Posts Tagged ‘EpiCenter’

Jules welcomes Bobby and Brooke

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Not long into our conversation with Jules Catering’s newly hired Event Managers, Brooke de Moraes¬†and Bobby Spano, we experienced a moment of cognitive dissonance: Did the numbers add up? Could these fresh faces really and truly have (in sum) clocked 30 years in the catering industry?

In total, Event Managers Brooke de Moraes and Bobby Spano offer 30 years of catering experience!

“I‚Äôve always been in catering–or at least since I was 16,”¬†Bobby offered.

I started at 14!” Brooke laughed.

Hmm… We did the math… Jules Catering’s new hires really are¬†old hands–with decades of experience between them.

So you found your path into catering very early, we prompted. Now, fill us in on how and why and where you began.

Brooke: “Primarily I’m someone who likes to help plan”

Raised on Martha

“I grew up in¬†Longmeadow, a cute little town south of Springfield, where my mom threw a lot of dinner parties. Every month she eagerly awaited the next issue of “Martha Magazine” (that is, Martha Stewart Living), with the result that many of those tasty and reliable recipes landed on our table. My mother tried¬†everything. She was always cooking new things, and I enjoyed it. (Maybe I enjoy eating a little too much!) ¬†I think this is how it all started for me.”

What then?

“Throughout high school and college I worked for an off-premise catering company near Springfield. At 14 I was a server. Later, I learned to bartend. And some of the time–even as early as age 17–I was actually running the show, managing weddings and tackling some other quite complex events. It was fun, and I learned a lot.”

Brooke de Moraes

“Before joining Jules this winter,¬†I worked as a Catering Operations Manager at a Boston-area caterer.”

“A stand-out event for me there was a half-million-dollar wedding. I treasure this memory, not so much because my clients had tremendous resources and because the wedding turned out to be perfect (it really did!), but because¬†I became so fond of this family. They were so down to earth, so grateful for the help I was able to provide as we moved through the planning process and then the wedding itself–I’ll just never forget it.”

“As is the case with all of my catering experiences, I value the relationships. Even when there are no events on the horizon, people tend to stay in touch!”

Now that you’re with Jules, what’s on your calendar?

“Well, this afternoon I’m meeting with a bride and groom and a representative from the Charles Riverboat Company,¬†for a tasting. We’re planning a June 1 wedding out on Boston Harbor. (How romantic is that?!) I’ve been married for nearly four years, and my low-key, backyard wedding was just what I wanted it to be. But if I had to do it all over again, I might opt for a nautical setting.”

“I don’t want to give the impression I do only weddings (that’s more Bobby’s bailiwick), because I’m very busy with a number of other projects, including staffed events for corporate clients.”

“And I’m thrilled to have joined the Jules team. I have a lot of experience planning and managing events, but one of the really nice things I’m beginning to appreciate about this new situation is that I’m able to turn to longtime event sales managers–people like Lynn and Jenny and Paula, for example–and brainstorm with them about how to remedy issues. This is great, because successfully planning and managing a catered event has a lot to do with recognizing a¬†wide variety of challenges–and then being able to “invisibly” deal with them. By “invisibly” I mean: create the reality for clients that their event represents no challenge at all!”

Is there anything else you would especially like Jules clients to know about you?
“Maybe that while my job title is ‘Event Sales¬†Manager,’ I don’t think of myself as a sales¬†person. Primarily I’m someone who likes to help plan.”


Bobby: “I guide the bride”

Bobby Spano

What about you, Bobby? Where did you begin?

“My first job was dishwasher, then server, then bartender, then manager. I worked my way up, which is of course great training for anyone in catering, because it exposes you to everything. On top of that, my mom was a catering director for a hotel on the South Shore when I was growing up–and she’s still in the industry today. She sells bands for weddings…music.”

Sounds like your mother was influential.

“Ours was a¬†big party house–it still is–particularly in the summer when we all gather around the pool. My father’s family is Italian, my mother’s is Greek–so while she serves grape leaves and all sorts of delicious things, my dad cooks on the grill.”

Other influences?

“I love to dine out. This is also true for Brooke, I know, because it’s important for us to keep tabs on what‚Äôs going on, observe new trends, and then bring the best elements of what we experience back to our clients. “Every weekend I watch the Phantom Gourmet,¬†and I was¬†obsessed with Downton Abbey. TV like this is fun, but it’s also educational. I learned a lot about service and place settings–the way silverware is properly set–from watching Matthew and Lady Mary’s ‘Masterpiece‘ wedding!”

You’ve been here for not quite two months. What were you up to before you joined Jules?

“I went to law school, while simultaneously working at Wildflour Caterers, in Milton. At Wildflour my initial, exclusive focus was weddings and other social events. Later, I expanded into corporate catering. Still later, when I got out of law school and didn‚Äôt immediately find a job as an attorney, Wildflour promoted me to Catering Director and offered me a raise. So I stayed on for another year, and I was comfortable. But when my former (and once again current) colleague Kim Gericke alerted me to an opening here at Jules, I followed up. And here I am today.”¬†

Now that you’re with Jules, will you turn your attention to any particular types of events?

“I’ll be involved with a little bit of everything, but because I love to plan weddings–and because I have particular expertise in this area–weddings will be my special focus. Large, small, traditional, cutting-edge–I stand at the ready to help plan and manage them all.”

“A trend I’m noticing among my friends who are getting married is toward the back-yard celebration, rather than the fancy hotel wedding. These smaller events are fun for me, because when I’m planning a wedding in someone’s home, I’m working with more of a blank canvas. The process can be especially creative.”

“An unforgettable wedding I planned and managed when I worked at Wildflour involved a hurricane! Due to the absolutely crazy weather, we had to change the time of the wedding twice in 48 hours. ‘No, no, no…don‚Äôt come at 4…come at 5!’ There was an outdoor tent, gale-force winds, windswept rain, and¬†mud–and when the bride came to me feeling a little stressed out I simply told her, ‘You gotta have fun. You gotta enjoy yourself because everyone here is either family or friends and we have collaborated on an amazing wedding.’ And she did–she had a great time.¬†Everyone did. Later, at WeddingWire, the bride posted a very positive review, noting not only how wonderful the wedding was, but thanking me for being so friendly and accessible and respectful of the budget, throughout the process. Feedback like that always makes me feel good.”

What else would you particularly like Jules clients to know about you?

“Maybe that because of my law-school background I’m very detail oriented, while also being easy to work with…easygoing. My job is to guide the bride, and so these are qualities that serve me well as I help plan weddings.”

“Once–for just a moment–I thought I’d let down the bride. Her wedding was at the¬†EpiCenter, in South Boston, and when she stepped inside and started to cry, my heart sank. Then, to my great relief, she sniffled and smiled: ‘It‚Äôs better than I’d ever imagined it would be!'”

“It’s moments like these that make me love my job. Planning a wedding is a lot about trust, about building relationships, so when the wedding is over and we all move on it can feel a little bittersweet.”


Photo Credits:
Portraits of Brooke and Bobby: Liz Muir
Magazine Cover: Martha Stewart Living
Lisianthus Stems: Liz Muir
Wedding March: Boston Public Library, Wikimedia Commons
Garden Sign: 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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