Lee Schrager’s Advice for Planning Great Events

Each month Behind the Magic will share insight from one of the “magicians” who have created South Florida’s most successful events. We launch with a legend in event-planning, Lee Schrager, who has a long list of fabulous events on his resume. Lee’s candid advice is simple and straight-forward.

Q: What is your first step in planning an event – venue, theme, date, etc.?
A: The first step should be to know your budget upfront. For the Festivals specifically, we certainly also take into consideration elements like the venue, how it works with the event idea/concept, and possible partners for the event.

Q: What is the single most important ingredient in making an event successful?
A: A good mix of people and enough bars.

Q: What do you look for when selecting event services – décor, caterers, performers, etc.?
A: Energy, efficiency and references.

Q: What was your most memorable event and why?
A: Our Tribute Brunch in 2008 – we honored Jamie Oliver, and Alice Waters was here to present it. It was an incredibly inspiring experience.

Q: What was your most successful event?
A: Each Burger Bash® we have seems to be a success – from its initial theme, to our partners that support it, to Rachael Ray’s unwavering love of burgers, and the good-spirited competition between the chefs who participate. That fan-favorite event has been a success all-around since its debut in 2007.

Q: Which event was the most fun?
A: At NYCWFF last year, we did a movie premiere screening for our chefs, media, culinary personalities, and industry insiders of BURNT at MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art) to close-out the Festival weekend. The cast came, including Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl and director John Wells, and New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni moderated a panel discussion following the screening. It was so much fun to see everyone together, and to listen to the cast talk about what it was like to play a chef in front of world-renowned talent like Daniel Boulud.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with other event planners?
A: Have enough ice!

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