ML - Michigan Avenue

2013 - Issue 8 - December

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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Page 57 of 147

VIEW FROM THE TOP Individuality and attention to detail are the hallmarks of George Jewell's events. 56 CROWNING JEWELL The party maestro reveals how he caters to himself. *chicago loves "I enjoy walking the lake if I have time, and the Joffrey Ballet is the love of my life." *change of scenery "I adore travel. I like to meet people in foreign lands. I have an apartment in Rio for a month in February, and then I'll go to Argentina. I'm going to get myself a pair of chaps and ride a horse." *discerning tastes "I like my hankies and sheets starched. You only starch the edges of hankies and not the center where you blow your nose. I'm a bit fussy, and I enjoy the niceties of life, but I don't want to think I'm a snob." *suiting up "I buy shirts by the dozen from a good store in London on Jermyn Street. I'm leaning toward doublebreasted suits for next year." *embracing etiquette "I think when I retire I'll be a guidance counselor to good living. I want to tell a youngster why he can't wear white socks with black trousers. Let them know that a T-shirt is underwear. Show them how to tie a bow tie." PHOTOGRAPHY BY E3 PHOTOGRAPHY (ROOKERY) continued from page 55 terribly excited. She thanked everyone before it started. One doesn't always need great gratuities if you can get a charming thank-you." The company's origins weren't quite so grand, starting in the back of a florist shop on Belmont Avenue in Lakeview. For his first event, Jewell prepared and hand-delivered a single tray of hors d'oeuvres. "It's easy to inherit, but it's hard to start your own business," he says of those early entrepreneurial days. Today, the company occupies 40,000 square feet and manages more than 400 employees. In 2011, Jewell was inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame, cementing his role as the king of catering. As an expert on large-scale events, Jewell will be busier than ever this holiday season creating elegant European-themed private parties and planning for grand galas in early 2014. And while his clients' expectations are high, Jewell's personal standards are even more exacting. "Being a good caterer does demand a good face. You can't let the client down. You've got to always rise to the occasion." He also knows the value of discretion from working with boldface names. "A good caterer is very private, and will maintain the confidence of his clients." Jewell almost chose another career path, studying hotel management at Acton University and Oxford; and though he completed a prestigious apprenticeship program at Brown's Hotel in London, he found his true passion in catering. "I gravitated toward the excitement of creating whatever you want," says Jewell. "There are all sorts of parties one can think up. I came from a very formal education in the hotel industry, but with that education you can be variable. An artist learns to design a body and then has the freedom of his mind to do whatever he wishes." Creativity flourishes at Jewell's company, where flawless execution is matched by inventive personality. He delights in the unexpected, from filling the space underneath tables with balloons to serving soup in trash cans at a recent warehouse-chic soirée for the Museum of Contemporary Art where guests entered through the back and clocked in like a factory. For Jewel, embracing the unexpected is part of the fun. He insists, "If you know your crowd, you can push boundaries." When it comes to holiday entertaining, Jewell offers words of wisdom gleaned from years of gatherings and galas. First and foremost is, of course, choosing the right caterer. He recommends conducting your own interviews to determine the perfect match, instead of relying on referrals. "Part of catering is enhancing people's feelings about their home and how they entertain. Everyone wants to know what's new, but they have to be careful about being led into things that don't work for them," he cautions. For dinner parties, Jewell credits Downton Abbey for steering new culinary trends. A Jewell-catered "What's old is new again. Roast goose with an apple cranberry brandy sauce and a leek event at Chicago's and onion bread sauce is going to be the new entrée this winter season." He recommends iconic Rookery. mulled wines, ciders, and mugs of soup to warm guests during a chilly season, complemented by mix-and-match silverware. "Don't be worried about enough dishes. Even Buckingham palace doesn't have enough for 400 guests. Grandma's silverware is in vogue. Be glad it's silver and not tin." Whether it's a party for 4,000 guests in Grant Park or an exclusive celebration at a private home, Jewell continually strives for perfection and panache. He's witnessed his share of party disasters, from power shortages to collapsed wedding cakes, but always finds a way to save the day. And as a veteran who helped define the landscape of entertaining in Chicago, he knows the power of perception. "I never look on the sad side," he attests. "My glass is always half full." MA MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM 055-056_MA_SP_VFT_Winter2014.indd 56 11/20/13 2:18 PM

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