5@5 - Food festival director Lee Schrager
September 14th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

You may not immediately acknowledge Lee Schrager in a crowd of culinary gods and America's favorite television chefs - but trust us, he's around.

Schrager is the creator and director of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival - now in its tenth year - and its sister event, the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, which donates 100 percent of its net proceeds to the hunger relief organizations Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength. Both festivals now host a respective and impressive crowd of approximately 50,000 food and wine lovers every year.

Let's put it this way: the man knows how to throw a party - and when you're dealing with lining up an all-star roster of talent, and lots of it, the power lunch is just another part of the job description.

Five Tips on How to Impress a Power Broker with a Meal: Lee Schrager

1. "Secure a reservation at a restaurant with coveted space. Momofuku’s Ko in New York City, for example, has under 20 seats – showing your guest that you know where to go to get a reservation at one of the most coveted spots in town demonstrates that you pay attention to current news and trends ... and most importantly, that you know where to get a great meal!"

2. "[By] getting the best table or being in best area in the restaurant. At Minetta Tavern, for instance, (also in New York) the best tables are in the back of the restaurant. Atmosphere is an important part of any meal experience - comfortable surroundings breed comfortable conversations."

3. "No matter how much you may know about wine, or how much your guest might think you know, don’t be afraid to ask the sommelier for his/her recommendations. Listen, I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for 30 years and have been around wine for a majority of that time - I always ask for suggestions from the sommelier. A good sommelier will be able to recommend options that are good fit with the chef’s cuisine at that particular restaurant."

4. "Beyoncé and Jay-Z come over to say that they’re sorry you couldn’t make it to their concert yesterday."

5. "When the chef comes over to the table to ask 'can I cook for you,' and to check on your experience. Getting to speak to and see the person who is preparing your food will put anyone at ease - and professionals have a mutual respect for people who show a commitment to customer satisfaction."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Steven

    I think i can impress the power broker most by punching him in the face while i eat my burger

    September 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  2. AdriannaA.

    LOL James. Did you really just get on the comments section to "brag" about how you made your millions? Well, I happen to work on wall street and have done well for myself, but I don't need to bring down others in order to tout my own dillusional self centered ego. Get over yourself. I'm sure you're not living the "high life" as you say. People that do don't go around leaving comments about all the supposed "fortune". Loser. Seriously.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  3. David

    So essentially.... in order to impress a power broker, you either have to be a power broker, have money, or have the right connections. Wow, how what an insightful piece.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  4. poo

    screw you richers, get out of town

    September 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • stain

      those no good cash-chuckers.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  5. Evil Grin

    I know we're talking power brokers here, but some of these suggestions are beyond the scope of even someone with a hefty expense account.

    Numbers 1 and 2, for instance, are great suggestions. Knowing where to book reservations and how to book them so you get a good seat and a comfortable atmosphere to talk business is important, and doable. Building up a reputation with the elite restaurants, paying extra for ideal space, or simply making the reservation early enough may all do the trick for those. Number 3 is also a good suggestion, though it also largely depends on the person you are lunching that day. What impresses them might be the fact that you know the place or the wines well enough to order.

    But number 4, really? Getting some celeb to come over and pretend they're your pal? Unless they really are personal friends of yours, don't do this. It's tacky. Plus, what are you going to do, call their agent and tell them you need them to impress your guest for ten minutes? Why not suggest flying them by personal jet to your private 15th century castle villa in Italy?

    For the record, I also think these lunches are unneeded expenses for people who least deserve them.

    September 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  6. Panties

    Hello, my name is Panties. I love to eat those precious meals.

    September 15, 2010 at 6:38 am | Reply
    • Irv

      That is hilarious! LOL!

      September 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  7. James

    Do not blame all power brokers. Some individuals like myself have been successful in the economic "crisis" and have made millions. Some people mismanaged their funds and critics like you who have no experience come and act as if you know everything. I profited from this "crisis" and it is your fault if you cannot live the high life.

    September 14, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Reply
    • Corvus

      James,

      Your response is arrogant. You have no idea if the "critic" has no experience or mismanaged his funds, and we on this end have no way of knowing if the "millions" you claim to have made was ethical or did not profit from the misfortune of others. Just because somethign is legal, does not mean it is ethical, but recent experience shows that so many powerbrokers have enriched themselves at the expense of others, that the suspicion expressed here is justifiable. Further, Dan never said he was interested in living "the high life" but I gather from your response, you are.

      Dan is right: the economic "powerbrokers" in this country have "gambled our economy into ruins," and it seems you identify with them. Enjoy your profits while you can, nothing is forever.

      September 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Reply
      • Stochastic

        Dan is not right..he/she is full of it and so are you Corvus. Just because something is popular dosen't make it true. This balme the rich guy is really popular. As far a morality/ethics are concerned..it has been my experience that the one with the most questionable moral character are the ones who rest on the crutches of morality the most. Morality/ethics are subjective. How is it moral/ethical to value one life over another? yet a majority of the population does it on a daiy basis. It is not only done between humans and animals but between humans as well. I don't see many people questioning that. Selective amnesia abounds and is perpetrated by the likes of you.
        Remember it was the power brokers who put an end to the Punic wars, slavery, bonded labour, release of political prisoners etc. One may argue that thye were the ones to create the problems in the first place but that is just another one of the fallacy that every one believe in to justify their apathy and lazyniess.
        The truth is you are jeleaous and frustrated. Frustrated becuse no matter what you say deep down....way deep down you want what they have and you can't figure out how to get it. But rather be an adult about it and pursuing it, you take the crab approch to life and try to pull others down. Shame on you.

        September 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Stochastic

      I agree James,
      Ignorance, arrogance and pride in being stupid are rampant. People don't read or spend time contemplating the consequences of their actions and then blame every one else for their failures. I am getting tired of this 'not my fault' attitude.

      September 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • antipop

      Hope they don't s**t on you James. You just entered the s**t tornado to Oz.

      September 15, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  8. Dan

    Do we really need to impress power brokers?!?!?! In a nut shell, they are the ones that have gambled our economy into ruins, and yet we need to impress them with fancy hundred dollar dinners?

    September 14, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Reply
    • Erick

      Amen.

      September 14, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Reply
    • DonnyB

      Hundred dollar dinners? Maybe for the dinner itself. Add on pre/post dinner drinks, wine, appetizers, I'd expect a good "power broker" dinner would be more like 3 bills apiece.

      September 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Sporkatus

      Hundred dollar dinners? He ain't talkin' 'bout Benihana! More like $300 dinners. Oh yeah, and then there's the wine.

      September 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Reply

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