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Monday, March 30, 2009

Wedding scenes & Sarah's smile

Happy Monday, kids. Thought I'd share some smashing scenes from Michelle and Jeb's William Aiken House wedding. Photos by Squire Fox. Wedding coordination, design/decor, florals by Soiree by Tara Guerard. Cuisine by Fish.

How much do you LOVE those chairs?

In other news, say hello to the new Mrs. Sarah McSweeney Copeland, now honeymooning in Belize. She and Tommy weathered the Saturday storms in grand style and had one heckuva Lowndes Grove wedding (thanks to Luke Wilson Special Events!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Catwalks, G Love, Wayne Newton & PP Nuptials!

(Photo courtesy of The Digitel's flickr.) Wow, what a week! So, Charleston Fashion Week has been lighting up King Street all week long and last night, Fish got its turn to shine as hosts of the After Party. Earlier in the evening, my partner in crime and I made it to the tents at Marion Square to see our pal Mary Norton, Saks, Pearl and Hampden Clothing on the runway. Much fun. P.S. G.Love walked ahead of us on the way there.

The DJ's bass was so loud you could feel it pulsating through your chest (I sincerely love that feeling), and the set design looked like Lite Brite meets disco ball. The models were an interesting mix of tough and demure. (I took special delight in the model who flipped the bird to the press as the crowd audibly gasped and recoiled in horror.)

Oh, and must tell you how much I admire the folks at The Digitel. They have/had their fingers on the pulse of all the CFW brouhaha: Twittering like mad, LIVE blogging, videos, the works. Great job, guys.
Friends from Blue Ion stopped by Fish for some moo shu this afternoon after seeing WAYNE NEWTON perform for the CFW MUSC Benefit. Check it out. He's still got it, people!

And last but certainly not least, one of own PP Event Manager ties the knot this weekend at Lowndes Grove, and we could not be more thrilled. Here's to many happy, healthy years Sarah and Tommy. Congratulations!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

High-risk hospitality & fashion

Not sure if it’s Spring in the air or the collective athletic ability of the PP staff, but helmets and padded suits may soon be required attire for all event staff if we don't watch out. William Aiken House Event Manager Shannon Ilsley sprained her ankle playing arena soccer last night and Lowndes Grove Event Manager Laurel Prasch broke her shoulder while jogging. Get well soon, ladies! And, to the rest of the PP staff...walk carefully. (P.S. The hilarious FALL RISK bracelet comes courtesy of Shannon's trip to the hospital.)
When last we left Fish, we were launching the spring/printemps menu. Deelish! Tonight, Fish hosts the Charleston Fashion Week After Party. My trusty marketing sidekick and I are headed over to Marion Square later tonight to make sure we catch Saks and Mary Norton! Then it's back to Fish for cocktails and the sounds of DJ Todd Cadley. To get you in the catwalk mood, take a peek at one of our favorite flashbacks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Charleston Chefs: Feed The Need

(Nico Romo, Charleston Grill's Michelle Weaver and FIG's Mike Lata)
Lots going on today. The Fish spring/printemps menu launches tonight! Holy escargot, kids. It is divine. It's also Pay It Forward Wednesday, so come on out and show your support to Louie's Kids, battling childhood obesity one child at a time.

This morning, Jodie, Nico, Randall and I met chefs and restaurateurs alike at the Riviera for the launch of Charleston Chef's: Feed The Need. This program and call-to-action comes courtesy of Charleston Grill General Manager Mickey Bakst. When you're talking about pulling people together, no one does it like Mickey. Mickey has gathered 52 local chefs who will produce more than 20,000 meals for Lowcountry residents in the coming year. Specifically, “Feed The Need” will provide meals to Crisis Ministries, Tricounty Ministries, East Cooper Meals on Wheels and Neighborhood House and will be organized through the Lowcountry Food Bank. During Mickey's speech this morning, he quoted Alice Waters so you know I was all in from there.

It's always amazing to gather together any community of folks in Charleston in one place. There's so much collective energy, it's palpable. It's one of the things I love most about the Holy City. Our speed and sincerity in pulling people together toward a common goal. A good day on King Street, and we can't wait to go to work. Thanks, Mickey.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring, birthdays, post-runway cocktails

We've just wrapped up the design of the Fish Spring/Printemps menu which launches for dinner service tomorrow. Super excited to taste some of the new petite plate additions: baked escargot, tuna tartare and a nam sod spring roll. Nico's also added a braised lamb shank to the large plates that is just incredible. Lots of seasonal, local produce to celebrate the taste of spring, too. Yum!
And, a big Happy Birthday to our friend Andra Watkins of Positus Consulting who's celebrating her big day with tonight at Fish.

And, for you fashionistas, remember that Fish is hosting the Charleston Fashion Week After Party on Thursday starting at 9:30 pm. Because you need a cocktail after ruling the runway. Everyone knows that.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pigs & cafeteria stories

Everyone, this is Dallas Alice. She belongs to the bride and groom who got married at Lowndes Grove this weekend. She told me she had an excellent time and that you should book your next event there, too.

Back from The Mountain, kids and may I say? It was quite the productive and hilarious weekend. Yes, both at once. Fun fact about me: I never went to sleep away camp as a child. However, this weekend, I really feel like I did. The accommodations had exquisite views and were also, um, a bit on the rustic side. Think plywood, bunk beds and toilets you must pump. All part of the experience my friends. All to keep us focused on the task at hand: strategic planning.

The food was really good, which is so important for me as you might imagine. Armed with old-school cafeteria trays, we wound our way through the food choices and sat down together to eat at a long, wooden table.

That cafeteria tray plugged into all sorts of memories for me. I remember being young enough to think the tray was enormous and hard to carry. I remember the first time I was able to reach for my own bowl of pudding at Percy Brown's, a cafeteria-style restaurant in my Grandma's hometown. I even remember using a tray to careen down a snowy hill at breakneck speed when I was in college. I can tell you: a LOT of the food I have had that sat atop a cafeteria tray was really not good: processed, overcooked, what you might expect. But my memories of it are so good. Why? I think it might have something to do with the fine company waiting for my tray and me at so many tables over so many years. (It may also be that I'm mentally blocking scenes from junior high school, but stay with me.) Perhaps it's just plain goodness to gather over food with friends. Perhaps we need this time to sit, talk, laugh, eat and drink with those we love and admire. Perhaps it's good for one's digestion to linger over food, tell a story and break bread. It seems that some of my best moments have come cafeteria-style.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strategic planning, San Francisco, Spring

Getting ready to head out for a strategic planning weekend with folks from AFFA, the Alliance for Full Acceptance. Before I go, couple of things.

Received some very cool company news. A perk, if you will. A show of appreciation, a pay it forward type thing. All PP salaried managers can now volunteer up to 20 hours per year (paid) for our favorite Tri-County 501c3 non-profit. This is cool for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is we get the opportunity to help out here in the Charleston area. Also, when you think of how employers are struggling to reward the employees they have during this economic downturn, I think programs like this are invaluable.

In other news, one of our PP staffers just got a back from a whirlwind trip to San Francisco. Have to share some of her awesome pics and you know, live vicariously through her.

I especially love the vintage sign. Always a sucker for the marketing. And hello, sea lions!

And finally, if you're in the market for a fun blog to peruse, stroll over to Style Court. Interesting art, interior and event designs too.

Just a reminder, Fish's Spring/Printemps menu launches late next week, so stay tuned. Bon weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring at Lowndes Grove

Some days are so brilliant you just have to let them be.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reminiscin,' Bobby Flay, Mercy O'Chef

Memories, like the corners of my mind. Check out what we were up to a year ago today. Yep, on its very first day open, Lowndes Grove hosted Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Peninsula Grill's Bob Carter. It was big fun. We got to two pieces of really delicious cocunut cake, and that's always a bonus.

In Fish news, what's more fun on St. Patrick's Day than a French chef? I honestly don't know. Join us for Mercy O'Chef (Clever, right? I did that just now.) You know the deal: 3 courses, $25, Nico's choice.

P.S. I just finished writing the Spring dessert menu for Fish and I will give you one hint: ICE CREAM SANDWICHES, the likes of which you have never tasted. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Alice Waters: enough said

If you didn't catch Alice Waters on 60 Minutes, feast your eyes. Could she be any more right on?

Watch CBS Videos Online

Thanks to blogger Sara Dobie who spent Friday night with us at Fish and then blogged about her experience. I simply love a near-instant review!

Check out the nifty recap from Nico's cooking demonstration at King Street Kitchen Company the other night. Many thanks to Josh and the whole crew for their support.

In other neighborhood news, James Quinton and the crew at Salon Couture are planning a Cut-A-Thon on Monday, April 13. Cut and blow dry for men is $20/$35 for women and all proceeds go to Crisis Ministries. You must schedule in advance, so call 843.8543.0505 for an appointment.

I think I've mentioned my love for paper and all things print before. You must take a look at this incredible handmade, printable seed paper, suitable for wedding invites, cards, promotions, etc. Yes, it grows!

Friday, March 13, 2009

My birthday dinner and all I got was this flesh wound

True Charleston story. Names have been omitted. Ready?

A PP staffer went out with friends the other night for a birthday celebration at an unnamed establishment at which hibachi is served. The table full of young women was greeted by their hibachi operator, who quickly informed them that he had:

1. Just pierced his own tongue, so his speech would be rather garbled.

2. Was under the influence of some aromatic herb.

(Strikes one and two.)

Hibachi operator begins the flippy flip/smack the skillet/dog and pony show that is his (supposed) talent. Women begin chatting amongst themselves, anticipating both food and entertainment.

Hibachi operator miscalculates a flip. One spatula goes flying through the air, slices through one of the women's full wine glasses (causing it to EXPLODE). Spatula then grazes aforementioned women's arm, giving it a nice slice that begins to bleed. (Um, out?)

Here's the kicker.

Nothing happens.

Hibachi operator does not cease all hibachi activity. He pauses momentarily, goes to find another spatula (to replace the one that both broke a glass and winged a guest) and continues on.

The group of women sits in stunned silence. The wounded woman grabs her napkin and holds it to her BLEEDING ARM for the entirety of the meal. She says, "I'm fine," to her concerned friends.

Eventually, and I mean MUCH later, the hibachi operator asks the wounded woman, "Was there something in your glass?" She says, "Yes, wine." Hibachi operator advises server that there is a need for another glass of wine.

Necessary aside to the story: I think there is a cultural difference here that may need to be pointed out. Perhaps it's customary for a young group of Southern gals to sit in silence after a traumatic hibachi incident, but I can tell you, this Jersey girl would be up in whip if anything remotely like this happened. And I would not stop until the meal had been comped, and I left the establishment. Not a scene per se, but um, ACCOUNTABILITY anyone?

Back to the story.

More unbelievable: the hibachi operator begins creating pornographic scenes with the ingredients on his giant skillet. Seriously?

And, no manager ever appears.

The group of young women eat. And presumably, they all pay for their meals. (Our PP staffer was the first one to pay and leave. The surrealism of the scene finally got the best of her.)

I have to tell you, I was/am flabbergasted by this story. Not that it wouldn't make a fantastic SNL skit, because it would. Will Ferrell with a rising sun headband? Limbs that get lopped off in the Monty Python Holy Grail vernacular? Hilarious.

But not so much in reality.

Come on, people, this is supposed to be hospitality. As in, "an act of generously providing care and kindness to whoever is in need." I will ask you to keep your spatulas to your self in the future, sir.

P.S. If anyone can top this story, please regale me and comment.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Olympique Lyonnais Forever!

Despite Olympique Lyonnais' tragic loss to Barcelona last night, Nico still managed to demonstrate how to make a shrimp spring rolls to a fantastic group of folks at the King Street Kitchen Company. Smiling and cooking through his tears...that's a professional, folks!

Here at PP headquarters, we're currently working on the design of the Spring/Printemps menu for Fish. It sounds phenomenal. We've also been fortunate enough to be part of the taste testing group for the new spring desserts and holy mother of pastry goodness, it is an experience worth remembering, especially over a nice cup of coffee. Deelish.

True story that I mentioned on Twitter this morn: last night as our Director of Events, Director of Human Resources and yours truly began walking through the gate at The William Aiken House, a male passerby asked, in all seriousness, "Is this the CLAY Aiken House?" Um, no, sir, it. is. not.

Nice photo of our pals at EVO Pizza in today's P&C. North Charleston is hoping to keep sidewalk dining alive and well. I vote yes!

In Upper King Street news, it seems that 52.5 Records is going to branch out to beers, books and beats. According to their latest Twitter, "We'll start with a small (50-60) selection of craft beers, available as singles and mixed 6 packs." Personally, I think that's a stroke of genius. Reminds me of when I was in graduate school in D.C., I spent many an afternoon (that turned into an evening) at Kramer Books & Afterwords Cafe.

And finally today, members of the PP team are getting ready to head to a neighborhood gathering at Hall's Chophouse, who's set to open this coming Monday. Congratulations to Team Hall. We wish you lots of luck.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cake for lunch too!

Highlights from yesterday's Wedding Planner Luncheon at the Lowndes Grove River House, as told to me by our fabulous Sales Managers, Jessica Kafer and Charlotte McDowell.

Lowndes Grove General Manager Ashley Gunnin welcoming everyone

Gorgeous potted orchids on each table, generously donated by Lotus Flower

Stacey from Red Letter Events on the news groomsmen gift? TENDERLOIN!

Todd with PDA talked about Contemporary Lighting Designs in a Cost-Conscious Environment

Kate Little talked about the Charleston School of Protocol. (P.S. Sit up straight, please.)

And last but certainly not least, Susie's CAKES! (see above)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cake for breakfast! And more!

Started off the morning with a delicious piece of lemon wedding cake with vanilla fondant and fresh blueberry, ginger buttercream made by our own Goddess of Pastry Susanna Ieronemo. P.S. She also bought me a cup o' coffee from Kudu. I am. Officially spoiled.
The mini wedding cakes weren't just for our gluttonous consumption. Nay, they were dessert for a luncheon meeting of 30 Charleston area wedding planners at the River House at Lowndes Grove. More on that soon.
While I'm talking food, I should also tell you that tomorrow Nico will be doing a cooking demonstration with our neighbors at King Street Kitchen Company. $12 gets you the demo with Nico for his shrimp spring roll, samples of the aforementioned yumminess and beer or wine. Plus, you get to see all of the supercool kitchens. Check out more info here.
Here at PP headquarters, we're currently working on the design of the Spring/Printemps menu for Fish. Lots of South of France and Pan-Asian influences, and, as always, lots of tasty local products.
Finally, wanted to officially congratulate our pals at Blue Ion, Gil Shuler Graphic Design, HOOK and FORMO for their ADDY wins this weekend. It's a real pleasure to know that we live and work in a place where such fine creatives reside.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What we did this weekend

It's officially event season, kids, and here's part of our Lowndes Grove crew, from left: Event Manager Laurel Prasch, Intern Erin Cicccone, Event Manager Sarah McSweeney, Intern Melanie Crowley and Sous Chef Trung Duong, all geared up for the weekend's shindig.

The Empyrean Yacht, upon which Nico prepared hors d'oeuvres for Friday's Food + Wine Festival Schmoozefest, Cocktails & Conversations.

Nico and pals having a relaxing moment harborside.
In other Fish news, our 100 Mile Dinner was a huge hit this weekend. Thanks to all of our local producers who keep us inspired and help serve up such delicious food.

Friday, March 6, 2009

He owes it all to his Popeye socks

Nico and Jodie are currently aboard the luxurious Empyrean Yacht cruising the Charleston waterways with about 25 folks and two writers from Southern Living for the Food + Wine Festival's Cocktails & Conversations. Nico's preparing an array of fantastic hors d'oeuvres to complement the cocktails mixed by Oak's Jason Hamm. And, Nico's also wearing his Popeye socks, which are my favorite. (With Nico's accent his says Popeye like this: POE PIE.) Jodie is being the consummate picture of style and graciousness and extoling the virtues of our fine restaurant to all who will lend an ear. Me? I'm in the PP offices, perched behind The American Theater marquee with the window wide open catching the perfect breeze. Goooo team! Hope to see you this weekend as we continue our 100 Mile Dinner tonight and tomorrow. Enjoy the fine weather and be safe out there!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Unemployment Humor: Act One

It's really inspiring and extra hilarious when people inject humor into life's little disastrous moments. A friend of mine was recently laid off after a long tenure with his company. A close friend and former colleague of his volunteered to write a letter of recommendation for him. The friend sent two versions. This is the hilarious one. (Names have been changed.)

To Whom It May Concern:

I known Abe in a variety of capacities for seven years. Abe was my accomplice in a series of drug deals gone bad and also my cellmate at Jackson State Penetentiary.

Abe is organized, efficient, extremely competent and has an excellent rapport with both inmates and guards. His knife skills are excellent, and his vindictiveness unsurpassed.

In summary, once he is eligble for parole, I highly recommend Abe for any position or endeavor. Abe will be a valuable asset for any organization, especially one involved with illegal narcotics, human trafficking or weapons.

If you have any questions, please do not contact me.

Sincerely yours,

Theo Kojak

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Picture it: Charleston 1951

PP Facilities Foreman Kenneth Priester, AKA one of the kindest men I have met, stopped by our office today and said, "Randall wanted me to show you this." For a moment I was truly perplexed. Kenneth is one of those men who build and/or fix almost anything and has during his tenure with PP done just that. Me on the other hand? Not so handy. (I am earnest in my attempts however.) So, when Kenneth said Randall wanted him to show me something, I was certain he was mistaken. It's like the dude from this old house having something to share with Carrie Bradshaw (leave me with my SJP dream, will ya?) Turns out Kenneth had shared the photo above with Randall and Randall immediately said: "BLOG IT; TWITTER IT!" (Randall drinks the Kool-Aid that IS social media.) The photo was taken by Kenneth's Mom back in 1951 and it's the corner of John and Meeting Streets, as seen from Kenneth's Mom's apartment window. Kenneth promises to share more photos like this (his Mom is doing some cleaning, lucky for us!). Take a look at our fair city. She's always been a pretty lady. Thanks, Kenneth.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Run Bibba Run & The 100 Mile Dinner

Director of Human Resources Elizabeth Kitchin returned to us today after completing a half marathon in Seaside, Florida. Congratulations, Bibba, we are so proud!

Oh and must share what Fish is up to this weekend. First of all, if you're doing Food + Wine Festival things, you may run into Nico and Jodie if you're one of the lucky few (25) to hold tickets to Cocktails & Conversations. Picture it: a sunset cruise. Bartender Jason Hamm of Oak Steakhouse and our own Nico Romo and Jodie Battles aboard the Empyrean yacht for a two- hour cruise hosted by Coastal Yacht Charters and the Charleston Area CVB. Sip Jason's specialty cocktails, nibble Nico's fabulous hors d'oeuvres and schmooze about the trends in Southern hospitality from the Editor Emeritus, John Alex Floyd Jr. and Editor-in-Chief, Eleanor Griffin of Southern Living. Super swank.

And, Thursday through Saturday at Fish, we'll be hosting The 100 Mile Dinner. It's a local experience, kids. Meaning, everything you eat will have traveled less than 100 miles from our fine local producers to your plate. Even more fun, some of our local producers, like Rita Bachmann and Mark Marhefka, will be on-hand to mix and mingle. So, to review, three locally-inspired courses for $35. For $12 more, you'll get some fantastic organic wine pairings. 843.722.3474.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Capturing moments with Tim Zielenbach

Hello, blustery Monday! Well, we didn't get the snow, which is a bit of a bummer. What's more than a snow in Charleston? But March apparently means business and so we're off and running.

On Friday, Sales Manager Jessia Kafer and I met with uber photographer Tim Zielenbach at Kudu, our neighborhood coffee joint. Tim's photography played a huge role in the redesign of the PP website. His background in photojournalism means he is able to weave stories through imagery and the subtle magic of moments. And you know me, I'm a sucker for a great story. As Tim walked us through the gorgeous books of some of his recent work, I was struck by the intimacy of the photographs. It's not easy to run around weddings, chock full of family and friends and tears and laughter and bands and officiants and planners and somehow disappear enough so you can beautifully record what's happening. But that's what makes Tim so good at what he does. He steps in and out of the scene gracefully and tells wonderfully elegant stories about intimate moments. We're grateful to have his work on our site to help tell our story. And, check out some of his work on Kristin Newman's new site too. (It's the opening image.)