Events director has
a soft spot for weddings

Bringing kalua pig to Texas
was Frances Pottorff Wong's
very first catering job

I'm the director of catering for the Royal Hawaiian. I've been here at this hotel for 8 and a half years, but I've been doing this type of work for the past 36 years.

I started out, as I think as most people in this business do, with doing waitressing work when I was at school. I think when you're 17 or 18 it's a fun job to work in a hotel and meet people from all over the world.

I was offered my first management job when I was 19. It was a drive-in restaurant in Market City.

That sounded like a challenge, and it definitely was. It was called the Wiki Wiki Burger.

I worked for the same boss, Lyman Blank, for a few years. I was married by then and my husband was in the military. When ever I'd come home from the mainland, he would let me work. I worked at Southerland ice cream parlor on Lewers and at the Reef Hotel.

When I first got into catering, it was in El Paso Texas. There were about 24 of us Hawaiians and everyone missed the food. So we prepared a complete luau. It was great for the families, just bonding together, and it exposed the people in the south west of the United States to something of Hawaii.

We tried to keep it as authentic as possible. We even made kalua pig.

Dealing with events that range from local weddings to conventions of 8,000 is the same as any other job. It's setting priorities, it's having a good team you can count on. Everyone in the company really pitches in to make sure things go well.

I always enjoy weddings. Weddings are very detailed oriented. It's gratifying to start with the couple at the first meeting. They don't even really know what they want yet. They're nervous. And I get to help guide them through the whole process.

The greatest satisfaction comes the night of the event. The wedding is over and they are absolutely ecstatic about the whole special day.

Anyone contemplating doing this type of work has to remember basically a hotel is like a hospital. It never closes. It's late nights; holidays are the busiest times. If you want a mundane 9 to 5 job, this is definitely not the area to get into.

This hotel is a wonderful place to work. It has so much history and glamour to it. It's known worldwide.

And you can't beat sitting on the lanai looking out at the ocean. One of the guests here this week said to me "You're here every day, do you take this for granted?" and I said not one day of my life do I take this for granted.

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