Who inspires you?
My parents, Tom and Josie. Both from the Philippines, they immigrated to the US in their early 20s. They met at a Valentine’s Day party in New York City and celebrated their 47th Wedding Anniversary this past September. While my Dad worked in finance in Manhattan, my Mom ran our Filipino grocery store, restaurant, and catering business in White Plains. My Dad would be in the city all week and then worked at the store on the weekends, serving Filipino food from behind the steam table, wiping down trays, stocking shelves, and making trips into Manhattan to pick up baked goods from Chinatown to sell at the store. My work ethic comes from them – seeing how much they did for their customers, their vendors and ultimately for me, my sister, my brother, and our family. They are my own personal legends.
What is your favourite meal and where would you most like to eat it?
Sinigang. It’s a savoury Filipino stew in which the main protein can be pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, or fish, along with vegetables ranging from okra, long beans, and mustard greens to Asian eggplant and taro root. But, the main flavour is a tart component that typically comes from tamarind or other sour fruits. My Mom is an amazing cook and eating her pork version at home, with rice and a side of soy and fish sauces mixed together is my absolute favourite.
What recent podcast would you recommend?
The Dave Chang Show. David Chang is the chef/founder of Momofuku, a restaurant group that started in Manhattan and now has locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Toronto. Food is a gateway to culture. He, along with the guests they bring on, do a great job of using food as a springboard to discuss elements and issues within our society in a very honest, straightforward, and funny way.
If you could time travel, where would you go?
I don’t really have an interest in seeing too far into what the future holds (because I like surprises), but I would love to go back to the late 80s/early 90s. Specifically, the trips my family would make to Toys”R”Us either before a birthday or the holidays. I vividly remember running through the aisles with insane excitement to the G.I. Joe or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. We loved toys and video games growing up. What a time that was.
If you were going to start your own business what would it be?
I was fortunate to travel to Paris many times when I was producing fashion tradeshows. Our friends would always take us to the best wine bars that, unbeknownst to me at the time, were serving only organic and biodynamic wines from small producers. My wife and I have continued to drink and learn about these types of wine over the past 10 years to the point where, maybe one day, we’ll open a retail shop or natural wine bar. Or go even one step further in search of new producers and importing them into the US.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in events?
Always be willing to learn. Be organized and diligent. Do what you can to make your team’s life easier because it will ultimately make your life easier. The majority of the work is in the planning. If the plan is in great shape, the execution on-site will most likely go smoothly.
At the same time, know your limits – when to push past them and when to abide by them. You can’t control everything. Things will go wrong. Be ready to adjust. Lean on your team to help you figure out Plan B.
Finally, treat everyone with respect regardless of their title, position, or job in the office and on-site. Be personable. Say “please” and “thank you”. Learn the names of people from labour, security, catering, cleaning etc. If you make an effort to remember them, they will remember you, and they too will help to make your life easier.
What makes you proud to work at RX?
The RX Operations team is incredible. We all do an amazing job and know how to execute. The last year and a half have been especially challenging for us as a team taking on new tasks related to the pandemic and ensuring our events are as safe as they can be for our guests. The leadership within this department cares about the wellbeing of the team and is so supportive and accommodating. I genuinely love and respect everyone that I have the good fortune of working alongside in Operations. Colleagues have become friends and working with friends is always fun.