November 16, 2011 -
Q+A with Our Executive Event Planner, Jess Andjeski
Event Planning wasn’t exactly something Jess was, well, planning. Once she received her degree, she took some time to find her groove, content as a bartender and with no rush to climb a corporate ladder somewhere. (If you’ve met Jess, you know that she’s the kind of person you’d want to spill your guts to over beers at the bar.) It wasn’t until she was introduced to Chef Ben Bebenroth through a mutual friend that her passion for throwing unparalleled parties was revealed. For the past four years, she’s been a major force in executing the Spice of Life Plated Landscapes dinners. But that’s not all – she does weddings, benefits, even intimate dinner events, and she takes each one on with a mindfully creative and sustainably focused approach to make it memorable for everyone involved.
Read on for a charming interview with little miss party-planner herself, Jess Andjeski.
Q. What’s on the Spice agenda with the holidays coming up?
A. Our December calendar looks amazing. We have so many wonderful repeat clients that are so invested in our philosophy. They keep us booked all year long.
Q. When you’re getting ready for a big event, what factors are involved? What makes for a great party?
A. From a logistical standpoint, we want to have a vision of what the clients want, so we’ll take them on walk-throughs and nail down a timeline. We’ll help them decide on a venue if they haven’t found one already and figure out the vibe they’re going for. The design and feel of an event are crucial, and Ben has a knack for that. And then of course, there’s the menu planning. We always want to ensure that the food pops in a way that people aren’t expecting. Regardless of the venue, Spice really ups the ante to make sure the setting draws people in through preparing and presenting the food in a really special way. We want it to be a once in a lifetime experience for every guest.
Q: What’s it like working on the bridal-side of the business? Have you ever had an extremely unique request?
A: Luckily, we get to work with a lot of brides and grooms who share our philosophy and values. These clients have such creative ideas and expanded palettes and are so much fun to work with. The first summer I was working for Spice, we catered a medieval-themed wedding at Happy Days Lodge. The bride requested rose petal cookies! Apparently those were big back in those days. Who knew?
Q: Is winter a busy season for event planning, weddings and otherwise? How do you do it all?
A: This is the busiest time of year for wedding planning, and also our upcoming benefits. We do around three benefits annually for different non-profits, museums, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We have another event planner now working for us, Amelia, who is a godsend! I’ve found that compartmentalizing is key when planning out these events so far in advance. When you think about the bigger picture it can be extremely daunting, but taking it one day at a time has made it so much easier and fun.
Q: What’s a typical day like working at Spice?
A: Insane, really intense and crazy, but really fun and exciting. I’ve dubbed Spice Headquarters the “Beehive” because there are so many levels and workspaces and we all buzz around like little worker bees. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure. We’re all just completely caught up in the excitement and the bustle of planning and what’s to come.
Q: What do you envision for Spice Headquarters?
A: A really warm and inviting space where people can come to work or play and feel comfortable, but a place that’s also educational. We really want to embrace the neighborhood and the people and culture. We’ve done things a little backwards, starting as a catering company, and then opening a restaurant, but it’s all for the better. I can’t say enough great things about expanding our Spice family and growing the passion for the products and the service we put out.