Jamie Peha gets to do what she loves best — work with food and wine.
Jamie started Peha Promotions, her food and beverage marketing and PR business, seven years ago. This former hospitality major at WSU managed restaurants for 20 years before becoming marketing director for the Washington Wine Commission, back when there were only 80 wineries in our state.
“I got to wear many hats,” she recalls, while watching the industry grow.
From there she took a position at Seattle Magazine, where she produced events — about 150 just in her first year.
“All those things together.” She says, “media, restaurants, marketing, all came together to create Peha Promotions.”
The “lifelong foodie” grew up on Mercer Island. Her father owned Ness Florists, so family life was event-oriented, but he also enjoyed eating out and Jamie was “introduced to great food at a young age.”
The day we spoke, Jamie was focused on the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, a tasting event that benefits the Giving Grapes Foundation. The Feb. 26 event at Seattle Center is open to the public and even includes a mashed potato bar (www.seattlewineandfoodexperience.com).
While serving on the boards of Les Dames d’Escoffier (a philanthropy of women in food, beverage and hospitality) and the Washington Wine Industry Foundation, she calls the Auction of Washington Wines that funds charitable care at Seattle Children’s “my favorite event.”
Jamie joins “chef-in-the-hat” Thierry Rautureau for a twice-monthly radio show, “Table Talk” on KKMW-AM 1150 the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 8 a.m. You can listen anytime, and read Jamie’s blog at www.tabletalkradio.net.
The Mercer Island High grad is married to Benson Grinspan. They like to travel, going “to New York as often as we can,” she says, as well as cook and entertain — especially family. In the kitchen, Jamie makes what she likes to eat.
“I love Jewish food,” she says.
Her matzoh ball soup is “awesome” (oh, I think the gauntlet has been thrown down) and she’s mastering Sephardic pastelies, savory meat pies, a link to her Rhodes heritage.
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For 20 years, Steve Katz and Audrey Fine and their kids have vacationed with Steve’s extended family in December. At first, Audrey says, these were sedentary trips where parents could plunk down somewhere and watch the little kids play.
As those kids got older, now aged 14 to 25, more adventurous trips were planned. This past December, the family journeyed to Cuba on a religious mission.
U.S. travelers to Cuba need a license and a purpose for the trip. License categories range from cultural to journalistic to business-related, as well as the religious visa.
The family — three of four Katz siblings, spouses and kids, plus Steve’s parents—flew out of Miami on a charter. The 16 constituted a tour group and rode on a state-sponsored guide and bus the entire week.
“There is tourism,” just “not many American[s],” and their guide was “fabulous…candid and open and talkative,” she says.
The family visited four Jewish communities, including two in Havana where they attended a Hanukkah party and Shabbat services, and viewed a Holocaust exhibit.
Often on vacation, “you meet people who work in the tourist industry, but not real people who live there,” Audrey says. “[We] really got to meet Jewish Cuban people.”
Bringing aid was part of their licensure, including “toys, craft supplies, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, office supplies, clothes,” says Audrey. (Basic goods are lacking because of the U.S. embargo and collapse of the Soviet Union.) Their two younger kids, Mitchell and Sophie, collected items at the Northwest School. Their oldest son Adam brought baseball hats and baseballs to give away, which proved popular.
About 1,200 Jews remain in Cuba, down from 15,000 before the revolution. A few young people occasionally leave for Israel and on occasion a Cuban young adult participates on a Birthright Israel trip.
The Katz clan visited a congregation outside Havana in the process of building a small synagogue, “about the size of an average American living room,” Audrey told me, and met members of another congregation with no building. Only one Cuban congregation is affiliated (Orthodox) and none have a rabbi. An Argentinean or Chilean rabbi comes about twice a year to perform necessary rituals for the community.
Audrey’s favorite part of the trip was music, which was “everywhere…live jazz, salsa.” Saddest was the beautiful but crumbling buildings surrounded by scaffolding, but unrepaired because of lack of supplies. Most bizarre, she says, was the two-currency system with special tourist money.