My dinner in Beverly Hills – a surprising lesson

Have you ever heard of the fashion designer BCBG or BCBGMaxazria? You probably have seen their clothing in magazines, in department stores or in their own showrooms and stores.

I first became acquainted with BCBG when I heard their Chief Creative Officer, Lubov Azria, speak at a luncheon last year. What most inspired me about Lubov’s story was that she combined her humble beginnings from the Ukraine with her passion for fashion to create a fashion-forward clothing line that is approachable and affordable for all women.

So, when a friend of mine invited me to a small dinner with Lubov and a few other women, I jumped at the chance. After all, ever since I heard her speak, I have looked for her BCBG line. In fact, I wore one of her dress designs to dinner!

As it turns out, our dinner was held at Scarpetta at the Montage Hotel, tucked away in the heart of Beverly Hills.

The 12 of us were seated in a private dining room, just off the kitchen. Executive Chef Freddy Vargas came out and explained each course before it was served. I was thrilled that he was able to accommodate my request for a vegan menu, and it was one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate - Scarpetta Beverly Hills Vegan Menu

At each place setting, there was a personally autographed copy of The Scarpetta Cookbook, authored by the founding chef, Scott Conant.

These days, in addition to recipes, most cookbooks contain stories and background on the chef. As I thumbed through this particular cookbook, I found some inspiration and a lesson, right there on page 119:

“If you are going to go into the restaurant business, you need to have that same sensibility, that desire to take care of people and even if they are not part of the family, to make them feel like they are.”

I think you can replace the word “restaurant” with the name of ANY business and you could define the secret to real success. I believe that is also Lubov’s secret to success—she cares about people and makes them feel like family, just like Chef Scott Conant does.

How many times have you gone to a restaurant, a hotel, or someone’s business, and wonder why you sometimes feel a closeness, a connection, when other times you do not?

I do believe it is “making guests feel sincerely welcome and relevant” that makes the difference.

It is quite interesting that I learned such a humbling lesson in a city like Beverly Hills where it is far better known for unrelatable decadence and conspicuous consumption.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate - Anna Ouroumian, Karen Caplan, and Lubov Azria

Left to right: Our host, Anna Ouroumian, me, and Lubov Azria.

Karen

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