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“With 24 new members joining in January alone, and 50% of projected membership revenue for the year already met, 2011 is off to a great start,” Riyad Said, Georgetown Business Association (GBA) treasurer told The Georgetown Dish.
At their second networking event of the year, a lively crowd of 120 enjoyed cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres of steak tartare and crispy egg rolls, a buffet of shrimp and pasta salads, and Portabello fries, all compliments of Sequoia. Stunning tree-lit views of Washington Harbour on the Potomac, also compliments of the restaurant.
“It was a day that started with a board meeting and new committees formed,” Vice President, Rokas Beresniovas explained. Enthusiastic about the evening’s turnout, and upswing in membership, Rokas continued. “Last year in February, the crowd was less than a third this size. Now we’re having people join as they come to these events.”
Many familiar Georgetown leaders and business owners mingled with new members and friends. City Tavern Club President Richard Meyer and wife Sharon met newest GBA member, interior decorator Barbara Meyer (no relation) of B Design Group. Citizens Association Georgetown President Jennifer Altemus chatted with Janine Schoonover about new business trends with GBA President Joe Giannino.
Marilyn Thompson, Amanda Mayes and Sue Hamilton greeted guests at the door with help from writer, Ben Herring. Ken Robinson, Charles County Commissioner (and Georgetown resident and business owner) chatted with fashion designer and GBA board member, Beth Webster, along with Hope Solomon and Linda Greenan.
For Marilyn Salenger, President of Strategic Communications Services, this was her second GBA networking event. “I was so impressed with last month’s meeting at The George Town Club,” she said. “There’s nothing that compares in New York in terms of scalability, and the intimate nature of this special Georgetown community.”
Christian Videla of TD Bank mentioned (proudly) that the next GBA monthly networking event, on March 16 will be at "his place," TD Bank on Wisconsin Avenue.
Egypt's ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry has had a big job this week translating official messages from a government that seems to be evolving by the hour. Not long ago, the Ambassador and his wife Suzy Shoukry attended a Georgetown fundraiser on behalf of Sasha Bruce Youthworks, a December benefit at Halcyon House featuring rock-jazz pianist sensation ELEW. A revolution ... for the music world, that is. And surely an unforgettable evening of talent and spirit covered in The Georgetown Dish.
I remembered that much calmer evening when I heard the dulcet tones of Ambassador Shoukry's familiar voice on CNN and NBC translating President Mubarek's quasi resignation speech that presaged his final exit as Egypt's president today.
Now that's a revolution!
As over 60 Newseum members and guests enjoyed wine and panoramic views of the city, Pam Galloway-Tabb, Senior Vice President of conferences and special services told The Georgetown Dish, “We're very excited to have him here. For some time, we’ve been wanting Wolfgang Puck to do this conversation and cooking demonstration.”
"It’s been a great week,” began Charles Overby, Chairman and CEO of the Newseum. “When the President asked the First Lady where she wanted to go for her birthday Monday, she said The Source. (pause) And luckily they were able to get reservations." Also during the week: Eisenhower family members, a Supreme Court Justice, and a special celebration for the Chinese New Year were equally lucky.
“When we were coming up for an idea for a Newseum restaurant, and knowing we had to tear down the existing building, Wolfgang Puck expressed interest. The idea of having a restaurant of Wolfgang Puck ... Such a good fit," Overby said.
Puck agreed. “We’re very happy to be here at the Newseum.” The world-class chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality regaled the crowd with tales of his culinary career.
“I’m from Austria … we all speak like this in California.” After recovering from his first restaurant apprenticeship firing (“You’re good for nothing … go home.”) Puck went on to Les Baux-de-Provence and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. In the U.S., after briefly living in New York and Indianapolis, where he learned “to cook a lot of well-done steaks” and got his green card. “I was the only one in line," he said, becoming the executive chef at the esteemed Ma Maison in Los Angeles before opening the first of many flagship Spago restaurants.
“Every week Johnny Carson would buy 10-12 pizzas and freeze them at home. Maybe I should try that,” Puck said. And when he did, “it was surprisingly good, so I started a frozen pizza company.”
During a Q & A session, Puck on why he loves D.C.: “Great access to great ingredients and all the lobbyists have to go out to eat.” His secret: “We try to buy the very best ingredients and try not to f#@k them up.”
From Chinois, his Asian-fusion Las Vegas restaurant, Puck tapped Scott Drewno as executive chef for The Source by Wolfgang Puck. Chef Scott was recently named 2010 DC Chef of the Year at the 28th annual Rammy Awards.
As he held up a lobster, Chef Scott and his Sous Chef Wolfgang began to demonstrate the preparation of lobster egg drop soup with lobster and shrimp wontons. Start with “the trilogy of Chinese cuisine: ginger, garlic, scallions … and lemon grass. And add any dry white wine like Pinot Grigio, to balance the acidity." Served in espresso cups, there were samples for all.
What followed was a sumptuous buffet feast of striped bass, lamb pastrami, Peking duck, pork pot stickers, maki & nigiri, a selection of signature pizzas, poached pear Roquefort salad, Chinois style salad, braised short ribs, rabbit roulades, cheesecake cones, linzer diamonds, and Wolfgang Puck’s Sacher Torte.
After lunch, Puck graciously spoke with admirers and signed copies of his 2008 cookbook, “Wolfgang Puck Makes it Easy."