for On-Site Staff Holiday Party

This holiday buffet for 90 guests was capably managed by just two staff members

Holiday Office-Party Buffet in Private Home

Some of Jules' clients opt to host 'office parties' in private homes


Jules really IS a “full-service” caterer

So, we challenged Jenny. What if we were to say we were ready to party and wanted to brainstorm our options?

I would say, ‘Give Jules a call!’ “

Jules-catered events run the gamut from dinner for two at home to off-site events for 2,000

Jules Catering Order Sheet for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and dinner

Jules can also help arrange for music


Photo Credits: Liz Muir

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The theater of party prep

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
Because we were curious to learn how Jules Catering sets up a cocktail party for 225 guests in just three-hours time, we showed up early for the company’s May 1st, 25th-anniversary party. And we were amazed at how efficiently the team pulled together…how quickly and dramatically events transpired.
Watching from the sidelines, the concepts of stage management, stagecraft, and scenography came to mind. 

May Day Baskets were colorful 'props'

Ready…set (-up)…action!

Performing the part of Stage Manager was Jules’ Owner-Chef Anita Baglaneas (below, left), who directed a cast and crew of 25¬†talented colleagues in the practical implementation of her artistic vision. For example, when deciding to include Cucumber Water in the menu, Anita said that she gave equal weight to “color and taste.” And when we observed the interaction, just below, we overheard her initial judgement, “Too green.”

Anita 'directs' cucumber water

“Scenography absolutely applies to setting up a party,” Anita agreed. “Just as people in theater never lose sight of their audience, so those of us who cater events never forget that we have to¬†engage our¬†audience. And this goes¬†beyond offering delicious food and attentive service. Any Jules’ party is a multi-sensory experience–an event that unfolds over a defined period of time, offers entertainment, and, yes, even stirs emotions. For all these reasons party set-up does require a sense of stagecraft and, in some ways, a catered event can unfold¬†like dramatic play. But not farce,” she hastened to to add. “Not The¬†Comedy of Errors!” she laughed.

What about the venue? we inquired.

“Seaport East’s Wintergarden inspired us all. I mean… What a place to stage our 25th-anniversary celebration. Look around you…it’s a fabulous atrium. Talk about ‘theater,’ it even offers balcony seats!”¬†

The Wintergarden at Seaport East–a dramatic setting

The glass-enclosed Wintergarden at Seaport East, which is part of the¬†Seaport Place¬†complex, really is an outstanding place to throw a party.¬†The filtered light is lovely, and the space itself suggests a sort of ‘theater in the round.’¬†

Just outside, looking especially lush under showering skies, is Eastport Park, a 1.6-acre sculpture park with views of Boston Harbor.

The Wintergarden atrium is bounded by a 1.6 acre sculpture park with harbor views

 A fresh production

Fresh flowers were of course a vital element in the overall design. Below, a Jules’ ‘set decorator’ begins to tackle arrangements.

Jules selected fresh flowers and arranged them on-site

The clock was ticking. Of course the clock is always ticking. But it was very nearly curtain time, which meant that transforming the table designated ‘The World of Sushi’ into a dramatic display was the task at hand.

Sushi was not placed on display until just before guests arrived

Jules’ Executive Chef Albert Rosado (below, left) sprang from the kitchen to take charge of sushi set-up. Time was of the essence.

Once sushi set-up began, it had to happen fast!

A cast of thousands (of sushi rolls, that is)

No wonder this table was dubbed ‘The World of Sushi.’ Jules prepared 200 pieces of eight different types:

Spanish Maki Roll with Saffron Risotto, Chopped Chorizo, and Chicken
rolled in thinly sliced Spanish Ham

Southern-fried Chicken Sushi with Sushi Rice, Cole Slaw, and Barbeque Aioli

Jewish-Style Maki Roll with Smoked Salmon and Chive Cream Cheese

Greek-Style Sushi with Arborio Rice, diced Tomato, and crumbled Feta
with Ouzo-scented Shrimp and Taramousalata Dressing

Salmon Caterpillars

Shrimp Tempura Roll

Barbeque Eel Roll

Vegetarian Sushi with Soy Ginger, Wasabe, and Pickled Ginger

Just in time, eight varieties of sushi rolls take center stage

Rave reviews

Guests were happy, so it was a pleasure to mingle. Our various Hi, how are you’s?¬†were unanimously greeted with ‘two thumbs up’ and five-star reviews.

The Seaport East cocktail party gets under way

As a member of MIT’s Chemistry Department, Michele Harris was already familiar with Jules Catering’s lunchtime offerings and office holiday-party fare. When asked about her favorite menu item for this party, she said it was a tough call, but that the prosciutto and saffron maki was what she may have enjoyed most. Jules was new to Michele’s companion, Matt Purdy, who said he was impressed by the multitude of vegetarian offerings, including (and maybe especially) Jules’ giant white beans.

Michele Harris of MIT and Matt Purdy of RISD kindly pose for a portrait

Later, we caught up with Jules’ Food and Beverage Manager, Paul Malcuit, whose daily responsibilities include placing orders for every¬†Jules-catered event. He reminded us that any catered ‘production’ doesn’t involve just food and drink, but also equipment.

“Of course it’s essential to have everything you need to cater a successful event, but you don’t want to pack too much,” he explained. “As an off-site caterer, Jules has to haul out of a party, every utensil, every glass, every piece of equipment we brought in.”

Sounds challenging, we observed.

“Not when you know what you’re doing.”

Well, Jules certainly seems to know what they’re doing.

Modestly nodding, Paul agreed.

Jules' Food and Beverage Manager Paul Malcuit celebrates with daughters Courtney and Caitlin

The party’s over…(almost)

When we were gathering our rain gear, to head home, we caught wind of a rumor that just across the street from Seaport East, the¬†Charles Riverboat Company’s new 97-foot luxury yacht, Valiant, was docked. Jules Catering has a longtime partnership with the Charles Riverboat Company…but more about Jules’ nautical offerings some other time soon!

View from Charles Riverboat Company's 'Valiant'

Photo Credits: Liz Muir


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“The Greatest Party On Earth”

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012


We appreciate your skepticism, but we attend a lot of parties and from our point of view the April 28 Artists For Humanity fundraiser at the EpiCenter in South Boston’s Fort Point Channel Arts District was over-the-top terrific, inspiring, and really, really fun.¬†

Not only were the hors d’oeuvres, drinks, people, entertainment, and venue top-notch, but the ‘bee’ theme inspired by¬†the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees¬†sent us home with lots to think about. (Click to view the¬†trailer.)

Passed hors d’ouvres from Jules

Jules, a preferred caterer for events at the LEED-certified (i.e, certifiably ‘green’) EpiCenter, demonstrated support for AFH by donating two types of hors d’oeuvres, which were passed on trays decorated with felt bees, stick hives, fresh rosemary and oregano.
Back in the set-up tent it all looked so great we asked Party Chef Keith Swindell and Waiter John Falvy to stop in their tracks to pose with:
Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Fig-Balsamic Glaze
Roquefort Cheese on Raisin-and-Nut Crostini with a dollop of Honey fresh from the comb

Trays decorated with beehives and sunflowers captured the spirit of The Greatest Party On Earth

Moments later, John and his wait-staff partner Susan Merriman rode the “honeycomb express” elevator to the second-floor studio, where Jules’ hors d’oeuvres were generating some serious¬†buzz.

John and Susan smilingly accept compliments on Jules' playful presentation of hors d'oeuvres

Here’s a BEFORE¬†image of one of the bee-themed trays:

Honey fresh from the comb sits atop Roquefort cheese, which sits atop a raisin-and-nut crostini

And here is a (very soon ) AFTER¬†photo, featuring Lo McShay of lolo event designs and key players on Jules’ Social Events team: Director of Business Development Jenny Willig and Events Sales Manager Mimi Deignan, who stands with a tray stripped bare of hors d’oeuvres and ready for replenishment:

Jules Catering's Jenny and Mimi say, "There's more where this came from!"

AFH art and artists

Twenty-one years ago artist-educator-environmentalist-entrepreneur Susan Rodgerson founded the nonprofit Artists For Humanity to provide art programs for underserved youth.

More precisely, AFH’s mission is to bridge “economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.”

How are they doing?

According to an AFH flier we picked up at the party:

  • An estimated annual audience of 1.2 million people view fine art created by AFH apprentices
  • 18,000 vistors to the AFH EipCenter experience the “voice, vision, and virtuosity” of AFH young artists each year.
  • 96% of AFH high-school seniors have gone on to post-secondary education, with the rest entering the work force.
  • $1,055,000 was earned through the production and sale of youth-inspired art and design services, and gallery rentals.
  • AFH art has been purchased by Fidelity Investments, Boston Medical Center, Harvard University, the Federal Reserve Bank–and Jules’ very own Jenny Willig (to name just a few).

Athena E, one of the young Artists For Humanity, stands before fellow-artists' work

Should you, too, feel inclined to purchase some art, you can do so either by stopping by the EpiCenter when studios are in session (call 617.268.7620, to schedule a visit), or by shopping online at the AFH Shop.

The EpiCenter, South Boston: Birthplace to art

AFH artists work in a bright, airy 23,500 square-foot facility that features renewable technologies and energy efficient systems. Among the cost-efficient and sustainable design features are:

  • passive solar heating
  • aggressive insulation
  • a greywater recycling system
  • creative materials re-use

This last feature, the use of recycled materials, impressed us most when we popped into the powder room and were struck by bathroom furnishings designed by a local artist who made use of debris left over from the EpiCenter’s construction.

Even the EpiCenter's mezzanine-level ladies' room is a work of art


¬†Why the ‘honeybee’ theme?

A series of signs posted on the walls of the EpiCenter encapsulated the serious ‘green’ theme underlying The Greatest Party On Earth:

  • The honey bee is responsible for 80% of insect pollination.
  • Researchers estimate that nearly one-third of honey-bee colonies in the country have vanished.
  • One-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants.
  • Bees are are responsible for pollination of approximately one-third of the US’ crop species.
  • Three-quarters of the world’s 250,000 flowering plants, fruits, and vegetables require bee pollination in order to survive.
  • Cattle’s main source of food, alfalfa, is reproduced thanks to bee pollination, and without alfalfa, cattle would starve.

Colony Collapse Disorder

Curious to learn more? You could start by reading the April 20¬†“Silent Hives”¬†Daily Comment post by New Yorker writer¬†Elizabeth Kolbert¬† or the Harvard Gazette summary of a soon-to-be-published study¬†by a Harvard School of Public Health researcher. Both describe the alarming phenomenon known as¬†colony collapse disorder, in which adult bees abandon hives. And both publications make the case that a commonly used pesticide may be a factor in CCD.

A film documentary that provides yet another take on the topic is Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?:

Penn State promotes honey bee health

In August, 2008 we were lucky to find ourselves in Rock Springs, PA, where we donned protective hoods in order to observe a hands-on presentation by experts from¬†Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, which was offered over the course of the University’s annual 3-day exposition,¬†Ag Progress Days. ¬†It was there that we first learned about colony collapse disorder and Penn State’s efforts to help ensure honey bee health.

Beekeeper Craig Cella and Penn State entomologist Maryann Frazer talk 'colony collapse disorder'

To our untrained eye the queen was barely distinguishable from the workers and drones

To help us keep track of the queen, a Penn State expert applied a harmless yellow dot

Next time a honey bee–or any pollinating insect–flies by, we hope you will join Jules Catering in shouting out a heartfelt “Thank you!”

Photo Credits: Liz Muir
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“Our Bodies, Ourselves”

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Our March 20 post highlighting the wonders of edible spoons triggered memories of a Jules-catered¬†cocktail party for 100 guests from 12 countries last October. Jules, as a¬†longtime supporter of¬†Our Bodies, Ourselves¬†(originally called the Boston Women‚Äôs Health Book Collective), offered edible spoons–along with a host of other passed¬†hors d’ouevres and buffet¬†treats–in honor of the 40th anniversary and ninth U.S. edition of the landmark book¬†about women‚Äôs health, reproduction, and sexuality,¬†Our Bodies, Ourselves.

A longtime supporter of Our Bodies, Ourselves, Jules donated the 4oth anniversary cocktail party

In her remarks following the musical interlude, OBOS Executive Director Judy Norsigian expressed appreciation: “You should all know that Jules Catering donated the food and¬†the drinks…and their staff is wonderful. I want to thank Anita Baglaneas for her longstanding support and also note that before the party, Anita and I discussed the possibility of updating the long-out-of-print Greek edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

The music provided by Ali Amr and Shaheen Lavie-Rouse was as world-class as the food

Qanun player Ali Amr and cellist Shaheen Lavie-Rouse¬†weren’t the only ones to deliver virtuosic performances. Feast your eyes on a small sample¬†of delectables Anita included in her international menu:

Fruit and Cheese Displays 

Spanish and Italian fruit and cheese were as artfully presented as they were delicious. Marveling over these displays, we hesitated to disturb them. Was the Jules team inspired by still-life paintings by Old Masters? Velasquez and Carravagio come to mind.

Italian Fruit and Cheese

Burrata, Parmesan Chunks, Bell Paese, Gorgonzola
Fresh Figs
Assorted Crackers & Crostini

Jules catering food display crackers and tongs

Spanish Fruit and Cheese

Monchego, Idiazabal, Gorotzka, Semi-Hard Goat Cheese
Marcona Almonds
Quince Paste
French Bread, Breadsticks, Crackers

Spanish fruit and cheese display

Fresh figs in fruit and cheese display

The conversation is in full-swing‚Ķyou’ve got a glass in one hand‚Ķyou’re sorely tempted to pluck up an hors d‚Äôoeuvre with the other, but‚Ķ¬†how will you juggle it all?

Jules makes it easy:

Passed Hors d’Oeuvres

Thai Chicken and Lime Salad in a Wonton Cone
Felefel Pizza with Cucumber, Mint and Yogurt Sauce
Grilled Tenderloin Crostini with Roasted Onion Jam
Coconut Shrimp on Curry Coconut Edible Spoons with Pineapple Salsa

Edible spoons

When it’s time for dessert, Jules’ offerings are so tidily ‘packaged’¬†you barely need a napkin.

Passed Desserts

Greek Yogurt, Honey, and Walnuts on Asian Spoons
Chocolate Mousse Cones

Chocolate mousse cones

And, if you’re calorie-conscious, rest assured that each dessert cone is sufficiently small to qualify as a “Mini-Mousse!”

Photo Credits: Liz Muir
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