Posts Tagged ‘Jules Catering Event Sales Manager’

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’ve 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’s 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’t 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’t 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’s 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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She’s got party DNA

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

“Absolutely I love a party! I was raised in a family that loved to entertain. My mother would say, ‘Oh, let’s have a hat party’–and all of a sudden there would be 100 people at the house, eating and drinking and having fun in their hats.”

“Or my father, the president of a Madison Avenue ad agency, would out of the blue call my mom and say, ‘I’m bringing 20 people home in 10 minutes.’ And there would be a party.”

Partying--and planning parties--are strands in Kim Gericke's DNA

So explained Event Sales Manager Kim Gericke when we stopped by Jules Catering’s Somerville office to become better acquainted with this newest member of the sales team. (Kim celebrates her first anniversary with Jules today, August 1.)

“By age three I knew how to pass trays and mix a martini!” Kim laughed.

Mad man’s daughter

Another ad man's daughter

It sounds a bit like Mad Men, we observed.

“It was straight out of Mad Men! Remember ‘Winston tastes good like a cigarette should‘? That was my Dad’s account.”

Are there similarities between you as a child and Don Draper’s daughter, Sally? 

“Not at all,” Kim countered. “Mostly what I learned from my parents was how to work really hard. To cite just one example, I’d go on shoots with my Dad and, as the boss’ daughter, I put in at least as much effort as anyone else.”

So your parents encouraged you to work hard and enjoy a party–

“That’s the way we were raised.”

A background in tv marketing and promotion 

“For much of my life I worked in television,” Kim continued, “starting off in a ‘Can I get you a cup of coffee?’ secretarial position, which also involved tape-dubbing. This was at WWOR TV in New York, and it worked out really well for me.”

“Before long there was an opening for a production assistant on the syndicated show Romper Room (1953-1994), where I was charged with keeping track of scripts and kids. TV production, by the way, is where I began to develop and hone my organizational skills.”

“After just six months on Romper Room a position opened up in WWOR’s Promotion Department, which is where I learned to write copy, including scripts for the voiceovers that ran as the credits rolled. It was exciting because I was writing for live announcers… This was live TV!”  

“Another really great part of this job happened each February when WWOR would fly me down to Florida, where all the Mets promos were shot. These were high-end commercials involving professional ball players, and it was fun.”

Don’t tell us you’re a Mets fan…

“No!”

“Things took a turn for the worse when I moved to a station in Hartford that also broadcast the Mets, because when that station was sold to FOX all the creative people were let go, including me. Which is what led to my moving to Boston and gradually transitioning into a full-fledged catering career.”

From television to catering

“First, on a very part-time basis, I worked for The Catered Affair. Later I became an Events Manager there, which suited me fine because I’m well organized and bossy,” Kim laughed. “On and off I worked with them for 10 years, eventually doing their marketing and advertising.” 

“From there I went to Different Tastes, which is where I learned how to sell catering, and then I moved on to Wildflour Catering. Now, as you know–because it’s my first anniversary–I’ve been with Jules for one full year.” 

Party set-up at a Jules-catered event

 

 Kim and Jules

Event Sales Manager Kim Gericke celebrates one year with Jules

“I’ve worked at some great places, but I have to say Jules’ food blows me away,” enthused Kim, unprompted. “Quality food is easy to sell.”

“And I love my job because I love to create a party. I think about it thematically, and because of my marketing background I give a lot of thought to who I’m trying to reach–and how.”

“One way I do this is by extrapolating from client websites. For example, leading up to a WebMD party I found a Thai Lettuce Wrap recipe among the website’s healthy recipes, and this kernel of an idea grew into a fabulous cocktail party. [Jules’ Owner-Chef] Anita is always wonderful to brainstorm with, and she just ran with this. She and the chefs are forever coming up with new ideas and fun themes.”

“Media people are my niche…I work with a lot of advertising agencies. It’s all about marketing and what’s a good fit.” 

When we asked Jules’ Director of Business Development, Jenny Willig, to weigh in on Kim’s first anniversary with Jules, Jenny said, “Kim, with her vibrant personality, has been a great addition to our team.  Her creativity and interest in food trends has helped her pull off some really fun events.”

 
Photo Credits:
Portraits of Kim: Liz Muir
Kiernan Shipka and John Hamm: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America
Romper Room: Wikimedia Commons
Mets Logo: New York Mets
Jules Party Set-Up: Liz Muir 
 
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