Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dealing w/ Leftovers (Summer 2014):

~ A Few Notes for the Summer Season ~
By Rick of The Private Professionals

With the Fourth of July now upon us the summer season is in full swing. Pool parties, summer soirees, & back yard BBQ's abound. Indeed, the party season is heating up, so we have a few notes to help in the process.

First, a quick personal message…    Recent events have given me pause & created a deep desire to recommit to my efforts within The Private Pro's.  As a result, I find myself more engaged & excited for the days ahead. I realize how important your events are to you, so we're highly committed to ensure a level of service that's of the highest standard for the industry.

In that spirit, we've updated our website, completely revised the party planner, expanded our team with top talent, & have recently launched a party blog to archive past newsletters & relevant content (see http://theprivatepros.blogspot.com).
Included in this period of transition, between now & labor day I'll also be changing my email. I can always be reached through Rick@ThePrivateProfessionals.com. But my AOL account will only be occasionally monitored once we pass through the end of summer. 

As to the parties we engage, one question we always run into is what to do with all the leftovers? Of course, some things keep well & make a great bite for the following days. Desserts are always a welcome treat at your next office meeting. But a few other items aren't so obvious. My suggestion is to "repurpose."  What can I say, I hate waste. ;-)

Guests may want to take a doggie bag. It's always appreciated if your staff can take a plate home with them. But there are a few items that do well if you think outside the box.  

Veggie Platter - always a necessary item for any party. but more often it's the one thing that usually provides leftovers.  However, this makes an excellent base for a stir fry in the days to come. Just add some chicken, beef, &/or shrimp, then dress it up w/ a little seasoning or sauce, & you have a quick & easy dinner that will last a couple nights.

Fresh Fruit - obviously fruit needs no embellishment. It's perfect as it is. But what if you have too much & it will soon go bad? I like to chop it up, bag it, then throw it in the freezer. On a hot summer afternoon, blend this w/ some fruit juice & frozen yogurt for a refreshing smoothie. It's also great to use later for a mid-afternoon margarita.

Chicken - left over chicken is almost always dry when you reheat it. So rather than use it as is, just shred it & use it for chicken salad (personally, I love curry chicken salad). This adds back in some moist ingredients & makes a perfect snack for a warm summer day.  

Salmon - just like chicken, left over salmon can be very dry & unappetizing.  However, it's great when used in salmon cakes! People love them & they're very easy to prepare. I'm a big fan of Ina Garten's recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/salmon-cakes-recipe.html

There are a thousand suggestions like this but you get the idea.

Just keep in mind there are a few things that really can't be salvaged. Bread that has been out will be stale by the time you go to bed. It's great to feed the birds, but other than croutons it's not good for much else. Any salad that has been dressed is worthless as well. And all condiments that have been out might be best if disposed of (particularly mayo-based items). This isn't as much of a problem in winter, but for the summer months it's best to stand on the side of caution.
Sodas & Beer - You can go ahead & toss any sodas that have been opened & closed several times (they'll lose their fizz by morning). Also, any beer or sparkling drinks that have been iced will need to be refrigerated. If chilled, then warmed, then chilled again, then almost without question you'll end up w/ flat beer. In line with this, be sure to store any leftover sodas, beer, or wine in a place that has a stable temperature. A garage or laundry room is generally a bad option.


Aside from food, the summer season also lends itself to some pretty fun drinks! For a casual outdoor affair, tropical flair is the name of the day. Margaritas, Mojitos, & rum based drinks are always safe bets. You may also want to consider a sampling of seasonal beers. As for wine, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, & sangria are perfect compliments to a pool side soiree.  

1 shot (4ct) Tequila
½ shot (2ct) Triple Sec
Finish w/ Sours or Margarita Mix & a Squeeze of Lime.

Shake hard or Blend. Serve up or on the rocks.
Garnish w/ lime. Salted rim of glass is optional (always ask).

For an alternative, blend w/ frozen strawberries or mango.

'Lightly' Muddle Fresh Mint in about 2 shots of simple syrup.
Squeeze in 1 Lime Wedge.
Pour 1 ½ shot (6ct) Amber or Light Rum.

Serve over Ice - Finish w/ Seltzer & Stir.
Garnish w/ additional Mint Sprigs if desired.

1 shot (4ct) Rum (Light or Amber, it doesn't matter).
Blend w/ Ice & Frozen Daiquiri Mix (or shake if served up).

From Scratch: finish w/ Sours, Fruit, Squeeze of Lime, & Sugar.
Add ice, blend until smooth, & garnish w/ cut fruit.

½ shot Vodka (preferably Stoli-O).
½ shot Triple Sec (or Liq. 43).
Finish w/ O.J. & Cream.
Shake & serve over ice as a drink. Float Grand Marnier.
Even better if you add Ice Cream & Blend.

Pina Colada:
1 shot (4ct) Rum (preferably something smooth & amber).
1 part Cream of Coconut (preferably Cocoa Lopez).
2 parts Pineapple Juice.

Blend w/ Ice until Smooth. Add a scoop of ice cream to make it awesome. Garnish w/ a cherry & orange, or a wedge of pineapple.


If there's anything we can do to be of assistance then please don't hesitate to call.

In fact, if you're able to give us a quick shout out in any form then it would be deeply appreciated (please pardon the shameless self-promotion!).  J

In the meantime, we hope everyone has a great summer.

Rick D~

Online: www.ThePrivateProfessionals.com

Full Scale Parties

~ Entertaining for Parties Large & Small ~

By Rick of The Private Pro's

It's been far too long since I've done a newsletter. So with the December "Holidaze" soon upon us, I thought it might be a good time to offer a few insights to help make your seasonal entertaining as stress free as possible.

Holiday entertaining usually comes in 2 forms: full scale parties & casual gatherings.

Full Scale Parties:  The cornerstone for a successful event is to keep it organized & have a strong plan of execution. Personally, I can pull together a party for up to 200 people in about 48 hours (ignoring only the invite process which should be initiated about 30 days in advance). Each year I also host 3 full scale events - complete with 6 DJ's, national & local talent, a fashion show, fire performers, GoGo's, plus various enticements throughout the evening. Such events pull up to 700 in attendance, & I do it all in about 6 weeks.

So how do I keep it all organized? The secret is to have a good team & maintain order through the "party sheet" (a basic binder for everything you'll need with a task oriented battle plan to keep it all on track).

As far as your team is concerned, The Private Pro's are going strong & here to serve you. Your job is to be the host, so let us work the party while you entertain your guests. I have a great group of top people & we're here to fulfill your needs whatever they may be.

But how do you then keep initial preparations as stress free as possible? It doesn't matter if you're doing a full scale event or small party, always start w/ the party sheet. This offers a good outline of your vision for the night, then keeps everything organized & on track as things progress. Each section outlines your essential needs:
  1. Action Items / To Do: a concise plan of action for what needs to be done.
  2. The Bar: listing bar stock, mixers, & any specialty drinks.
  3. Buffet: a menu for what will be served, plus any special needs or recipes.
  4. Décor: a basic outline for decorations or costuming if they apply.
  5. Supplies: what basic supplies will you need (plates, cups, etc)?
  6. Key Players: Contact info for those involved - Private Pro's, DJ's, catering, rentals, etc.
  7. Evening Schedule: is there as a schedule for dinner service or entertainment?
  8. Important Notes: are there any important notes for the venue, staff, DJ's, catering, etc?
  9. Promotions / Invites: a full scale event might require a promotional campaign. But even for a private party, these days it's recommended you mail, email, & post an event page to Facebook.
  10. Main Copy (Invitation):  list your dialogue for the invitations, adjusted for online & print.
  11. Guest List: list both who has been invited as well as RSVP's.
  12. Pre-Game Checklist: a quick rundown for the day of the event (this is CRUCIAL).
  13. Payouts/Financials: who will be paid & what is the expected cost.
This simple tactic will help to make you an event planner of professional capability! As the day draws near you'll be organized, confident, & less stressed knowing you're on top of it. Then for the party itself, your job is to be the host. So let your team handle the party while you spend time with loved ones.  

But not all holiday entertaining is a full blown party…

Casual Gatherings:  Keep it stress free & be ready!  With just a few simple tips you can ALWAYS be ready for friends or family should they drop over for a visit.
  1. Keep a Party Shelf - I recommend keeping a cabinet somewhere where you store you basic party supplies. Such elements as serving platters & any needed elements will then be at the ready.
  2. Cocktails - Having a suitable bar on hand is always advised for instant entertaining. Just the basics are required: a decent Vodka, Gin, Rum, Bourbon, Scotch, Tequila, & Triple Sec or Cointreau. If you don't want to go buy a full bar in one shot, then purchasing a bottle here & there will soon give you everything you need. Keep a few mixers on hand (tonic, soda, coke, diet coke, ginger ale, as well as some cranberry & pineapple). All you need then is a bit of wine & beer, & you'll have a fully stocked bar ready at a moment's notice. Just be sure to keep a couple limes in the fridge w/ a bottle of olives & cherries.
  3. Hors D'oeuvres - Pre-packaged frozen appetizers from Cosco or Whole Foods are of very high quality & offer a quick solution to last minute entertaining. Placing a couple cheeses & cured meats on a nice cutting board will allow you have an immediate appetizer while your frozen hors d'oeuvres are in the oven. Shake up a couple drinks & you have an instant party!
  4. Quick Décor - Keep some decorative accents on hand & have at least one or two rooms in the house decorated for the season. This way you'll always have a place to gather should guests drop by. Consult magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens or Martha Stewart for simple but elegant ideas.
  5. Quick Clean - When friends drop by, you don't have to clean the whole house. But a main room can be quickly tidied up by throwing any chaos into closets or cabinets. Dirty dishes can be placed in the dishwasher & dealt with later. Give the main bath a quick wipe, then close the doors to any rooms you'd rather not have guests see.  Now you're ready to receive guests at a moment's notice. 
Introducing a Few New Services:  we still offer the very best in bartending & private party assistance, but we now offer a few other services to further enhance your next affair.
  • Event Planning - For the standard party, the Private Pro's Party Planner should give you everything you need for a successful evening. But for a full scale event, be it private, corporate, a fundraiser, or grand ball - we are able to offer full scale planning on the most professional level.
  • Wine Tasting & Bartending Seminars - Looking for something different?  We also offer special classes for wine tasting or tending bar. All classes are heavily slanted toward private parties & offer something fun & different for a more intimate crowd.
  • On-site Chef Services - We do not offer catering (except through our referral network), but we do offer an on-site chef service for dinner parties, special affairs, & more intimate gatherings.
  • Performance Art - For more lavish affairs, we have an extensive network of fire performers, belly dancers, burlesque performers, bands, go-go, models & DJ's. All are fully insured & offer a professional level of entertainment that is sure to please.

The Private Pro's Party Blog:  I've recently updated our website & 'am working on a Party Blog to archive our previous & ongoing newsletters. Need some tips or ideas for your next event? Can't remember your favorite holiday drink? Then this is a good place to find what you need. Please check back as we'll have this online soon.

And don't forget our City Guide (www.ThePrivateProfessionals.com): offering a full list of various social & professional organizations, all which list a number of great events going on for the holiday season.

If there's anything we can do to be of assistance then please don't hesitate to call. In the meantime, I hope the season finds you happy, healthy, & prosperous in all that you strive to be.  

Offered in loving memory of A.R. Dostal (1923-2013), 
Rest well dad, I love you.

Lessons from Our Own Party

Some Notes for the Spring Season!
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals
So what happens when The Private Professionals throw a party of their own? 
Everyone has a really good time, that's what!  Well, that & you learn a few things... 

After giving it some thought, for Marti Gras this year we decided to throw a bit of a bash all our own. It started out as a small cocktail party for my affiliates, but then one of my guys volunteered the party suite in his building so with such a great space available things started to snowball a bit. Before long I had a full blown party on my hands. I thought it might be beneficial to share a few thoughts & notes from the evening. So without further adieu...

Something to keep in mind, what matters most isn't the chaos that might be going on behind the scenes but rather the impression you make upon your guests.
And even in the midst of what might seem to be an unbelievable challenge, more often than not things can usually be worked out.  Let me explain....

We had booked a party suite back on January 3rd (the party itself was to take place on February 25rd), but due to a total screw up by the property management to which we were engaged the space was double booked for the evening in question. Mind you, I found this out at 10pm on the Friday before the party (which was set for 8:30pm on Saturday)!  Ugh... 

At first we fought w/ the management company but soon realized that our efforts were to no avail & as it stood we were going to lose the space altogether (& thus the party was to be cancelled) - which was NOT an option. Instead, what we ended up doing was to work out a deal w/ the other party adjacent to ours. We agreed to move our event back to 9:30pm if they would assure us that they'd be out by 8:30 (which I knew was cutting it close but it was all we could do given the circumstances). This did present one incredible challenge though as my original plan was for roughly a 2-3 hour set up!  Fortunately, there was a room adjacent to the main party area so we pre-set all the buffet tables & prepped everything there so we could just take the whole thing across the hall in one big swoop (the food & everything I had prepped the night before).

Unfortunately, their party ran late (which is what I was afraid would happen) so we ended up having to set the entire room from A-Z in just 20-minutes. Thank God I had my crew there!  They were awesome & in the end we broke down the other party before us & were able set the entire room in just under a half-hour. I love these guys for a reason - they're the best...

I guess it was a Marti Gras Party after all, so after a bit of initial chaos behind the scenes everything pulled together & as the guests began to arrive things looked seamless.  

The Lesson? Be sure you control your space (because losing your space is the one hurdle you can't overcome; at the very least stay on top of it & assume incompetence will be a factor). Also, prep as much as possible well ahead of time (w/out a solid prep walking through the door I would have NEVER been able to deal w/ all the last minute chaos that ensued on the day of the party. It was only for that & the good work of my team that our guests never missed a beat - this lesson however applies just as well even when things go smoothly as there is never enough time if you put it all off to the last minute).

Something else I found wasn't really a lesson learned but rather a confirmation of something that I've been saying for years. It's sooooo true - Music Drives the Mood & Tempo of the Party!  I wanted a very upbeat tone to things. So I did a series of club mix & party mix CD's (I've got software that lets me edit music, video, & photos so I can burn my own discs. I can even reedit individual songs & save the whole thing to I-pod formats). Anyway, I did enough music to last the whole night & it really did set the tone. Things were anything but casual, the crowd was very upbeat & this led to an overall tone for the rest of the night. As a party favor I also burned a bunch of CD's to set out on a table w/ a note that said "if you enjoyed the music tonight, then please feel free to take a complimentary CD" - I then listed the times that each CD was playing so that people would know what was what.  I've gotten some REALLY good feedback on the music & on the CD's (& I did it all for what was really very little money). If you're interested in the software I use it's called Roxio Media Creator. I highly recommend it.

Something else to keep in mind, if you have a party where you're inviting a number of singles who won't know anyone then ask them to bring a friend or two.  I invited the core group of my own personal friends (the 'old guard'), a few "friends of the family" for The Private Professionals, a few clients for The Writer's Inc. (my other venture, & of course my affiliates. This was a very diverse group & I wanted to be sure that everyone felt comfortable & had a good time. So knowing that there's strength in numbers I said that each should feel free to bring a friend or two. It was interesting, of the people I invited, those who brought a friend or two not only stayed longer & mingled with more people, but they also had a noticeably much better time throughout the evening. Those who came on their own tended to leave early & didn't really mingle with the rest of the crowd. Something to keep in mind...

Also, a few small touches & proper lighting really does make a tremendous impact.  Throwing a string or two of white Christmas lights on the buffet & a few tall candles really does offer a powerful degree of elegance, appeal, & impact. I saw this at a party once & now I'll never do a buffet again unless I can properly light it. Also, candles placed around the party with some munchies & simple finger foods naturally draw people into perfect conversation areas (Sam's & Cosco by the way is GREAT for this kind of stuff).  In general, we turned the lights down really low & essentially lit the whole room w/ candles & white Christmas lights. It was a Marti Gras party, so we also tossed around some party glitter & a few beads. BOOM!  Instant ambiance...  ;-)   Okay, honestly it was amazing how much a few small touches transformed the space.

If you find a room that could really be helped w/ a dimmer switch, then before your next party you should take the $5 & 10 minutes to do so. And keep the white Christmas lights handy, they're good year 'round....

Perhaps most importantly, be sure to save some time to relax & get in "Host Mode."  I had the whole thing planned so that I would be able to get set up & then go over to Starbucks just so I could sit & relax for a while. I have to be honest though, because of the screw up with the space & all the last minute run around I was thrown completely off my game. The party went really well & everyone had a great time, but by the time things were rolling it was just impossible for me to decompress & enjoy myself. It was then that it hit me just how important this critical step was. I ended up "working" the party & at no point was I able to really get into 'host mode' - it's an important step, so be sure you observe it.

Which brings me to my last & perhaps most crucial point...

Above all else, the most crucial lesson to learn is that you shouldn't be working your own party!  You need to prep & you need to run around the day before (& a good bit on the day of the party) to be sure that everything is all set & ready to go. There's a lot to do ahead of time - that's just the nature of the beast. But then as zero hour approaches, you need to remember that you're the HOST, & as the host your real job should be to spend time w/ your guests! People have told me time & time again what a great service we provide (& for the record, we do provide a great service). But now I honestly see the real value of it. If you work your own party then you're worrying about the ice, & drinks, & food; you're focused on taking out the trash & on clearing all the dishes or glassware. What you should be focused on is enjoying your evening & on spending time with your guests! Besides, cleaning up at the end of the night REALLY sucks. You're tired, it's late, & yet you turn around & things look like a bomb just went off.  It's soooo much better when all of this is done for you.

A full service bartender really does add an exceptional level of class & fun to any affair. Having a service assistant just takes all the stress & hassle out of the last minute issues. And having someone there to attend to your party means that you can focus on your guests rather than to be consumed by all the details of the evening. Then at the end of the night you'll be able to just go to bed knowing that everything has been taken care of & that you won't be waking up to such a mess.

So you spend time with your guests & let us take care of the rest!  Believe me, you'll be glad you did. ;-)

We look forward to seeing you for your next affair,


~ A Few Notes for the Fall Season ~
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals

With Halloween soon upon us, the fall party season is now in full swing! Indeed, the Private Pro's have had a truly successful year in spite of the recent economy. This I believe is a testament to the level of service we provide & the quality of the team we offer. No doubt, we're a fun group & not stuffy about the service we provide, but do we take our role very seriously. We understand that when someone throws a party or an organization holds an event, THIS is their moment to shine & a 'huge' deal for the individual concerned. But in the end, it's those we serve that really carry the heart of The Private Pro's & allow us to continue on as we have. So I wanted to take just a brief moment & thank each of our clients & all those who have supported us over the past few years. 

I thank you all…

In this spirit, please check out the website. We've make a couple changes to offer a cool new feature as a value added service. In addition to the quarterly newsletter & list of available resources, we now offer a special City Guide (http://www.theprivateprofessionals.com/11.html): providing a fantastic listing of various social & professional organizations in the area, as well various resources for what's going on - keeping you in the loop & in the know.


Now as chill nights & more temperate afternoons soon turn the landscape into a wonder of explosive color & natural beauty, we enter into a season of festival harvest & traditional celebration. Indeed, it's a perfect time to work hard on the task at hand, yet take a moment to pause & savor the prosperity we thus create.

Besides, how can you not love Halloween!?!   :-)   Since our favorite holiday falls on a Saturday this year, the weekend before & during will be a busy time for all of us. In fact, we're now taking bookings & slots are filling fast. So please let us know if you or any friends may have plans in the works. We don't want to get caught short.

In the meantime, I thought I might send along a few favorite drinks & a couple good ideas to make your affair something special.  

Since your party may collide with so many other events, you'll probably want a bit more flash to be sure you get a top pic on someone's calendar.  Just how far can you go with such an enticement?  Well, clearly a more formal invitation that is mailed always trumps a simple evite. But you may even want to take it one step further as friends Kristen & Michael have done to actually combine the two.

A beautiful invitation was mailed (& carried around to various events in case they ran into someone who hadn't already received the invitation). This then drove people to a website which gave the full rundown & allowed for a simple R.S.V.P. via email. The end result is something fairly spectacular (a sense of expectation that I can assure you party itself lives up to).  Check it out (please note that permission was received to send this along):  http://www.letterk.com/Halloween.html

And of course, the season lends itself to some pretty fun drinks…

Classic Creature Feature - Vodka martini, straight up (olives or twist).

Rocky Horror - it's Pink & it's a Cosmo.  ;-)

1 ¼ shot (5ct) Vodka (preferably Citron).
¼ shot (1ct) Triple Sec.
Finish w/ splash of Sours, splash of Cranberry, & squeeze of lime.

Shake hard & serve up as a Martini (it should be lightly pink not red).

Black Death - it looks evil, but it's as smooth as a cherry bomb - beware!

1 ¼ shot (5ct) BLACK Vodka (it's actually black in color but as smooth as vodka).
¼ shot (1ish ct) Blue Curacao.
Finish w/ splash of Cherry, splash of Cranberry, & squeeze of lime.

Shake hard & serve up as a Martini (I garnish w/ little plastic skeletons crawling out of it).

The Vampire- Pomegranate martini, with real human blood!  Okay, not really…

1 ¼ shot (5ct) Vodka (preferably Citron).
¼ shot (1ct) Triple Sec.
Finish w/ splash of Pomegranate, Cranberry, & squeeze of lime.

Monster Mango Martini - it's a Mango Martini, silly…   :-) 

1 ¼ shot (5ct) Vodka.
¼ shot (1ct) Triple Sec.
Finish w/ splash of Looza Mango, Pineapple, & squeeze of lime.

Shake hard & serve up as a Martini (garnish w/ orange spiral).

Godzilla's Mayhem - sure, it's a Margarita, but it's Radioactive!

Make a standard margarita & drop in a small glowstick to garnish.

Witches Brew - Hot Mulled Cider w/ Capt. Morgan, a classic party favorite!

Note: don't add the rum to the cider until you actually serve a drink. If you add the rum to the mulling cider you'll basically just evaporate away the alcohol.


If there's anything we can do to be of assistance then please don't hesitate to call. In fact, if you're on Twitter, Facebook, or a regional post board & would be willing to give us a quick recommendation & link, it would be deeply appreciated.

In the meantime, we hope everyone has a great fall season.
Don't eat too much candy!


Derby & Preakness...

We've had a good number of requests this year for parties revolving around the Triple Crown. That's not really surprising since so much of Maryland & Virginia's culture is steeped in the tradition of horse country. We are in fact one of the most recognized centers for equestrian & thoroughbred breeding. From the hunt country of North Baltimore to the hunt country of Middle Virginia, the metro area is host to several mainstream events, including such notables as the Gold Cup & Preakness.

At any rate, I thought I'd pass along a few notes regarding the races. Sometime later I plan to forward along my annual report of fun things to do during the spring & summer season (this year we're focusing on festivals & conventions).  I hope you enjoy & I'll look forward to seeing you sometime soon.

Some Fun Notes for the Spring Season!
From Rick of The Private Professionals…

The Triple Crown: 

The Triple Crown wasn't really created as a unified event so much as it basically evolved over time. Initially, three separate tracks each held separate races to test the most promising three-year-olds for their future potential as thoroughbred racers. 

The Belmont Stakes (oldest of the three jewels & the fourth oldest race in North America) was first run in 1867 at Jerome Park in New York. It's named in honor of August Belmont, financier & agent at the time to the Rothschild fortune. He was very influential in New York politics & was an avid proponent of horse racing. 

Later, in 1870, the first Preakness was held to commemorate a sensational dinner party for several well off tycoons. The Pimlico Race Track was built in Baltimore to host it & the first "Dinner Party Stakes" was run on opening day. A horse named Preakness won the inaugural event & hence forth the race was called The Preakness Stakes.

Then, in 1875, the first Kentucky Derby was held at the Louisville Jockey Club (later renamed Churchill Downs). However, it wasn't until 1902 when Colonel Matt Winn took over the club & brought it back from near bankruptcy that it rose to true prominence. Winn was an excellent promoter & was able to attract some of the most distinguished owners in the business. By 1920 he had established the Kentucky Derby as the most recognizable horse race in North America. Today that legacy continues as it garners over 100,000 spectators & millions more through network coverage. But

In 1919, Sir Barton was the first horse in history to win all three races: The Kentucky Derby (held the 1st Saturday in May), The Preakness (on the 3rd Saturday in May), & the Belmont (on the 2nd Saturday in June). It wasn't until the 1930's however that "The Triple Crown" was first coined by sportswriter Charles Hatton to describe the successive victories of Gallant Fox. Since that time, a countless many have tried, but only 11 have actually achieved horse racing's most coveted honor…

1919- Sir Barton
1930- Gallant Fox
1935- Omaha
1937- War Admiral
1941- Whirlaway
1943- Count Fleet
1946- Assault
1948- Citation
1973- Secretariat
1977- Seattle Slew
1978- Affirmed

Given the young age of the horses running, the short recovery time between each race, & the distance that each race carries, this all combines to make the unified event a truly difficult & rare prize to capture. 

But much like the Super Bowl or Indianapolis 500 (& true to its root of really good promotion), what takes place in mere moments carries with it a lead-up of fun & celebration that lasts for weeks. Indeed, the festivities surrounding The Triple Crown holds a depth of tradition, pomp, & downright revelry.  So ladies, break out your most fancy hat; & gentlemen, pour yourself a Mint Julep. Enjoy a grand feast in high style & invite a few of your favorite friends, for The Triple Crown is indeed a rite of spring & a tradition relative to our own region. There's just no better way to really usher in the full bloom of the season & do so with joy & excitement for all! 


A few things to consider for your Derby Party…

The Mint Julep:
The traditional drink of The Kentucky Derby (even if people in Louisville don't really drink it)…
Lightly Muddle powdered sugar & splash of water (or use simple syrup) w/ some mint.
Add Finely Crushed Ice (a must).
Pour 1 ½ shot (6ct) Fine Kentucky Bourbon.
Garnish w/ additional Mint Sprigs & serve w/ a straw.

Derby Pie:  'cause it's not a Derby party w/out Derby Pie…

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. chopped pecans
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
6 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
One 9-inch deep dish pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 350 degrees for 35 minutes more. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

Bourbon Balls:  Of course!  What else?  ;-)  

1 box powdered sugar
1/4 lb. butter, melted (or a teenie bit less)
1/3 cup Bourbon Whiskey
1 cup pecans (whole)
4-5 squares chocolate
2 teaspoons paraffin

Mix sugar, butter and Bourbon together and make into balls. Chill overnight. Dip balls into melted chocolate and paraffin, adding whole pecan to the top of each candy before chocolate sets.

A few things to consider for your Preakness Party…

The Black Eyed Susan:
Named after the filly race held the day before the Preakness (even if most people have never even heard of it).
This can be made as a punch if you're serving numerous guests.

½ shot (2ct) Vodka.
½ shot (2ct) Rum.
½ shot (2ct) Triple Sec.
Finish w/ Pineapple, O.J, & a squeeze of Lime.

Shake & serve over shaved ice.
Alternatively, you can prepare ahead of time as a punch & serve over shaved or crushed ice.

Best Backfin Crab Cakes - By Char Ann Smith…
Note that this recipe placed second in the Coast Day Crab Cookoff (1997).
  • 2 pounds jumbo lump crab meat
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons wet mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons salad dressing
  • Cracker crumbs
Beat eggs. Add parsley flakes, Old Bay seasoning, mustards, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Combine with crab meat and salad dressing. Shape into balls and roll in cracker crumbs. Fry briefly in oil or bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Gertie's Crab Cakes - From John Shields' Chesapeake Bay Crab Cookbook…
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 pound lump or backfin crabmeat, picked over for shells
  • ¼ cup cracker crumbs
In a blender or mixing bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, pepper, Old Bay, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Mix until frothy. Place the crabmeat in a bowl, sprinkle on the cracker crumbs and pour the egg mixture over the top. Gently toss or fold the ingredients together, taking care not to break up the lumps of crabmeat.

Form the cakes by hand or with an ice cream scoop into rounded mounds about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Do not pack the batter too firmly. The cakes should be as loose as possible, yet still hold their shape. Cakes may be sauteed, broiled or deep fried in oil heated to 375 degrees. If deep fried, drain on paper towels. Cooking time is brief, about three minutes on each side or until the cakes are nice and brown. Serves 4.

And of course, for Staffing, Bartenders, Servers, or general Private Party Assistance, The Private Professionals really do offer the very best in the DC Metro area! We're currently taking bookings for Spring & Summer so feel free to give us a call or drop us a line.  You can also check us out online at http://www.ThePrivateProfessionals.com/  

Hope to see you soon,


The Holidays

~ A Few Notes for the Holiday Season ~
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals

I can't believe this holiday season marks our fifth years in operation. Averaging around 240 parties / year, we've learned a lot & continue to progress as the months press forward. Indeed, we not only handle parties for our valued clients but have now moved into hosting events of our own.

This past October we held a 3 day event for just under 700: Friday offered a meet & greet cabaret / club night, Saturday presented a full scale pre-party, & Sunday's gala ball featured national talent, top DJ's, dancers, demo's, entertainment, & a fashion show, in a spectacular location downtown with 3 levels of possibility. A hotel suite then closed it all out with a special VIP after party. In the end, it was trumped as a lavish affair & marquee event for the DC Scene. Next year we'll continue this tradition & will be adding special functions for business networking as well.

Just imagine what we can do for you…  

On other fronts, please note that due to a significant increase in the cost of marketing, as of Thanksgiving we've been forced to raise our rate to $36/hour per person working. We will also maintain our 5 hour minimum on all parties. However, The Private Pro's will continue its tradition of offering a premium service for the area & we remain competitive in the market.

As such, this season I'm sticking w/ our core team & will only be staffing up a small degree for the Holidays (it's imperative to me that I only work with quality partners so this requires that I run with a lean staff of TRUE professionals). Consequently, December is booking fast & I'm currently on the cusp of locking out Saturday December 4th. The 11th & 18th will follow soon behind so I wanted to give our valued clients first option on availability.

Something to keep in mind, the holiday's bring a HUGE rush to everyone's schedule, so your guests will often be deciding between 2-3 of several parties at any given time. It might be a good idea to consider something on a Friday or Sunday vs. the traditional Saturday if you can swing it.

Also, there's a LOT going on during the holiday season beyond private parties. So don't forget to check out our City Guide (http://www.theprivateprofessionals.com/11.html). This provides a fantastic listing of various social & professional organizations in the area, all of which list a number of great events going on for the holiday season. I'll try to compile a full calendar just after Thanksgiving for some of the more interesting events & affairs going on around the area.

Finally, I'd like to offer a few helpful notes to make your holiday parties even more special.

I've discovered how flexible Raspberry Lemonade is as a mixer.  It's AWESOME w/ Ciroc Wild Berry Vodka or Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. It also blends well w/ Malibu for something different.

Another fun thing to play with is Lemonata by San Pellegrino (it's basically a sparkling water lemon drink). This makes a blend w/ either V.S. grade Cognac or Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. Equally well as a nice twist on classic designer martinis.

The classics make for great holiday drinks too - Cosmo's garnished w/ Cranberries & Orange Rind. Apple Martini's make a comeback when garnished w/ a cherry (the green & red elements just look festive). Pomegranate Martini's are always a favorite as well. But hey, it's cold outside so don't forget the hot cider & Capt. Morgan Spiced Rum or Hot cocoa w/ Rumplemintz.

A fun twist is also the Holiday Pain Killer: Pineapple, Coconut, & Orange w/ Rum & Malibu shaken hard served up w' a dash of nutmeg…  Yum!

How about something more festive like Champaign w/ a good splash of Limoncello? Garnish w/ a twist for appearance & appeal.

And on the buffet, nothing sparkles or adds a touch of elegance like a string of white X-mas lights snaking through your favorite dishes. It adds a beautiful glow & touch of festive elegance to any setting. Also, placing small boxes or dishes under the table cloth can add height, depth, & dimension for a more professional look. Toss in some greenery & pinecones for a perfect blend of holiday accent & you've created a beautiful buffet that would perfectly accent your offerings!

Keep in mind that parties with a larger crowd usually translates to limited seating so your best option is for more finger food or items that don't require much work & effort to cut. If you're only offering a dessert buffet then be sure to mention that in your invites. Often people won't eat expecting to grab a bite at your party. 

So if there's anything we can do to be of assistance then please don't hesitate to call. In fact, if you're on Twitter, Facebook, or a regional post board & would be willing to give us a quick recommendation & link then it would be deeply appreciated.

In the meantime, we hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!
Don't eat too much.  ;-)

Rick D~

Monday, June 30, 2014

Oktoberfest & a Bit of Romance

Some Thoughts for the Fall Season…
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals

Well it's that time of the year when summer has past & fall is now upon us. As chill nights & more temperate afternoons soon turn the landscape into a wonder of explosive color & natural beauty, we thus enter into a season of festival harvest & traditional celebration. Indeed, it's a perfect time to work hard on the task at hand, yet take a moment to pause & savor the prosperity we thus create.

So I'd like to look briefly back upon the summer & share with you one of the most romantic moments that my business has ever brought me, to then look upon the landscape of our culture & consider some of the rich traditions that our festival season carries, & finally to look ahead at some fun stuff for the season before us.

First, I just have to share what was probably one of the most romantic things I've ever seen:

I'd like to tell you about Chris & Anna…

They met a few years ago while doing post-graduate work at American University. Their first date was one of those moments when you just knew good stuff was yet to come. It ended in a quaint little park just off campus where they talked for hours on end (unaware that such time had even passed) until eventually they looked up & realized that it was quickly becoming dawn. Now that's chemistry!

Soon thereafter they grew to love each other very much. They both moved to New York, & in time Chris decided that he wanted to ask Anna to marry him.  That's where I came in; for Chris had an idea, & once I heard what he had in mind I just knew that I had a part of it (not my company, me personally).
In respect of her culture's traditions, he had arranged to take his parents down to Texas to meet with her family & ask for her hand in marriage. Being the man that he his, her parents were of course elated. So with such a blessing to back his intentions our plan was then set in motion.

Anna thought that he had been on a fishing trip with his father & knew nothing of his little excursion. But now back in New York, he was taking her down to DC for what she thought would be a weekend spent with some old friends from college.  Instead, she was on her way to experience a moment that she'd remember forever…

Indeed, Chris wanted to do this in style. So he devised a plan to recreate some of the magic that they had felt that night when they'd first met. For that he had contacted The Private Professionals to arrange for "dinner in the park."  And after several emails, a few phone calls, & some logistical positioning on both sides, we finally had worked everything out & were ready to go.

In fact, I have to say that even the Gods were with us that night. At the time, DC was experiencing a long run of really bad rains & we were both very concerned that we might get washed out. But as the day approached, the clouds parted, a beautiful sun dried the grounds, & I swear that even the bugs left us alone that night.  :-)  

The park had 3 baseball fields with each outfield converging into a central position. I set up there, & awaiting the couple would be a full service four-course dinner served on white table cloth with fine china & silver.

In fact, as a funny note aside, while I was setting up there was actually a game for little league being played. All the mothers were sitting there just watching some crazy guy walking back & forth with various articles of this & that. I kind of smiled as it was clear that they were all watching me with this look of "what in the hell is he doing?"  I finally just paused on my way back from a trip & told a couple what was going on. Word spread in a heartbeat & within moments there was an entire little league full of mothers who thought that Chris was the most romantic guy on the planet (& to be honest, after that I kinda felt sorry for their husbands).  ;-)

Anyway, they arrived just as the sun began to set. The table was set with candles already burning & a red rose in a glass swan vase. The sky was brilliant with color & the look on Anna's face was of perfect disbelief.  I greeted our guests as they approached, "Hi Chris, it's nice to finally meet you. And you my dear must be Anna.
 Well my name is Rick, & this is going to be a night you'll never forget…"

A round of cosmopolitans were served with select cheese so that they could both unwind a bit & Anna could just absorb what was going on. That was soon followed with a course of appetizers: chicken satay drizzled in a coconut peanut sauce with caramelized onions & roasted red peppers. An excellent Sauvignon Blanc then accompanied a Baby Caesar Salad served with grilled shrimp & pan seared scallops. The main course featured Filet Mignon with sautéed Vidalia onions & portabella mushroom, all drizzled in a raspberry cab-sauce, & served with a side of grilled asparagus & risotto influenced wild rice. 
After dinner everything was cleared & the table was reset for dessert. Then I just left 'em alone as Chris & I had arranged that this was to be the moment. I just casually stood off to the side for a while (camera in hand) as he began to show Anna the pictures of his trip to Texas. At first you could see it on her face, "what's going on exactly?"  Then he started in with how happy she had made him, how much he loves her, & how he wanted her to be a part of his life forever.

In classic form, he took a ring from his pocket, took a knee, & proposed…

Anna had the most honest look of deep surprise & true adoration that I've ever seen. There was no doubt, from beginning to end he had pulled it off with absolute perfection. Hugs soon followed, & then came the tears!  After all that, you've got to have some tears! And of course, I knew it would end this way…

She Said YES! 

After some pictures, we all toasted the moment with some champagne, & they enjoyed some chocolate mousse cake while family & friends all got a call (it's perhaps the one time that a cell phone at the dinner table is actually a good thing).  No doubt, we made a bit of magic that night & it was beauty defined. I can only say that it was an absolute pleasure to have been a part of it.

Dear Rick, Thank you so much making the night of our engagement something truly magical. Everything was so beautiful & so perfect. We are sincerely grateful for your professionalism, dedication, & passion - for all that went into planning & executing such a perfect evening (not to mention your very cool & fun personality!). You helped ease all anxieties & create a very surreal event comprised of great food, great company, laughter, tears of joy, & a tremendous amount of love. Thank you for making such a special evening one that we'll treasure forever.  
Sincerely, Anna & Chris.


Perhaps it's because I've since met someone who's granted me a bit of my own love in life, but coming from a guy who has an ex-fiancé in his past I can honestly say that my faith in true love has again been restored.  Indeed, a story of love is really what started one of the greatest traditions that the festival season brings - Oktoberfest was actually born of a wedding…

The Story of Oktoberfest & the Tradition of Halloween:

- On October 12th in 1810, Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later crowned as King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony. Traditionally such an event would garner a grand celebration open only to the King's court, nobles, & society's grand elite. But Prince Ludwig wanted his people to share in the celebration, so he opened the grounds before the city gates & provided a grand festival for the whole of Bavaria (this was unheard of at the time, for traditionally nobles & the common people never mingled at such affairs).

Over 40,000 attended the festival, & although the first celebration was not focused particularly on beer, six of the nation's greatest brewers set aside a select Märzen styled ale for the event (the original six included: Paulaner, Hacker, Pschorr, Spaten, Lowenbrau, Hofbrau, & Augustiner). A grand horse race was arranged on the final day of celebration & signaled the close of the official festival.

The following year it was decided to hold the horse race again, & a fair was built around a Bavarian Agricultural Show to boost the state's trade in agriculture. In time the tradition of the horse race was abandoned, but the overall fair evolved into a harvest festival that was soon celebrated throughout all of Germany. Today it is the largest single festival in the world & draws roughly 6 million revelers to Munich each year.

Oktoberfest traditionally starts on the third weekend of September & runs until the first Sunday of October. This year it celebrates its 196th year, a tradition to which only epidemics of cholera & war have given it pause.

Some excellent Oktoberfest Beers to try are: Paulaner (my personal favorite), Spaten, & Ayinger, as well as their domestic counterparts, Sam Adams, Harpoon, & Brooklyn Brewery. You can actually enjoy the Oktoberfest style year round by simply looking for an ale brewed in the traditional Märzen style. 

- the term "Halloween" actually comes from a corruption of the term "All Hallows Eve" which essentially marks the eve of 'All Saints Day' traditionally observed on November 1st (originally, this was a very solemn day used to honor all the saints in heaven). Despite its connection to the Church however, the traditional observance of Halloween actually owes its origin to an ancient festival of the Druids…  

In ancient Celtic tradition, October 31st was celebrated as a holiday called Samhain (pronounced 'sow-en'). This was a day when the harvest season was considered to be at a close & was seen as a time when the year was essentially reconciled (both spiritually & physically). Most ancient cultures saw this time as being associated with death, & it was often believed that the boundary between the physical & spirit world were temporarily blurred. As a result, spirits could for a time blend & intermingle with the living. So on the night of October 31st people would gather in the village dressed in various garb of a ghoulish manner, & they'd parade around making all sorts of noise or mischief to ward off any evil spirits as well as to disorient any regular spirits that might be searching for homes or people to possess.

In time however, the Celtic territories were conquered & controlled by the Romans. But the Romans were quite brilliant in their diplomacy, for they didn't as a rule force dictatorship on the conquered. Rather, they tried to assimilate their culture into the local ways, then they simply maintained political dominance in each region under which they maintained control. As a result, many of the holidays we know today began as predominantly Roman holidays that were merged with local celebrations, & that were eventually blended into entirely new traditions.
Along those same lines, it was sometime later when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity that he followed this same general rule. He wanted to find a way for the people to embrace the new religion. So rather than to decree oppressive laws that could end in conflict & uprising, he looked for ways to meld the beliefs of the Christian faith into the lifestyles of the masses (this is how the tradition of Christmas essentially got started). Many of the early popes followed in his wisdom, so it was later decided that All Saints Day should be held on November 1st, thus following on the heels of the October celebration already in place.  

Actually, it was in a similar fashion that such Christian influence came across the Atlantic with Spanish conquerors. Such traditions were blended with Aztec customs to create The Day of the Dead (celebrated widely in Mexico & Mexico City to this day).  The custom of Halloween however was brought to America during the 1840's by Irish immigrants displaced by the great potato famine.

From this however, the tradition of trick-or-treating seems to have come from a custom of the All Souls' Day parades in old England. It was believed that the dead would often live for a time in a state of limbo upon the earth. Prayer it was believed could expedite one's passage into heaven. So traditionally the poor would go door to door & beg for food during the festival, & in return for a promise to pray for the family's recently departed they would be given a pastry called a 'soul cake'.
Ultimately though, as the mysticism & more religious aspects of the holiday eventually waned, the festival atmosphere continued to persevere. Eventually, American capitalism began to seize upon the opportunity & it soon developed into a celebration focused more on simple fun & frolic. Today it is the highest grossing holiday for most retailers second only to Christmas.