Master of Fete

With 754 weddings under her belt, Debbie Weeks could be called Point Clear’s very own dream weaver. The internationally recognized event planner recently was the visionary behind Jubilee Jam: A Grand Affair. The fundraiser drew a crowd of 450 happy guests, who noshed on bite-sized Kobe beef foie gras burgers and tuna tartar cones.

Well in advance, Weeks and Jubilee Jam organizers chose a variety of such palate-pleasing nibbles to showcase the Grand Hotel’s innovative catering menu. “Big cheese boards are out and minis such as tasters, martinis and cones are in, ” she says. Executive chef Mike Wallace, banquet chef Gerald Lawson and staff assembled tiny pots filled with wild Alabama shrimp and grits, oven roasted tomato and vodka tasters, West Indies salad savory martinis with cucumber linguine and petite pizzas.

Because the party was poolside and glass prohibited, chefs preordered novel plasticware, including Lilliputian-sized taster glasses.

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ABOVE “There are only so many things under your control, ” Weeks says. “You just have to roll with it.” For Jubilee Jam, she strategically displayed bouquets of exotic flowers and foliage behind the bar to camouflage the unfinished wall sconces. Florist Hank Sierke combined lobster claw heliconia, red ginger, assorted varieties of anthurium, curly willow, date palm and giant monstera leaves in tall crystal containers to create a colorful, modern look.

Besides a creative menu, the key to any successful party, says Weeks, is good organization. “You have to have lists. You have to have charts. You have to diagram where to put the bars and tables, and plan the lighting and traffic flow. It takes lots of meetings, ” she says.

On the other hand, “there are only so many things under your control, ” Weeks says. “You just have to roll with what comes your way.”

Jubilee Jam, for example, was the inaugural event at Lakewood Club, a center for residents of The Colony, the Grand Hotel’s condominium collection. Weeks pulled together the party while painters were still touching up the clubhouse walls. Flowers camouflaged the unfinished wall sconces. The day of the event, silent auction tables and poolside banquet stations were in place hours before guests arrived. When a late afternoon rain shower soaked the outside linens, and a hundred extra people bought tickets at the door, Weeks took it all in stride. “Change is the only thing that’s constant, ” she says. “Sometimes you have to back up and punt!”

ABOVE Have one of each! Pastry chef John Jackson created Grand mini desserts for the occasion. Tiny strawberry parfaits, red velvet cake, white chocolate Godiva tasters, bite-size pecan pie, chocolate flourless cake with berries and New York-style cheesecake tempted guests.

ABOVE The West Indies crab salad savory martini with cucumber linguine is a favorite on the Grand’s catering menu. Chefs assembled hundreds of the diminutive martinis to feed hungry guests.

ABOVE Guests peruse the silent auction items inside Lakewood Club before enjoying the delicious food outside by the pool.

Text by Cori Yonge • Photos by Tad Denson

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