June 03, 2015
To raise the most money during a gala auction, it helps to sell items that play on the event’s theme. It’s one reason why our trips to locations like Las Vegas are popular with organizations who throw “casino night” parties, or that sophisticated travel packages to places like Paris and London go well with black-tie affairs.
But an often-neglected way of pairing auction with event can be literally served up on a plate: Creating a menu for the evening that goes well with a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. non-profit auction travel package can be a fun way to highlight a night’s aesthetic while also making supporters hunger for a trip out of town. Some of our most popular trips include lots of exposure to local cuisine, and that means plenty of unique dishes to spice up your get-together.
One of the many traits New York City is famous for, of course, is its food. If you doubt that, ask any native New Yorker you know about where in the city to get the best slice of pizza or best bagel – but only do so if you’ve got a couple of hours to kill listening to the response. If a non-profit is offering one of our Big Apple trips – like perhaps the “Savor New York – Deliciously!” package, which includes a food tour through either the Lower East Side or NoLita? – a fun way of drawing attention may be to set up a faux-hot dog stand on the premises. While donors wander around and mingle, they can grab a dog as well. This works especially well at fancier parties, believe it or not, as there’s no better conversation starter than the shared danger of trying to eat a hot dog with ketchup and mustard while wearing formal clothing.
Want to go quirkier? Fans of the southwest will enjoy our “Sophisticated Southwest Style” trip, which takes donors on a four-day, three-night trip to Santa Fe, NM, to explore the culture of one of the region’s most artistically-forward cities. But Santa Fe is also a capital of southwestern cuisine, and to get the attention of your supporters, there is but one dish to serve: The Frito pie. The casserole-esque dish is said by some to have gotten its start in Santa Fe at a Woolworth’s lunch counter and even spawned a mini-controversy when chef and critic Anthony Bourdain insulted it during his CNN show. It works as a side dish or, maybe even better, as a passed hors-d'oeuvre; simply cut open a small bag of Fritos lengthwise and top with chili, cheese and anything else that would go on, say, a taco.
Tacos aren’t a part of the menu at most places in New Orleans, but if your organization would like to offer trips to the Crescent City there are plenty of culinary delights to pair with the travel package. Adventures like our “Discover New Orleans’ Celebrated Downtown” and “The Home of Jazz” both offer donors a chance to take a cooking class as the famed New Orleans School of Cooking, and it is almost a guarantee they’ll learn to whip up a beignet while in the city. The pastry makes for a perfect breakfast when in New Orleans, but load it up with powdered sugar and it can make an excellent dessert course. Don’t forget to add a strong cup of coffee and some live Dixieland jazz.
We don’t have a test kitchen, but we do have more suggestions – reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert to talk about offering one of these trips!
Eat, Travel, Love
June 04, 2014
One of the great joys of travel is getting the chance to experience a new culture, whether it’s by taking in beautiful sights, seeing local music or visiting area museums. But to really get a taste of a destination, find a dinner table; there may be no more authentic way to immerse yourself in a new place than figuring out the local cuisine. According to the U.S. Travel Association, “fine dining” is the fourth-biggest reason for leisure travel among Americans, and with celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern shining light on hidden foodie adventures near and far, that ranking seems only likely to increase.
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we’ve put together a wide range of culinary experiences, both domestic and international, for use by non-profits as charity auction travel packages. Whether it’s gumbo and crawfish in New Orleans or pasta and wine in Italy, Mitch-Stuart can send your donors to sample some of the world’s great cuisines – and put some extra cash in your non-profit’s pocket.
From Julia Child to today, France has attracted a reverence from many travelers when it comes to its cuisine. The nation has one of the longest list of Michelin-starred restaurants, and graduates of French cooking schools are considered to be some of the most qualified chefs in the world. Bring home a little bit of that knowledge after taking a class at the famous L’Atelier Des Sens or La Cuisine Paris with our “Parisian Culture and Cuisine” package. Participants will get a hands-on experience in either school’s kitchen, learning from master instructors. Travelers won’t be stuck making the food for the entire trip, though; the auction packages also includes lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel, the restaurant on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.
Hop in the kitchen in Sorrento, Italy, with a seven-day/six-night trip to the Amalfi Coast stunner. Along with a stay at the Esperidi Resort and a trip to Pompeii, travelers get three classes at the resorts Sorrento Cooking School, where the chefs-to-be will put together a four-course meal, along with receiving in-house lunches after each day’s lesson. Recipes prepared during the seminars will also be included, meaning that the globe-trotting foodies can bring a taste of Italy home, as well. That, of course, is just the on-site offering; the village itself some of the best dining in the country, often supplemented with amazing views.
Class is also in session in the Big Easy. Take a trip to the bayou and enjoy a three-hour class at the New Orleans School of Cooking, right in the heart of the French Quarter. Visitors will get a chance to learn about the city’s cuisine in a hands-on seminar, creating dishes like Crawfish Etouffee, Shrimp Creole and even Bananas Foster Crepes. Travelers will also get a chance to leave the kitchen and head out on a boat for a jazz cruise and Creole buffet.
More Ways to Delight your Donors
November 19, 2013
Last month we shared with you some of the different and delightful travel experiences offered by the latest Mitch-Stuart Inc. Destinations of Excellence® Catalogue. The catalogue is so well-stocked with excellent adventures, it required a second look.
As you begin planning for your most successful 2014 auction, raffles and other fundraising event using travel packages and experiences, look no further than the catalogue but start right here to get some great ideas.
For the Family The experts at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. have combed the globe for family-friendly experiences which include fun-packed trips to the original Disneyland as well as Disney World; or if your tastes wander to the sunniest climes – consider Hawaii and the Fairmont Kea Lani, Cancun’s Palace Resorts or a water park package from one of 50 participating parks in North America! Still haven’t found your perfect trip? Your family can enjoy a historical and cultural vacation in a unique American city such as Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Boston or New Orleans. Make your kids’ (and your own) dreams come true with any one of the above or more listed in the catalogue.
For the Cold-Weather Athlete If skiing is the way to a donor’s heart, consider all the superb ski packages Mitch-Stuart has to offer - winter wonderlands Whistler, Aspen, Vail or Telluride await with luxury accommodations, often ski-in, ski-out and the most luxurious locations. There is virtually no ski resort unexplored by our experts with other fabulous packages including visits to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Vermont or Wyoming and international destinations like Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Each trip is tailored to skiers at any level. Mitch-Stuart ensures incomparable experiences on and off the slopes.
For the Warm-Weather Athlete Golf or tennis? Scuba or swimming? YES, please. When you work with Mitch-Stuart you can have it all. Resort packages to the best golf in the world include the links your donors are longing for: Pinehurst on your choice of 8 championship courses, Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Club & Lodge, AAA Five-Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess with two 18-hole championship courses, finally a stay at the Fairmont, and play at Old St. Andrews the most sought-after golf experience of them all!
For the World Traveler Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors to far-flung corners of the world with every detail catered to perfectly. International experiences include an exotic Indonesian escape in Bali, the exquisite beaches and cruises to the Caribbean, or fabulous jaunts to the exciting cities of Europe including a gourmet adventure in the heart of Italy and sophisticated artsy Amsterdam. In addition to these charming cities, Mitch-Stuart offers packages to London, Monte Carlo, Paris, Montreux and a safari to Africa. Your donors will want to bid on them all – and isn’t that the goal?
For the Gastronome According to social media experts, the most shared content today is FOOD! Photos of food and discussions of deliciousness fill Facebook feeds and occupy Instagram in huge volume. Your donors want to go gourmet and Mitch-Stuart, Inc. has the offerings! Gastronomic delights include South Beach Wine & Food Festival Southwestern and Mexican fare on trips to the gorgeous Sonoran desert, the epitome of nouvelle cuisine with your wine in Napa as well as epicurean excursions to restaurant towns like Chicago and New York. Get your passports ready for international culinary experiences such as cooking classes and wine tastings in Tuscany or Sorrento and days of dining in Paris.
With the ability to customize trips as well, the Mitch-Stuart Destinations of Excellence® trips and experiences may be the only source of auction and fundraising ideas you need to plan.
Oktoberfest! Time To Celebrate The Best Brews Across America
October 15, 2013
Oktoberfest has been an important part of Bavarian culture since 1810 and an important part of world culture for almost as long with fairs and festivals of the hops-happy everywhere you turn. In fact, with the overwhelming popularity of craft beer in our country, (craft beer sales rose 15% in dollars and 13% in volume in the first six months of 2013) and more than 2,500 breweries currently operating in the U.S.—the most since the pre-Prohibition era—a golden age of beer is underway! No better time to celebrate suds than October, and here are some great destinations that the experts at Mitch-Stuart Inc. recommend. And if you are planning a charity auction or other fundraiser, keep them in mind when putting together some great packaged travel for your bidders! Cheers or Jubel as they say in German!
Already a food and wine mecca, Chicago knows how to appreciate the best beers too. This month visit the Public House featuring a month of beer-mania including beer and brat tastings! Additionally Mitch-Stuart, Inc. offers "Leave a Pizza Your Heart in Chicago," a getaway for two to Chicago which includes an Original Chicago Pizza Tour – goes great with beer, of course!
You may not think of our Canadian neighbors as a hotbed of Hornchen (German pastry) but the Victoria Edelweiss Club throws a mean schnitzel dinner with beer and accordion entertainment – totally authentic!
After enjoying a day of sand and surf in “America’s Finest City”, whether its “Oktober” or not, sample a variety of award-winning beers via a unique Mitch-Stuart Inc. experience—craft beer tour. With over 60 craft breweries in San Diego county alone, the beer enthusiast culture is on the rise. Sit back and relax on this fun and safe way to visit San Diego's breweries, and taste many of their award-winning beers.
Mitch-Stuart Inc. offers “History and Hops of New York” a trip for two including a New York beer and brewery tour. And, the whole month of October in New York features events and happenings from a group called Germany in NYC which you can check out here.
Many may remember that Tumwater, WA was the home of Olympia Brewery which shut down in 2003. But that doesn’t keep the region out of ale! There are many regional Oktoberfests including one in Leavenworth, WA boasting live music, arts and crafts and activities for the whole family and a keg tapping ceremony!
No matter where you are spending October, may it be worthy of a toast!
I’ll Have What She’s Having
September 17, 2013
The true cuisine connoisseur goes to Paris for pate and pot au feu; North Carolina for BBQ and New York city for “deli.” Deli is short for delicatessen, which comes from German words meaning yummy food and the term has come to refer to Eastern European Jewish food in general. “Deli” is defined by meat sandwiches on rye bread and hard rolls, sour pickled cucumbers, tomatoes and sauerkraut, and potato salad and cole slaw. The best definition of deli may be this one: Jewish deli food is salty and fatty, sour and juicy, chewy and crusty. The “delic” in delicatessen is for delicious, not delicate!
Of course the title of this blog refers to the immortal utterance in “When Harry Met Sally” which was filmed at Katz’s, 2nd stop on our tour of NYC delis, a tour which we encourage you to proffer up to please the palates at your next fundraiser or charity auction. Do so and be sure to see mouths water and donations rise!
Planning a trip to New York’s delis includes visits to at least four of the five boroughs of Manhattan where there will be much to do to whet an appetite before stopping for a corned beef or pastrami on rye. We have compiled a “baker’s dozen” of must munch eateries and you can fight among yourselves about whose corned beef is king!
2nd Ave Deli
Barney Greengrass (Upper West Side)
Russ and Daughters (Lower East Side)
Mile End Delicatessen (Brooklyn)
Jay & Lloyds (Brooklyn)
Liebman’s Deli (Bronx)
Loeser’s Kosher Deli (Riverdale, Bronx)
Lido Kosher Deli (Long Beach, near the beach)
Ben's Best Kosher Deli (Rego Park, Queens)
A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Travel
August 27, 2013
Google chocolate and travel and you get about 300 million results! There’s a good reason for that, with chocolate topping many favorite “things to eat” and travel topping many favorite “things to do.” Savvy organizers of fundraisers
and charity auctions
will want to combine these two audience pleasers.
Mitch-Stuart, Inc. offers plenty of these (guilty) pleasure trips to some serious chocolate capitals. Feast your eyes (and then your palates!) below:
San Francisco Get a true taste of the city on one of three delicious tours! You’ll enjoy a spectrum of chocolate flavors on the Ultra Chocolate Tour, including French, Belgian and American chocolates, and a blind chocolate bar tasting. Top if off with a Chocolate Lover Card entitling you to discounts and VIP treatment at nearby boutiques!
Boston Boston’s not just about seafood… The Original Chocolate Walking Tour will take you to the best chocolate shops, bakeries and cafes near vibrant Newbury Street.
Asheville Prepare your palate for a delicious epicurean combination! You’ll get to enjoy a red wine and chocolate truffle tasting! A friendly host will guide you through your tasting, and you will learn about the red wine-making process and why chocolate and red wine are considered a natural pairing.
New York The Big Apple is actually a chocoholic paradise, which hosts two of National Geographic’s Top 10 Best Chocolate purveyors. Read on for a sampling of some of New York’s most amazing shrines to the cocoa bean.
Let us know you travel for your chocolate fix!
The City Bakery specializes in hot chocolate, all year long, but particularly in February’s month-long hot chocolate festival featuring a different special flavor daily as well as original. Considered the best by many, its rich and thick with a homemade marshmallow.
Vosges offers a bacon chocolate bar and a mushroom chocolate bar and chocolate covered spicy fire tortilla chips. Sounds weird yes? But very cool and different.
Jacques Torres is renowned for rich and delicious and hot chocolate bar. They also sell some chocolate with sex appeal – such as caramel body spread etc. Something for everyone.
Max Brenner is on the Nat Geo list, and has a complete restaurant menu in addition to fine hand-made chocolate. They have vats of chocolate and unusual offerings such as praline waffle balls!
Serendipity is a must-do as they are open late and serve food and are famous for the frozen hot chocolate! The landmark offers other amazing desserts and the atmosphere is classic and cozy.
Magnolia Bakery is also on the Nat Geo list and is best known for its daily cupcakes with flavors such as Truffle: devil’s food cake and chocolate or white chocolate truffle filling covered with chocolate ganache or German chocolate cupcakes.
Beware the Hungry Road Warrior
April 16, 2013
Road warriors know certain truths. First, if you are trying to stretch the travel budget never, ever stay at the conference hotel. There is always a better deal, often right across the street. Second, clear Homeland Security early. It’s better to wait on the other side of the wall.
If flying out of San Francisco, you might want to get in line the night before the flight. It is without a doubt the worst of the major airports when it comes to clearing security.
That brings us to food. No real road warrior would pay United Airlines $7.99 for a microwaved cheese burger or $7.49 for a snack box of stuff you wouldn’t buy if you were on the ground. Real road warriors know where and when to eat. The food at airports is overpriced in all cases but you can get a decent meal if you know where to look.
A favorite place is in Houston at the George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport. In Terminal C you’ll find an area called Real Food. It’s cafeteria style. There’s everything from barbecue to salads to meatloaf to chicken and deli. It is airport pricing, but the portions are respectable. If I’m going to or through Houston, I wait to eat there.
My home airport is Newark Liberty International. The food there is early American shopping mall food court. For the trendoids, there’s a Crumbs Bake Shop if you want to spend $3.95 on a cupcake or $4.25 on a cannoli. There is a Gallagher’s Steakhouse in Terminal C. It’s nothing like its namesake in New York City and the food has been uneven in multiple tries. But, it’s probably the best of what Newark has to offer.
You would think that the food at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans would be mighty tasty. You’d be wrong. It’s got to be in the top five worst airports for food. Likewise, you’d think there would be decent food at Ronald Reagan International Airport with all of the important folks going through there. You’d be wrong again, although a Five Guys hamburger joint just opened.
Whenever one of those celebrity chefs opens a chain of eateries in airports you can expect to be disappointed, like I was at Cat Cora’s Kitchen at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. That isn’t the case in Chicago at O’Hare International Airport where Rick Bayless has opened Tortas Frontera. There’s a guacamole bar, soups, salads and breakfast sandwiches. The main attraction is the tortas, griddle-baked Mexican sandwiches with a variety of fillings such as beer-braised beef short ribs, chipotle chicken, garlicky shrimp and goat cheese. Here’s the best part. It has a list of the local farms from where the food was sourced.
It’s a long way from San Francisco International to downtown. Grab a cup of soup at the San Francisco Soup Company near Gate 80. They have a great variety of nice soups and, of course, some sour dough to go with it.
You don’t have to be hungry or under-nourished while on the road. To steal a phrase from celebrity chef Alton Brown, you can find good eats at the airport.
Paul Clolery is vice president and editorial director of NPT Publishing Group in Morris Plains, N.J., which publishes The NonProfit Times and its sister publication the magazine Exempt. He also has oversight responsibilities for the editorial content The NonProfit Times Online, the e-letters NPT Weekly, NPT Instant Fundraising, NPT TechnoBuzz, Exempt and NPTJobs.
Often a speaker for industry meetings and conferences, he has spoken at conferences of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, The American Society of Association Executives, The American Institue of Certified Public Accountants, The DMA Nonprofit Federation, the Blackbaud user conference, the Kintera user conference, the Convio user and the Sage Software user conferences. He also has been master of ceremonies for events at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.