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Getting to know Shaina Kolzow
Meet Shaina Kolzow. Currently the Creative Event and Brand Manager at Gastronomy she LOVES food. So much so that she has a Bachelor Degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition! Shaina hails from Illinois in the States and knows first hand that event planning is in the top 10 most stressful jobs a person can have. To wind down she loves good take away and a glass of wine. Join us as we meet another passionate Event Pro…
Give us a snap shot of your career to date.
I have been in the hospitality industry since the very beginning. Starting my first jobs in cafes and restaurants is where my passion for food began. My interest in food, now my biggest hobby, brought me to seriously consider culinary school. Instead, I earned a bachelor’s in food science human nutrition and in those years met a start-up catering company run by two sisters setting the bar for catering with incredible food and stunning presentation in my home state of Illinois back in the States. With them I worked just about every position from full time in the kitchen to front of house supervisor to most recently acting as the Director of the brand-new event venue space they built from the ground up. It was a hustle from the very beginning but after 10 years working with some of the most creative, hard working bunch, my time with that team has shaped who I am today. Somewhere in the middle of those years, I took time away to work with a bigger brand caterer working in Chicago’s most elite venues where I learned how to work in a more corporate environment. This year I joined my partner in Sydney for my biggest adventure yet and have settled in nicely with the Gastronomy team where I am encouraged to push my creative boundaries for our clients.
The most memorable event you have worked on and why?
There are so many on this list, each memorable for unique attributes, but one that always jumps to mind would be my first big budget, multi-day, multi-million-dollar incentive trip conference. I was an intern and it was the first time I had been exposed to the possibility of events so elaborate with celebrity guest speakers and over the top evening events.
What did you ‘learn the hard way’ when planning an event?
That no matter how much you want to sympathise with your client’s own planning dramas, it’s always best to stay professional. There’s a reason event planning continually finds itself in the top 10 most stressful jobs next to surgeon and military professionals, so avoiding that extra stress is key to staying on top of the tasks on your own to-do list. Plus, you can still find the balance to maintain a friendly relationship with your clients!
What are three personality traits that are required to succeed in the events industry?
If you could share one piece of advice to those starting out in the industry what would it be?
It’s going to be harder than you imagine from the outside but don’t give up. If you find it’s right for you, you will also find the systems and procedures you need to successfully tackle each event. The satisfaction delivered at the end of each event is so worth it!
Favourite type of food?
Southeast Asian food. I could eat pho for breakfast lunch and dinner!
How do you unwind after a big event?
I totally unplug. I used to love a social event with the team after events but now I find I need that time to unwind quietly, usually with my favourite cheat meal (whatever takeaway meal I’m craving that night!) and a glass of wine.
Words to live by?
It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: love your work and never work a day in your life.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
Often working odd hours, the biggest challenge remains keeping a balanced routine during the busy weeks.
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
A long walk in nature or high fashion magazines. Between the two you’re sure to find the hottest trends and natural beauty to build fresh ideas.
When entertaining at home what do you cook?
I rarely hosted a formal dinner party, so often when hosting, I’ll cook the recipes I know are a hit, nothing fancy. Baked brie en croute with my onion jam often makes that list – it’s just simply delicious and deceivingly easy.
What do you prefer, cocktail party or sit-down dinner?
Definitely cocktail party. The vibe is usually a bit more casual and better for mingling with the guests.
What is your ideal holiday destination?
Anywhere where I can find adventure mixed with relaxation and amazing food.
What’s your drink of choice at an event?
Almost always a glass of bubbly, but I won’t pass up a creative specialty cocktail if available either.
It’s event day – heels or flats?
The key is bringing several pairs of shoes. After enough hours on your feet, no shoe is perfect, so I find that mixing it up helps. Sneakers for set up, a heel or less comfortable/more stylish shoe for the official event start and when necessary another pair of professional flats for the latter half of the event.
Best event styling tip?
Just like Coco Chanel once said, “before you leave the house, take a look at yourself and remove one piece” – often times simplifying event décor can speak louder than cluttered design.
What is your best party trick?
Just like in catering, the best home party trick is to prepare as much as possible by the day before, that way on the day of you can work on the finer details and enjoy your guests
What is the craziest request you have ever had when planning an event?
Nothing sticks out prior to the event, but once working a wedding the mother of the groom asked me to remove the children dancing along on the dancefloor during the couple’s first dance. Now that’s something I won’t ever forget. It still makes me cringe today!