Mindy Moore – Chicago Hospitality Professional of the Month (January 2016)January 19th, 2016 | hereschicago
Interview with Mindy Moore, Director of Group Events at Ravinia Festival and Here’s Chicago’s January 2016 Chicago Hospitality Professional of the Month!
Where did your hospitality career begin? I started as a waitress so I learned very early on the art of interacting with the customer. I was only 16 when I got that job at Gullys, and it was a very fancy restaurant for a teenager. It was a tough job, but I fell in love with the service business immediately.
How many years have you been in the hospitality business? Before I even finished school, and long before starting a family and raising successful children, the hospitality business was a big part of my life. There was never a time when it wasn’t my “real job” even when I had a different day job and ran a restaurant at night. I noticed that I walked to the advertising agency, but I ran to the restaurant.
Why do you feel you are hospitality professional of the month? What would your friends say about you if they were nominating you? It seems I have worked either with or for everyone I know in this business, and I know how hard they work, so I just think of myself as Mindy-Moore-of-the-Month. My friends tell me that I have a creative spirit and am fun to be around especially when the deadlines loom and I power up to “get-it-done” mode. What I know about myself is that each event is the most important event whether it’s 25 students eating burgers or 2,500 guests at an expensive fund-raising dinner.
What qualities to you feel a person needs to excel in as hospitality professional? It depends on what level of your career you’re in, because so many of us pick up what we need to learn on the job. Obviously, hospitality, professionals need to maintain contacts, have strong organizational and time management skills, and be familiar with best practices in health, safety and sanitation. I would say the less obvious job requirement is human compassion. Remember the pressures your client is under, put yourself in their shoes so that you not only hear but also surprise your client. Be careful when multi-tasking that you don’t lose focus on each task you must tackle. Most of all, accomplish all of this while reflecting back the fun your guests are having.
How did you get into hospitality field? A famous restaurateur said, “Mindy, you are great at this business and should make a career out of it. I would like to create a position for you if you in our company.” I said yes and have been working professionally in hospitality ever since.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? My dad was the best event planner and most gracious host I ever met. So you can say this is in my genes. He had an amazing knack of making people feel welcome. He always kept his favorite music playing, and he invited people to dance into his home and eventually his heart.
What kinds of things really make you laugh? Some of my best laughs come from the faux pas I have made while planning and executing events—and sometimes I need to save those until I get home. When I am relaxed with a friend, colleague or client, any witticism or shrewd observation can set me roaring. You can’t work together if you can’t laugh together. I also get a kick out of silly outrageous fashions.
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Sure, I love working and I love cultural places, theaters, concert halls and museums. But at the end of the day, I guess my answer, must be BED.
Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her? My best friend is a theater and movie actress who I met working in the restaurant business 28 years ago. She is fun, quirky, honest, and inquisitive and she LOVES me back. I am also extremely close with my crazy siblings.
What is your favorite movie of all time? Why so? The Wedding Planner and the Great Gatsby with Leo, they both have some of the most elaborate parties and organization. See? Even when I go to the movies I bring this passion with me.
What’s your biggest goal in life right now? Creating peace—if not in the whole world, at least in my world.
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday? I work most Saturdays, so I like to get up, go to the gym and take my time, get to the event before the vendors show up to make certain the room is ready, wait for the vendors to start working, go home and gather myself, then show up at work and wait for the client to come in. At midnight I like to eat the leftover desserts. And that’s why I go to the gym.
Do you have any pet peeves? I don’t like when guests or clients are disrespectful to the vendors or visa versa. I don’t like when vendors charge extra because they THINK the client can afford it. One cannot count someone else’s money. I adore when the party is over and it is just as clean and fun as when the guests arrive.
What was your family like growing up? Fun, dysfunctional, independent and full of love. So in a way, I’ll always be growing up—but not too much, I hope.
What were you like as a kid? I’d plan your tea party for a quarter.
Did you—or do you—have a nickname? What’s the story behind it? No nickname
Have you received any praise or accolades recently? I am graced with daily accolades and praise from my clients, colleagues and family. I take great pride and pleasure from thank-you notes that clients send. My boss keeps a file of them.
What type of events do you plan? I like all events. The challenge of putting all the vendors and time management in place is great. Events take a life of their own as soon as the first guest arrives.
What type of music do you love? As I do with food, I have a wildly diverse taste in music, so I’m lucky to be working at Ravinia, where we have different live music every day, from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. But I am the president of the Harry Connick Jr. Fan Club
What don’t people know about you? I love to sew.
What do you love about planning events in Chicago? Planning events is Chicago is the greatest. We have the most creative resources that are on the cutting edge and trendy with enough conservatism to get the messages across. We are centrally located, have the best hotels, best food and beverage and musical opportunities. Our close-knit community will always welcome the newcomers and take the time to teach and share our experience. Plus, they are all my friends!
What is your favorite restaurant or bar (Personally)? I love most restaurants, but my favorite family go-to is Gene and Georgettis, Gibsons and Le Colonial and now River Roast!
When not working, what do you love to do?i love to go to Millennium park and ice skate, or go to the movies.
Besides your professional talent, do you have any personal talents? (Play guitar, etc.) I love to swim and dance and travel.
Have you ever sung karaoke? If so, what song? I can plan a lot of events with Karaoke, but I NEVER sing.
Future trends in event planning? Everything will be technologically based and very interactive. People bring all their senses to a party—not just taste. Every party will be visceral—see, hear, taste and touch! like the experience visual, sound taste and touch.
What does it take to be a successful even planner? Don’t expect your client to know your jargon or your job. It’s your job to know them.
What is your favorite color? ORANGE
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about manners, protocol and etiquette. It is a gracious way to be respectful of others.
What do you recommend for others who want to get into the hospitality profession? I listen to people who want to PLAN PARTIES all the time, but a hospitality professional is a whole different thing. If a person is willing to give up a lot of personal time and make the profession the priority, then the profession becomes your personal time. I do not like to party very much, but love to be at parties. So ever since I started in this business it was an excuse to have fun but not partake. Now I am a professional at both!
Do you have any Association affiliations? I try to stay involved, NACE, ISES, NAWP, PCMA, NSVCB, CSVB, CARA and Here’s Chicago!
Are you a Cubs or Sox fan? I am a die-hard Baseball fan. I love both team, but have a bit more loyalty to the CUBS, but the food at Sox Park is awesome!
What’s your go-to meal when you’re home alone? Something you’re not likely to see on one of my professional menus: Dry tuna with cottage cheese, yum!
What’s your favorite thing about your hometown? Chicago is the greatest city, warm, welcoming, trendy, great food and theatre and all my family and “my peeps” are here.
Which book(s) have you read multiple times? The Great Gatsby, many titles by Mary Higgins, Siddhartha and all the Dr. Seuss and Shell Silverstien offerings.
What’s on your bucket list? World peace should be the first answer for all of us, but I’d also like to ride and elephant in the circus and ride in a hot-air balloon. Luckily I’m not just a list maker, but I’m a bucket-maker.
What was your First concert? My first concert alone ,I was 16 years old and went to see Crosby, Stills Nash and Young at the Chicago Stadium. We got third row center, BEHIND the stage. I think seeing all the activity behind the scenes gave me my first passion to the entertainment world.
If you had to go back to school or learn a new skill, what would you want to learn? I would be a weather girl or a nurse.
What are your thoughts about Hereschicago.com? I LOVE HERE’S CHICAGO! AND am honored to be part of such a professional organization that delivers all it promises!