This month I am so excited to invite our Director of Catering, Mike Warren, to interview the incredibly talented and fabulous Baz Luhrmann, who directed this season’s blockbuster hit The Great Gatsby. Mike worked tirelessly for weeks to create the speakeasy after-party with Warner Brothers and Samantha Sackler Productions, which took place in the gilded, turn of the century, Grand Ballroom. Read further to find out about Baz’s socks.
1) Where were you born?
2) Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get it from the desire to live an adventurous life.
3) What made you want to direct The Great Gatsby?
I heard it on the train going through Siberia as an audiobook ten years ago and realized there was a different film version to be made.
4) Was Leonardo DiCaprio always your number one choice for Jay Gatsby?
Always. There was no list.
5) Why do you think F. Scott and Zelda loved the Plaza?
What’s not to love?
6) Why do you love the Plaza?
Because of its history. It is glamorous, yes, but just a bit of outrage as well.
7) Tell us what you loved about the post-party bash in the Ballroom?
Those things nearly never work. And people hardly ever have a good time. But when Florence and Jay-Z are dancing together you know something is right.
8) What do you do for fun when you are not working?
I am never not working so I try and find fun when I am working.
9) Why don’t you wear socks?
Because I’ve got the ankles for it.
10) If you could have dinner with three people tonight, who would they be?
Catherine Martin, Lillian Luhrmann, William Luhrmann
11) What is your favorite place to travel to?
Asia. With Russia a close second.
12) If you come back in another life, who do you want to be?
Myself, with hindsight and wisdom.
THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED
A year and a half ago when I met Julie and her family I knew that it was good to be a Gurland! Then when I met her fiancé Brad and his family and I quickly realized that this wedding was not only about two people creating one life together but this was about the coming together of two fantastic families! Julie and Brad both come from extremely loving and devoted families and each of their parents has certainly set a fantastic example of what marriage should look like. Julie is 1 of 4 children and Brad is 1 of 3 children and you can tell just how close they are to their families when they are all together. Julie & Brad’s wedding was one of those parties that anyone would have had a fantastic time attending. They wanted to create a very elegant yet relaxed atmosphere where their guests could get dressed up, eat a fantastic meal but really ultimately enjoy the energy of the dance party!
Julie and Brad met while attending college at Lehigh and were close friends throughout college. Post- College while Brad was living in NJ and Julie was living in NYC and they stayed in touch and started dating long distance and eventually Brad moved to NYC and the rest is history. In Julie’s words, “We decided we wanted a New York City wedding very early on in our planning process. We now live in New York and just wanted a classic city wedding. My dad mentioned looking at The Plaza (my parents stayed there the night of their wedding) and from that moment I had my mindset on it. The Plaza was the first place we looked and after that, all of the other venues we looked at just didn’t compare! I couldn’t stop thinking about the Grand Ballroom and the Terrace room. Everything was so detailed and beautiful and exactly what we had in mind. It was classic and amazing, a true New York City wedding. We met the CPS Events team and fell in love with them. Their spunk and enthusiasm for everything made us so excited, and they explained everything with such ease and comfort and made us feel so calm about the entire wedding planning process.” The big day arrived quickly and before we knew it, guests were arriving at the ceremony! Julie and Brad’s processional consisted of very close friends and family, and as an ode to Jerry Garcia, they walked down the aisle to “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead. In order to be a Gurland, you must share a serious love for the Grateful Dead. Their love is shown by the fact that each of Julie’s siblings all shares the initials, “JG”, showing their affection towards the talented singer/songwriter. Brad’s family was quick to learn this as well and all of the guests expected nothing less than for “Ripple” to be a part of their wedding day!
After the ceremony guests moved into cocktail hour, where there was a surprise for Brad and his family. The Nelson’s are deeply rooted in Philadelphia and share a strong love for the Phillies baseball team. Julie not only wanted to show Brad how deep her feelings were for him but also for the Phillies and so a Phillies Station complete with Philly Cheese Steaks, Hot Dogs, Peanuts, and Cracker Jacks welcomed guests to the party! This was also a complete surprise to Julie’s oldest brother Justin, who is a true Yankees fan, but this day belonged to the new Mr. & Mrs. Nelson. The fabulous Harris Lane & his Band opened the Grand Ballroom with a burst of energy that didn’t stop throughout the evening. Harris even got into the “JG” mania and wore a Grateful Dead tie and he, too, learned quickly how to be a Gurland!
Guests dined on a Summer Vegetable Salad, Pumpernickel Crusted Salmon, Grilled Prime Beef Entrecote, Espresso Chocolate Valrhona Torte, and cake by the legendary Ron Ben-Israel. Dinner service moved quickly in order to keep those guests on the Dance Floor. Julie danced with her father, Brad dance with his mother, both to classic rock songs, and even Julie’s parents Dr. & Mrs. Gurland got into the action with a classic ballroom dance of their own to “Into the Mystic”, and then invited guests to join them to “Old Time Rock & Roll”. Harris played for an extra hour because the dance party was just that hot. He closed out the night with, who else, but the Grateful Dead! He played “Casey Jones” and Brad and Dr. Gurland just felt the need to get up on the stage with Harris and sing along with the Band. Pretty soon the rest of the Gurland’s and the Nelson’s were all singing “Truckin” on stage too! What a way to send Julie & Brad off into their new life together!
Julie told me later that, “The entire staff made our wedding weekend flawless. They were there when you needed them at any point during the weekend. We didn’t have to think about a thing. The energy in the room that night was amazing and the love and warmth we felt is something we will always remember. The Plaza now holds a very special place in our hearts. It is a weekend we will surely never forget!” The music definitely doesn’t stop here!