Meet The Directors Of Catering
By Julie Unger
Weddings call for special attention to the details — those little things that make or break an event and keep guests talking for years to come.
Some of the most exclusive, but not elusive, venues in the area have amazing teams that help put these events together at their gorgeous locations. A crucial member of these teams, the director of catering, quite literally caters to the needs of the client while also ensuring delicious food in a spectacular atmosphere.
Three of the beautiful locations we visited recently changed ownership and, with that change, have seen renovations and updates to make them better than ever.
At the Wanderers Club, we checked in with Whitney Garcia, who works to make each event unique. At the International Polo Club Palm Beach, Nelson Tamargo applies a multicultural approach to catering. At the new Wellington National Golf Club, Aaron Menitoff creates a dazzling delight for the eyes that is an experience in and of itself, as well as delicious, creative food. At Breakers West, Trinity Clark enjoys guiding brides and grooms through an affordable, yet still luxurious, version of the best of what the Breakers Palm Beach has to offer.
Each of these venues has an attentive, detail-oriented staff that is passionate about making your day something special, with laughter, joy and memories to last a lifetime. Join us as we meet the directors of catering behind these special locations and learn what makes each place outstanding.
The Wanderers Club
At the Wanderers Club, Whitney Garcia serves as your guide through weddings and other special events.
“I have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management with a concentration in conventions and special events from East Carolina University,” Garcia said. “I began my career with a private event planning company in North Carolina, working mainly with brides on all aspects of their wedding. After relocating to Florida, I broadened my expertise by handling corporate events at the PGA National Resort & Spa. I quickly missed the social and wedding aspect of event planning and made the change to country clubs.”
Garcia began her catering career by working with restaurants throughout college, which led to becoming a banquet server at a private country club in North Carolina, where she fell in love with weddings.
“I then worked for a private event planning company, learning every aspect of weddings, and there was no going back,” she said.
Garcia joined the team at the Wanderers Club three years ago, working to create dream events for members and nonmembers alike. She orchestrates special events at the Wanderers Club with its multiple dining experiences, golfing opportunities, an Olympic-size pool, and even the option for fireworks and ice sculptures.
At the Wanderers Club, Garcia has the opportunity to take part in the ever-changing, fast-paced wedding environment, and see couples enjoy the big day they worked long and hard to plan.
“I have the opportunity to first meet the couple and their families and show off our beautiful clubhouse,” Garcia said. “I then work closely with the bride to either fully understand her vision or help to create it. From there, I work with our executive chef and food and beverage director to bring their dream wedding to life.”
The catering services available at the Wanderers Club is extremely unique.
“From the stunning new ballroom to the phenomenal talents of our executive chef, to our personalized service, the Wanderers Club is unparalleled,” Garcia said. “We strive to ensure that each wedding is exactly what the couple wants and not a ‘cookie-cutter’ wedding. Our newly renovated ballroom is the perfect blend of elegant and rustic, allowing brides to play on either style. Every culinary experience at the Wanderers Club is created custom, due to the creativity and flexibility of our culinary team. Each wedding is unique to the bride’s taste, style and culinary preference.”
To learn more about booking an event at the Wanderers Club, located at 1900 Aero Club Drive in Wellington, call Garcia at (561) 795-3501 or visit www.wanderersclubwellington.com.
International Polo Club
At the International Polo Club Palm Beach, Nelson Tamargo will guide you through your special occasion.
“I have previously been a director of catering for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and in addition, I have been both a director of outlets for Sheraton and Luxury Collection properties,” he said. “In a nutshell, if food or beverage was involved, my hand was in it. I have also been a corporate trainer for the Le Méridien hotel brand of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts family.
Tamargo has worked in virtually every position possible in the restaurant and catering business, making him the ideal director of catering/food and beverage at IPC.
“I have the knowhow to share with the team, and sometimes directly myself, to make sure all who come to IPC have a memorable and meaningful visit,” he said.
Tamargo was born in Cuba to Spanish parents, and food was an important part of their lives. A career in catering came naturally to Tamargo, whose father was a chef and set the tone for Tamargo’s future.
“We traveled between Florida and Lake Placid as a child, winter in Florida and summer in Lake Placid,” he recalled. “I started working in the restaurants in Lake Placid when we were there, and the rest is history.”
Tamargo utilizes his unique skills to work with his team and create consistently elegant events for clients.
“I am honored to have the unique responsibility to be able to speak to a client from the very first inquiry on the phone, and carry that client’s vision to reality, evident in the production of a calculated, unique and elegant event each and every time,” he said.
When planning an event, such as a wedding, IPC’s 250 acres of polo fields, barns, paddocks, lakes, the private member club and large event space are sure to provide the perfect backdrop.
“IPC is a modern-day facility that believes in and knows its roots, polo, the sport of kings,” he said. “The rustic (barns and horses) and elegant (floppy hats and designer dresses) dichotomy that is polo, gives us a venue that can accommodate any style of event, from the most traditional of Argentine asados, to a high-level government affair or A-lister’s wedding. IPC has a sort of rustic charm, never overstated, never under.”
To learn more about booking an event at the International Polo Club, located at 3667 120th Avenue South in Wellington, call Tamargo at (561) 282-5343 or visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.
Wellington National Golf Club
At the new Wellington National Golf Club, Aaron Menitoff makes the impossible possible.
Menitoff, of Wellington Hospitality Group, studied at the University of Michigan. He double-majored in psychology and communications while working at restaurants to pay his way through school before attending graduate school in New York City, continuing to work in restaurants before attending the Florida Culinary Institute.
Menitoff continued in the restaurant business before opening up a gourmet catering company with concessions at local horse shows. He also did catering at the Winter Equestrian Festival prior to being recruited by the International Polo Club Palm Beach, where for 10 years he provided catering for special events, and led the Sunday brunch program.
“I recently joined Wellington National to open up the hospitality program here for the wine bar that we’re opening; the Champion’s Bistro, which is a full-service restaurant; and the banquet facility, which is the largest one in the western communities,” he said.
Additionally, Menitoff’s catering business works out of nine different Palm Beach County venues.
At Wellington National, Menitoff and his team bring their passion to your party.
Being the director of catering means taking care of guests’ needs, making their visions reality, keeping within their budget and creating a seamless event with as little stress as possible, Menitoff explained. “One of the end goals is to exceed their expectations and their guests’ expectations, where the host feels proud that their vision has been realized,” he said.
Part of what makes this possible is Menitoff’s seasoned team.
“We have extensive experience in everything from intimate dinner parties to massive large-scale event productions involving everything from valet, security, tenting, portable restrooms, mobile kitchens, food service, staffing and ticketing,” he said. “We have a well-trained team that can pull off literally any scale of event seamlessly, coming in at budget.”
Menitoff has a unique approach to the director of catering position.
“One of the things that we really believe is that people eat with their eyes first,” he said. “One of the cornerstones of our business has been that we want people, when they walk into any event, or see a food station for the first time, or a table scape, that they’re impressed by that. It’s almost a conversation piece, it’s something that’s almost to the level of entertainment itself. We’re going to add to that by adding food to it. So, it’s almost enough to have all of that without the food. Adding the food is like the icing on the cake.”
The Wellington National Golf Club is located at 400 Binks Forest Drive in Wellington. To learn more about booking an event with Menitoff, call (561) 792-9292.
At Breakers West, Trinity Clark approaches each wedding or special event as though it’s her own. Breakers West is owned by the Breakers Palm Beach, which provides a great deal of support.
“You have the ability to be creative, which I think is my favorite part of having the job here; actually having the flexibility to customize menus, really get to know the bride and groom, and really be able to bring their personalities out for their special day,” said Clark, who has been with the company for eight years.
She started as a psychology major at Florida State University before switching to an event management degree. As an intern at SunFest, Clark learned more about planning events, worked at the Breakers, worked with a wedding planner, and has been able to utilize her detail-oriented personality and creativity to help others make their day special.
“It’s nice to make people happy, because we’re in the service industry of hospitality,” Clark said. “It’s really, really rewarding when you can actually bring their ideas to life.”
Breakers West, a popular area country club, recently underwent some renovations. Marble floors were installed, and other changes were made, making Breakers West brighter and lighter.
Throughout the entire wedding process, Clark and her assistant are the coordinators, effectively eliminating the need for a wedding planner. They are the individuals receiving inquiries, setting up meetings and working with the brides to plan their fairytale wedding experience.
“The person who promised you the dream is actually the person here that day delivering it,” she said.
Working with clients, Clark said, makes them feel more comfortable and experience less stress for their big day.
“The care and the absolute effort that our team puts in to every single client, I think, is what makes us different. Of course, we have the spectacular food from the Breakers. We have the exact same piece of fish, or cut of filet, that the hotel does, just at an approachable price,” she said. “I think it’s that we’re pretty much on-site planning. You don’t have to spend the money on a wedding planner when you work with us.”
Breakers West also offers bridal shower and engagement packages. The venue is able to work with a wide variety of budgets, always treating clients like family.
“I like to think that I get married every weekend,” Clark said.
To learn more about booking an event at Breakers West, located at 1550 Flagler Parkway in West Palm Beach, call Clark at (877) 724-2045 or visit www.breakerswestclub.com.