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Industry Innovators 2023: Mary Giuliani

The founder and CEO of Mary Giuliani Catering & Events draws on her theater background to tell stories through food.

Industry Innovators 2023: Mary Giuliani
"Events are perfect opportunities to tell great stories through food and beverage, and we have been dedicated to that tenet since the day we opened our doors," says Giuliani.
Photo: Courtesy of MGCE

Industry Innovators 2023: Mary GiulianiMGCE founder and CEO Mary GiulianiPhoto: Courtesy of MGCEMary Giuliani is the founder and CEO of Mary Giuliani Catering & Events (MGCE). She's based in New York.

How she got her start: "I guess you can say it’s in my blood," says Giuliani. "I am named after my two beloved grandmothers, Mary and Lucille. These two women could not be more different. Mary was a traditional homemaker and wife: an accomplished cook and mother who put family above all else. Lucille (my middle name) was an ultra-modern woman for her time, a maverick entrepreneur and risk-taker with dynamic business savvy, who owned and ran several successful hotels in Montauk, N.Y., and became an ambassador for the then-sleepy beach town."

Giuliani calls herself a "delicious mixed cocktail of these two extraordinary women. I am proud to be a hard-working woman with deep-rooted entertaining traditions, both at home and in my business."

After receiving her degree in English and Theater from Georgetown University, Giuliani initially arrived in New York City hoping to pursue an acting and writing career. To pay the bills, she took a job at a boutique catering company in the East Village—and quickly fell in love. "It took me all of about a month to ditch the stage for the party as I realized I had, in fact, landed precisely where I wanted to be," she remembers. "I immediately recognized that well-done events were theatrical, transformative, creative—and further, that the entrepreneurial spirit was in my blood. In 2005, I committed myself fully by launching Mary Giuliani Catering & Events."

Industry Innovators 2023: Mary GiulianiGiuliani's all-time favorite food? "I wrote a book titled Tiny Hot Dogs. So, I’ll give you one guess?" she says with a laugh.Photo: Courtesy of MGCEWhat sets her company apart: Giuliani sees events as an opportunity to "tell great stories" through food and beverage. "We have been dedicated to that tenet since the day we opened our doors, telling the greatest food and beverage stories New York has ever seen. We love bringing a client’s brand or vision to life with creative, memorable one-of-a-kind event experiences," she explains.

What innovation means to her: After 18 years in business, Giuliani believes her company has stayed relevant due to its team of "collaborative creatives"—and the company motto of "work hard, be nice, and inspire." 

"Led by our president Michele Pokowicz, our team is dedicated to creating the most unique, transformative, and memorable event experiences for our clients," she says. "We constantly share and collaborate with each other; we listen and learn from each other, and we deeply inspire each other on a daily basis—and that camaraderie inspires true innovation. This is how we’ve maintained the trust and respect from a steady roster of clients—major players and notable brands—to create events that are truly memorable and buzzworthy."

Industry Innovators 2023: Mary Giuliani"Food and entertainment as theater are our wheelhouse, and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!" she says.Photo: Courtesy of MGCEMemorable moments: Giuliani recalls her team's first event after a COVID-related pause: a "Back to New York" event at Sotheby’s for its top clients. "This was meaningful for so many reasons, but I will never forget the excitement that the whole team enjoyed, sitting around the table, writing our first new menu in almost a year," she says. "I remember the only instruction I gave was, 'Let’s make this menu a true love letter to New York City.' Notable items from that menu were our caviar-on-knish first course and a delicious everything-bagel-crusted salmon."

Her all-time favorite food: "I wrote a book titled Tiny Hot Dogs. So, I’ll give you one guess?" Giuliani says with a laugh. "I will be eternally grateful to this humble little treat of flaky buttered dough and salted beef and all the incredible places it has taken me and my team."

Her biggest hope for the F&B industry: "That food and gathering continue to unite and tell great stories!" says Giuliani. "I hope that both MGCE will continue to push the envelope of imagining new possibilities for presenting food and drink that not only tastes delicious and looks great, but ignites all the senses. I’ve had a blast creating a live storytelling event, 'Eating Stories,' that MGCE has presented in various incarnations over the past 10 years—and in 2023, we’ll be taking that event even wider. Food and entertainment as theater are our wheelhouse, and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!"

In true form, Giuliani adds: "Oh and of course, peace on earth through pigs in a blanket!"

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