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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

San Franccisco NACE • Hotel Vitale

Go Green, Save Green... That was the theme of the SF NACE meeting at the Hotel Vitale I attended last evening.

I joined many of my industry colleagues on the outdoor terrace that overlooks my beloved Ferry Building, home of my favorite haunts: Miette, Acme Bread, Out the Door, Delica RF, etc. etc. etc...

The Hotel has indoor space as well as a beautifully terraced roof top with several areas where one can hold an outdoor wedding ceremony or reception. The rooftop is perfect for city chic brides who want a waterfront view of the San Francisco Bay.

I was excited to attend the event for several reasons, one being the guest speakers talking about green businesses and weddings. The other draw for me was my friend, colleague and Flirty Guide Florist Karen Hsu of Grandiflora created the floral pieces for the evening. On the outdoor terrace Karen had designed these arrangements that used a portion of a leaf that had been used for the centerpieces at dinner. See those tall spikey looking leaves? Well they aren't leaves persay. They are the center "vein" from a flat, broad leaf that Karen used in some other arrangements. So rather then throwing them away, she used her creativity to find a new purpose for them.

And to carry out the green colored theme she removed the yellow petals from these sunflowers. I thought they were gorgeous! Odd how removing the prettiest part of a flower revealed a much more dramatic look that made the humble sunflower look like a futuristic sculptural piece.

The actual meeting was held in the Amalfi Ballroom located on the first level of the hotel. Event Designer and SF Nace Meeting Co-chair Duncan Reyes told us that the actual colors of this room are khaki and blue! The dramatic red lighting provided by Got Light certainly showed how easy it is to transform a space and create an entirely different ambience with special event lighting.

A large dramatic ikebana piece created by Grandiflora greeted us as we entered the Amalfi Ballroom.

The large accordion leaves were dried palm fronds so the neat thing was that even though they were big they were incredibly lightweight.

I loved that our first course was that each table had two of these mini antipasto trays. We could pick and choose what suited our tastes. These days with so many people going vegetarian and vegan it's a great way to offer something for everyone.

And to me the highlight of Grandiflora's flowers last night were these centerpieces. I LOVED that they were unique and eco-friendly. Aside from reusing the leaf veins in the arrangements I showed you earlier, these ruffled, accordion shaped wreathes also serve an even more important eco-friendly function: The use of the negative spaces created by the folded leaves eliminates the need for using floral foam to set cut flowers in.

As Karen described, floral foam is the least eco-friendly thing most floral designers use in making arrangements because the foam is not biodegradable. To top it off the leaf base will last for up to 3 weeks if kept in water! You will need to change out the cut flowers a few times but even some simple snips from your own yard or a single batch of cut flowers from the grocery store would work just fine.

Dinner was a yummy vegetarian pasta full of fresh corn.

There were three guest speakers. The first was Wedding Photographer Gustavo Fernández. Gustavo shared with us how he became a certified green company. He imparted many great bits of information about how to make your living/workspace as eco-friendly as possible by working with a certification organization. They will help guide you to making better choices and improvements in the products you are using in your day to day life.

He also suggested as business owners to seek out other companies to work with who are also green. This extends the reach of what you are accomplishing on your own if you give your business to other companies that adhere to the same or similar standards.

Our second speaker of the evening was Patti Lew, a Green Columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. Patti shared that many brides don't realize that "green" can often mean less expensive.

She also brought up the term "greenwash" which identifies companies that claim to be green in their marketing but really aren't in practice. So do your research. If being green and eco-friendly are important to you, verify the company you are considering hiring really is certified by www.greenweddingproviders.com or here in California at www.greenbiz.ca.gov.

While enjoying the Panna Cotta dessert with fresh berries our final speaker was Krysta North, Director of Events, at the Hotel Vitale who did a great job explaining how green the Hotel Vitale is. The hotel understands the importance of preserving the environment and is a certified green hotel participating in both the California Green Lodging Program and the San Francisco Green Business Program.

Read more on this detailed press release about their green meetings packages.

And more on this dessert. I've only had Panna Cotta once before and LOVED it! But then the restaurant closed and to be honest I forgot all about it. But last night I was reminded once again that it has to be one of my all time favorites! If you've never had it the best description I can give it is that it reminds me of the yellow custard in fancy donuts like eclairs or Bavarians but imagine that custard a thousand times more silky smooth and there you have Panna Cotta.

Most of you know I hate having my picture taken. Well Karen Hsu of Grandiflora hates having her picture taken even more. So when I saw her chatting with Marlen Abolafia after the meeting I was able to get them to pose for this shot. She'll probably hate me for posting this photo but I thought you might all be curious to see the woman behind the amazing floral arrangements I've shared with you in this post.

And look how happy I was to win one of the centerpieces! There was a raffle at the end of the night and I was so excited to win this gorgeous centerpiece. Even the dish is eco-friendly because it's food-safe and reusable as Karen went to the kitchen department of Ikea for the container instead of using a not food safe floral container.

Thank you to Mimi Rodriguez of Creative Designs by Mimi Invitations for snapping this photo of me at the end of the night.

Another plus, it was easy to transport home with no fear of it falling or tipping over :)


  1. It was so wonderful to finally meet you last night! Thank you so much for chatting it up with us before the event started. I'm so glad we have met - I feel a friendship in the wind. :-)
    -- jennifer

  2. Thank you Stacie for attending and proving a great overview of the evening, i had a great time sharing my passion for "Greening" your business!

  3. Stacie, thanks for taking such great photos of the flowers. Enjoy the centerpiece you took home! watering is the key of keeping it happy and fresh. And thanks for highlighting the flowers! We love this green design too--yes, no floral foams!!


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