This month, I am tying my shoelaces in double knots, taking a running leap and landing SMACK right in the middle of Rx for Catering LLC’s well-worn soapbox. Usually I jump up here to crab about, well — whatever is on my mind. But not this month! I proudly want to talk about two happenings that I think are great.
First: Congratulations to Hector Santiago of Pura Vida Restaurant in Atlanta, Ga. Chef Santiago is a competitor on the next installment of “Top Chef,” beginning Aug. 26. He is so special to me. I have been a huge supporter of him and his off-the-charts culinary talents for many years. Hector, good luck on the show; I know you will continue to exceed expectations! If you want to read more about him, check out “Claire’s Kudos” in the 2009 Plan Your Meetings annual guide, where I profiled innovative chefs who always go over and above the norm.
Speaking of over and above, for the first time ever I am going to shine the high beam on a client. Everyone say hello to Mara. Hello, Mara! Mara did something so “kool” that in I just had to share with you, because it affects everyone who can’t make their F&B minimums.
This year, I counseled several meeting planners who were in an absolute tizzy because they had negotiated their culinary F&B minimums back when the economy was good, and now that it’s bad, they are locked into minimums they can’t meet. Mara was in the same culinary boat. But, instead of ordering more food, ordering more food, ordering more food to meet her minimums, she has taken a much different approach.
What did Mara do? She took the financial portion that she wasn’t going to spend, and donated those culinary dollars to a charity. Not the money — but the F&B dollars. Now, that charity can come to the property and have their banquet, using the F&B dollars Mara’s event couldn’t use.
Smart? Darn right. It’s smart for several reasons: In this economy, many corporations don’t have money to donate to charities. This allowed her company to support a charity and help it hold a fundraiser. A higher percentage of the fundraiser’s money can go to the organization, now that the food is paid for. And, Mara didn’t have to be wasteful, over-ordering food and beverages that her group couldn’t possibly consume. She still got to be smart with her culinary choices, wasted nothing and made a big difference to a charitable organization.
Brilliant Mara! Very brilliant. Now, please take a bow.