Archive for the ‘Good Works’ Category
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:
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
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
If you’ve read the book,¬†seen the¬†film,¬†or heard the¬†song¬†(which didn’t actually appear in the film, but which has become a jazz standard), you’ll know that Portrait of Jennie¬†is a fantasy about a mysterious and charming girl/woman who–because she pays absolutely no heed to the strictures of time–cannot be counted on to show up where and when she’s expected.
In contrast, Jules Catering’s equally charming (but entirely reliable) Director of Business Development, Jenny Willig, operates in real time and is an authentic presence, not only at Jules’ busy Somerville office and at countless metro-Boston events, but also at¬†Cambridge Chamber of Commerce¬†gatherings, which she values for providing “rich opportunities for professional networking.”¬†
Whereas “Jennie Appleton” (played by Jennifer Jones) is a cinematic vision based on a work of fiction, Jenny Willig (‘playing’ herself) is the real deal.¬†
Triptych of Jenny (or, Jenny X 3)
Case in point: When we caught up with Jenny greeting Cambridge Chamber of Commerce guests as they boarded the Charles I docked outside the CambridgeSide Galleria,¬†she was simultaneously¬†playing at least¬†three roles:
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Jenny Willig welcomes CCC networkers aboard
The onboard conversation was lively…it was a perfect end-of-summer evening… How could we not hop aboard to observe Jenny juggle three roles?
I. Mapping strategic paths to develop new business
We launched the conversation: Fill us in on your role as Jules’ Director of Business Development.
1874 plan for Charles River Embankment
“This is a new position for me–and for Jules–so we’re still navigating our way. I’ve been doing this for just about a year, and a key objective for me is to think ‘big picture’ and do what I can to build business on behalf of the sales team.”
“I’m still selling. I’m still responsible for my own client retention,” Jen continued, “but the new challenge is to take my experience as a salesperson and help devise a cohesive strategy about how we can connect with new companies that might be an especially good fit with Jules.”
Jules has a lot to offer, we observed, our mouth full of crab cake. (We know better, but we couldn’t help ourselves!)
Jules' Crab Cakes and Beef Sliders
“The food is of course great, and in terms of service and sales…well, the fact that we’re all¬†very different personalities works to our advantage. We have the luxury of thinking: ‘Who on Jules’ sales team would be a good fit¬†where?'”
“We also have longevity on our side. I just celebrated my 14th anniversary with the company, and many on the team have been with Jules for at least 10¬†years, which translates to long-term relationships with existing clients–as well as the promise of continuity for those who are new to Jules.”¬†
Quality service and food enhance group dynamics
We learned at LinkedIn that you majored in Psychology at Clark University, while also pursuing Sociology and Early Education. With regard to your professional life, has this triple concentration served you well?
“Every day I use what I learned! So many situations in catering are case studies for group dynamics–how people eat, how they approach one another, how they interact. And a catered event is¬†more than just social–it‚Äôs visceral. Even in corporate settings, where people are often working toward a very specific objective, my goal is for them to viscerally have a good time.”
“I’ve been known to say that while great food and service won’t guarantee ‘World Peace,'” Jenny laughed, “these things do¬†make a difference, because when food and service are¬†not good, it can very negatively impact the dynamics of a group.”
Charles Riverboat Company's Heather Clay, third from left, co-hosted the CCC event
¬†II. Cheerleading for the Chamber
Give us a little background on your history with the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.
‚ÄúA few years after I started with Jules I wanted to explore opportunities for some professional development outside the food industry. So I approached the Chamber because they represented a larger world–one I was eager to explore.‚ÄĚ
“In 2005¬†I joined the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee, which is a welcoming committee for new members, and which has provided me with opportunities to do for the CCC a lot of what I do for Jules.”
“Cheerleading wasn’t something I did in high school,” Jenny smiled, “but it turns out I’m pretty good at it–at least for Jules and the Chamber. And as a member of the Ambassador Committee¬†I’m part of a team that promotes the power of networking–we help people who might not be accustomed to promoting themselves learn effective ways to ‘put themselves out there,’ while also demonstrating how worthwhile Chamber events can be.”
“Kelly Thompson Clark, President of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, is a person who never ceases to amaze,” Jenny continued, “especially when I consider how very accessible she makes herself–not just to me, but to all 1500 members! I can’t remember a time when we sought input from Kelly that she didn’t help us out.”
Jenny’s claim prompted us to see if Kelly Thompson Clark might help us out…with a quick sketch of Jenny. Kelly didn’t disappoint: “The CCC¬†is so fortunate to have a member rep like Jennifer Willig. She’s always first to volunteer, get others engaged, and she actively promotes the hard work of her fellow members and the Chamber. Jen is such a tremendous¬†addition to the CCC’s Ambassador Committee, it‚Äôs no surprise she was awarded the Ambassador of the Year in 2006-07.”
Kelly is also a big fan of Jules, describing the company as “a model member and corporate citizen. Their co-sponsorship of the Charles Riverboat networking event was just the latest example of how supportive they are of the CCC¬†and community.”
“Since Jules joined the Chamber,” Kelly continued, “they have involved themselves in events, committees, and other area activities, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt why they were awarded the 2003¬†Excellence in Business Award.”
III. Partnering and co-hosting with the Charles Riverboat Company
Party Partner Heather Clay
We turned back to Jenny, to say how happy we were to be partying out on the water, and to ask her to tell us about Jules’ partnership with the Charles Riverboat Company.
“Jules has been the go-to caterer for the Charles Riverboat Company for about 8 years–and my colleagues¬†Sergio Ribeiro and Elissa Kupelnick, whose account this is, could fill you in on details. What I can tell you is that Jules provides food for both sightseeing tours and private charters–not just on the river but also out in Boston Harbor.”
Sounds like a logical collaboration.
“It is. And this event we’re co-hosting is a perfect example of two members of the CCC teaming up and showing support for the Chamber and its members. I mean, how great is it to be able to socialize and network in such a¬†refreshing setting! It’s just¬†very¬†satisfying when so many things come together, for so many people, in such a positive way.”
What better place to network than on a Charles Riverboat Company moon-rise/sunset cruise?
¬†Intrepid explorer–on the job and off
We know you enjoy your work, Jenny–because we’ve been watching you! ¬†What else do you do for fun?
“Travel! Most spectacularly at the end of June I flew to Alaska for¬†another nautical adventure,” Jenny said, pausing to watch an MIT sailboat come about against the backdrop of the brilliantly lit Back Bay. “This was a week-long ‘live-aboard’ expedition offered by Whale Song Adventures, which transported us through¬†65 miles of Glacier Bay National Park.”
Sounds amazing. Did that onboard experience compare in any way with this?
“Of course the scenery and the wildlife couldn’t be more different, but there were similarities to my life back here–especially when I consider what my Jules colleagues and I do as off-site caterers. In a way, we’re like a boat crew–a group of highly skilled individuals working together to reliably ‘transport’ our clients to a wonderful place.”
Jenny Willig cruises by Reid Glacier last June in Glacier Bay National Park
One last thing–but¬†SPOILER ALERT!
If you’ve read or seen Portrait of Jennie, you’ll know that the fictional Jennie Appleton is “lost at sea.”
Not so Jenny Willig!
[If you haven’t seen Portrait of Jennie–and if you’re susceptible to gorgeous black-and-white imagery of 1940s Manhattan–add this film to your Netflix queue!]
Charles Davenport’s plan for the Charles River Embankment, 1874:¬†MFA Boston, Wikimedia Commons
Portrait of Jenny in Alaska: Chris Wyatt of Whale Song Adventures¬†
All other photos: Liz Muir¬†
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‚Äôs 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
Monday, December 19th, 2011
Yes, that’s what it took to sweep first-place prizes at Mass Mental Health’s December 16¬†Throwdown!¬†holiday party loosely modeled on a Bobby Flay Food Network competition and conceived and organized by Center Director, Laura Rood.
March of the penguins
Holiday party/food competition
Judging the entries were Area Director of Metro Southeast Department of Mental Health and Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Cliff Robinson,¬†and¬†Jules’ very own Anita Baglaneas. The three categories for contest submission were: Appetizers, Flans, and Desserts. “I have a lot of Latino colleagues and I happen to love flan,” explained Laura Rood, “so the initial concept centered on a flan competition. But we’re a multifaceted group with good appetites, and the competition expanded to include appetizers and other desserts.”
Cliff and Anita assess food presentation while Mass Mental Health staff patiently wait to dig in
While criteria for the judges’ assessment were: Creativity, Presentation, and Taste, the popular vote was primarily based on the “mmm-mmm, good!” factor. And, hotly contested though the competition was, we are pleased to report that there were no voting irregularities and no hanging chads!
The voting process was orderly; polls closed promptly, at 3:15 p.m.
Six $100-prizes were awarded (three donated by Jules), but just five contestants cashed in because Mass Mental Health psychologist Jude Leung, PhD (below), won both the Popular and Judged votes for Best Appetizer. “It was just such an over-the-top fabulous and creative presentation,” enthused Judge Anita. “It was painstakingly prepared, the penguins tasted good, and it made us all laugh!”
Jules supports good causes
Center Director Rood also waxed enthusiastic: “Jules Catering has been a longtime supporter of Mass Mental Health, donating food for parties and picnics that are enjoyed by both clients and staff. This year, Anita gave her time to help judge our event, and now we’re pleased to give a little something back–that is, a recipe for edible penguins!”
Party with penguins!
Penguins¬†are entertaining creatures with interesting eating habits of their own, so if you feel inclined to invite some into your home and share with family and friends, please see below:
Cream Cheese-Olive Penguins Recipe
18 small black olives
4 oz. onion and chives cream cheese, softened
4 oz. block of cheddar cheese
(optional) bell pepper, various colors
(optional) one or two 8 oz. block of regular cream cheese
(optional) blue Jell-O
- Cut a section from top to bottom, lengthwise, into the side of each jumbo olive.
- Using a piping bag, carefully insert into each olive about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese.
- For the beaks, cut 18 small, thin, triangular wedges out of the carrot. Cut a small horizontal slit into each small olive and insert a carrot wedge to form the beak.
- Slice the cheddar cheese into eighteen 1/4-inch thick rounds; cut a small triangular notch out of each cheese slice to form feet.
- Set a big olive, large-hole-side down, onto a cheese slice. Set a small olive onto the large olive, adjusting so that the beak, cream cheese chest, and notch in the cheese slice line up. Secure with a toothpick.
- (optional) Cut long, thin strands out of brightly colored peppers and wrap around the penguins‚Äô necks to form scarves.
- (optional) Use slices of cream cheese and blue Jell-O to form a winter wonderland background of icebergs and sea.
Yield: 18 penguins.
Advance preparation: You can prepare several hours ahead and refrigerate.
Mass Mental Health psychologist Jude Leung, PhD, adapted this recipe from one she found at allrecipes.com.
After the votes were counted penguins roared, "We're Number One!"
Photo Credits: Liz Muir