by Elisa Ludwig
Every now and then, Frog gets called up for a fantasy catering job—the kind that allows the staff to build an entirely new world for one night. Such was the case when HBO asked Frog to create their Westworld party at The Franklin Institute, celebrating the show’s second season premiere on April 21.
“It was exciting putting this together. Both Steve (Poses) and I are big fans of the show so we really jumped into this!” says account executive Ali McCarthy.
To set the stage and create a convincingly Western look, Ali sourced furniture and décor from AFR Furniture Rental, Vision Furniture and Bobby Morganstein Events. “It needed to look authentically western without being hokey, so we went for pieces that were really handsome,” she says.
The concept was for guests to enter Pepper Hall and feel as though they were transported into the Mariposa Saloon from the show. Whiskey barrels, bales of hay, a steer’s head and cactus plants complemented four vignettes of brown distressed suede couches coffee tables and cowhide rugs. In one corner there was an upright piano, with a pianist who played the show’s music. HBO created a photo station in which the pictures came out like old-time Wanted ads. “We had two large wooden bars on either side of the room, and HBO gave the pianist, bartenders and their staff Western outfits to wear for the event, which they got to keep afterwards!”
On the other side of the room in the corner was a whiskey tasting station set up by sponsor Westward Whiskey, complete with branded whiskey glasses. The evening’s signature cocktail included Westward Whiskey, root beer syrup, club soda, and a lemon speared with an arrow garnish.
In the Patent Library, guests could wait in line to take a personality test at a bank of iPads, and based on the outcome would be given a character and either a white or black Stetson hat to wear before posing in a step and repeat.
Steve himself created the menu, taking item names directly from the show: Ghost Nations corn and smoked bacon fritters, Elsie’s buttermilk fried chicken tenders, Logan’s shrimp and grits, Shogun Samurai rice crisp with cured salmon and Theresa’s vegetarian Eden burger with barbecue sauce and caramelized onion. Guests moved from the butlered hors d’oeuvres to small plate stations that included “Teddy’s Chuck Wagon” with pork barbecue, baked beans and wilted greens, and “Wyatt’s Campfire” with grilled beef sliders, southwest slaw, house made potato crisps and Texas hot sauce. The meal concluded with Delores’ Sweet Endings and Coffee Bar:
Angela’s sarsaparilla ice cream floats, Hector’s churros and Lee Sizemore’s warm bourbon-pecan bread pudding with caramel sauce.
The event, attended by 280 people, was a resounding success. “Honestly, being such a fan of the show was the coolest part,” Ali says. “It was so fun to come up with details that would help make the experience even better for our guests.”