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