By Aaron Kaniecki
First of all let me apologize for being absent from blog writing for such a long time. But I am back and ready to attack!
So life with Good Gracious! is moving along nicely. I have worked some fantastic events, and have seen them executed with such precision. After feeling I have gained enough on site experience, I wanted to tackle the world of party managing.
The opportunity was presented to me by Dan Smith, who thought I could take care of his event while he was away in Louisville Kentucky for CaterArts 2011.
The event was in truth basic, but a vast number of people…. Well for what I am used to anyway. It was for 300 people in the morning for breakfast, followed by 550 people at lunch time. It was to be held at the Directors Guild of America, for a conference called Digital Day, where camera manufacturers and other "digital concepts" would show off their ground breaking technology. Pretty cool actually...
As it was my first time managing an event, I wanted to be let in on everything… every bit of information I could get my hands on, so I could feel prepared going into the event. But of course this is catering… and nothing ever goes according to plan.
So I went with Dan to the venue for the rental installation, where I pick up a copy of the floor plans, made extensive, unnecessary notes, and worried myself into a panic. Great start.
Seeing so many tables being carried in, being placed in a specific spot, being a certain size and shape and having a given purpose was intimidating. I had to know every detail. Of course this is just the bread and butter of planning, the very basics, but when you get told this is YOUR responsibility, you start to worry just a little bit.
Upon returning to the office, the dust was able to settle, and I took some time to go over the floor plan, and get my own timeline going. On the diagrams in front of me, I was trying to see the flow of the party, how I can make it easier on us, and who I can delegate to what job.
No harm in being prepared.
As the people in the industry know, catering is all about adapting to your surroundings. So no matter how much planning and preparation you do, tinkering will need to be done.
So bright and early I arrived at the event site, where the GG! truck was waiting for me. I took a deep breath, and dove straight into it.
Now the people who were working with me on the event were all very experienced. And of course they couldn’t help but make fun of me and say how “Our Aaron is growing up…”
I guess they weren't far wrong with that statement!? I mean look at the picture! From a spiky hair do that could take someones eye out, euro, scruff look, to the "new" "mature" "handsome" "dashing" "Americanized" Gentleman...
Personally, I want to be the best. I want to be at the top and pride myself on knowing what it is like to do every job. From selling a party, to serving a beverage, scraping scraps off plates, to dealing with a fussy eater. I want to have an understanding of every role so I can relate to the people at hand.
Of course by doing this, you develop relationships and a comradery between you and your colleagues, and as I found out in my recent endeavor as a party manager, it makes it difficult to speak to them as a superior. Though the individuals I did work with that day were supportive and understood the importance of the opportunity given to me. So that made life a little easier... Thanks guys.
So, back to the event… I established the initial connection with the client, and then proceeded to delegate the duties among the staff accordingly.
Breakfast was nice and steady, with the buffets looking nice and full, the green room getting the VIP treatment, and of course the client getting special attention.
We then had the gap between lunch and dinner where there was a chance for us to grab some food and prepare for the lunchtime rush. Again a chance to delegate, communicate, and react to what ever problems may occur.
It took me a while to get into my stride and to appreciate the position I was in, but eventually I got over the fear of asking people to carry out certain jobs, and it became second nature.
The event ended with the client feeling very happy about the day’s event, complimenting both the food and service. It is nice to hear that as a floor assistant, but it is especially nice when you are a party manager. You feel a great sense of achievement and pride for the job you have just carried out.
I then proceeded to do a final walk through to ensure we had everything, and that the venue was left in immaculate condition. Small details like this was taught to me by Patrick Sullivan, he stresses that there is always someone that needs something, even when the event is over, so get out there, ask, and do the extra thing. That’s what separates you from the rest.
To summarize, a solid first attempt at being a party manager. I just hope the higher authorities (Good Gracious! President Pauline Parry my wonderful, amazing, intelligent, guru, diva, awesome boss) were pleased with my efforts and offer me more opportunities in the future! Let’s keep this ball rolling!
• To become a party manager you need to detach yourself from friends and become colleagues. Have respect for individuals and the positions they hold.
• Ensure the client is taken care of and realizes you are making a conscious effort.
• Don’t write millions of notes in a panic which you won’t be able to read later on, this will only lead to a second state of panic. STOP PANICKING!
• Experience in other areas helps your confidence…. So get scraping some plates!