Social Breakfast

The Ritz hosts SocialMiami and friends


By Melanie Cohen


The Ritz-Carlton's elegant ballroom

Every day a ton of information comes across our desks at SocialMiami as we exchange endless phone calls and emails with staff people from nonprofits and owners and managers of local businesses.

So Michele Sadkin – SocialMiami’s Charity Liaison - and I decided to spend this summer getting to know the people we talk to and email and really find out what they and the organizations they represent are doing and planning for the upcoming 2011-12 season.

We enlisted the help of Monica Ciffoni, Director of Catering Sales at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, who graciously agreed to host a breakfast for SocialMiami and friends.

When I met with Monica to plan the breakfast, I was immediately struck by the friendliness of the hotel staff. It’s one of the brand’s smaller, boutique hotels and actually has more residences than hotel rooms. Very elegant and inviting as well.

We decided that breakfast would be served in the hotel’s private dining room, the Bizcaya, a space that is tucked away within the main dining room and is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner for 12 to 14.

Our guest list was based primarily on where invitees’ offices were located. An 8 a.m. breakfast is an early call. The mix was random with no connections outside of geography.

Convening over coffee and juice, we were surprised that none of our guests knew each other. It didn’t seem to matter as they got caught up in the camaraderie, exchanging cards and talking about collaborating on future projects. And all had nothing but raves about the sumptuous breakfast planned for them by the Ritz-Carlton’s Executive Chef Khaled Ibrahim who came by to welcome the guests.

Breakfast was a three-course affair, beginning with fresh seasonal fruit served with a honey-mint yogurt sauce. Next, an egg white frittata with wild mushrooms and spinach, accompanied by herb roasted potato, jumbo asparagus and bacon; followed by the pièce de résistance – brioche French toast, berry compote and the cutest little individual jars of syrup on each plate.


"Put on Your Pink Bra" and take a walk
with American Cancer Society


The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove often holds galas, luncheons and meetings in its ballroom. With a runway or dance floor, the room seats about 300, and for events with tables only, about 350. There are several small break-out rooms as well. The ballroom has its own entrance so an event can make an impact from the moment guests step out of their cars. And with just one ballroom, all of the staff’s attention is on that one event.

There’s also a small, more intimate space in the hotel that can hold up to 50 people for a cocktail reception or dinner. The Amadeus Bar is very cozy and elegant with a fireplace, private terrace and a built-in bar.

From the valet guys to the front desk people, the restaurant manager and wait staff, everyone at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove made SocialMiami’s breakfast event top-notch.


Attending were:

Paulina Munoz from American Cancer Society who told us about the upcoming “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk,” set for October 9th in both Miami-Dade (at Midtown) and Broward (Huizenga Plaza) Counties. This year the walk’s theme is “Put on Your Pink Bra.” Imagine the sea of women and men decked out in outrageously decorated pink bras walking through Midtown. A photographer’s dream!
ACS’s cancer walk isn’t a race, but a celebration of survivorship, and an occasion to raise funds to help find a cure for breast cancer. The pink bra symbolizes how personal the fight against breast cancer is and how it touches all of our lives.


A "Little" and a "Big" sharing time together

Linnell Bickford, Development Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the oldest and largest mentoring organization in Miami-Dade County. Everything they do is simply all about the children, pairing them up for a one-to-one relationship that is built on trust and friendship. The vision is simple – successful mentoring relationships for all children who need and want them, contributing to better schools, brighter futures and stronger communities for all. Nationally, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves over 200,000 children, ages 6 through 18, in 5,000 communities across all 50 states. The goal: to serve one million children!

Mindy Cassel, Ph.D., Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Children’s Bereavement Center, a 13 year-old nonprofit that provides Peer Support Groups for children, teens and young adults and their families who are grieving the death of a loved one. The CBC currently operates on the campus of Ransom Everglades but is adding a program of services at Miami Country Day this year and will add services next year at Mailman Segal Center for Human Development (MSC) in Broward.

Elizabeth Duprey and Janel Kuhl from Coconut Grove Gallery & Interiors, a 15,000 square foot gallery chock full of unique art, furniture, home décor and tabletop accessories, custom-made options for linens and window coverings, and personal and corporate gifts in every price range. The gallery has been around for 26 years and holds monthly art exhibitions, as well as weekly informal wine and cheese gatherings every Wednesday night. Coconut Grove Gallery & Interior also does framing, a service that’s close to the heart of owner Sheila Kuhl, who is a watercolorist. Sheila also is very involved in The Vizcayans and is serving as the group’s vice president for the coming year.

Hebrew Homes Foundation’s VP of Development and Communications Ilene Zweig, who represents Plaza Health Network and its fundraising arm Hebrew Homes Foundation. The Network is comprised of seven rehabilitation facilities and skilled nursing facilities located around Miami-Dade County, of which five of the seven enjoy 5-star ratings by the U.S. Government Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services. Founded in 1954, Plaza Health Network currently serves more than 900 residents with the motto “the right care at the right time in the right place with dignity and respect for each and every resident.” The Foundation hosts an annual event titled "Women of Distinction and Caring."

Cameron Sisser from the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, fresh from a very successful Lighthouse Legislative Luncheon hosted by the Young Professionals of the Lighthouse. Underwritten by Flagler Development Company, sixteen elected officials and more than sixty young professionals attended the luncheon and took a guided tour of the facility after lunch, including the Heiken mobile eye exam unit and the STAR and Transitions Summer Camp Programs. Board member Augustin Arellano, Jr. welcomed the guests and Miami Lighthouse President and CEO Virginia A. Jacko spoke to the group about the importance of the Florida Legislature and how it helps change the lives of the visually impaired.

Seraphic Fire’s Mike Burgess who shared an astonishing fact about Seraphic Fire’s performances. If you are under the age of 30, you can attend any of their performances for free! Developing new and younger audiences is the goal, and as Seraphic Fire celebrates its 10th season, it’s obviously working. Their season is comprised of eight concerts performed in five venues in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Under the direction of Patrick Dupré Quigley, Seraphic Fire will reunite audiences’ favorite singers at its special celebratory performances in January, 2012, as it commemorates a decade of music-making.