Thanks to our Editorial maven, Emily Gordon, who’s put together a recap of Groupon’s involvement at the acclaimed James Beard Foundation Awards.
Every day chefs make delicious dishes for Groupon customers (don’t forget to tip on the whole check!), but it’s not every day that we get to wait on some of the world’s coolest chefs. On May 9 at New York’s Lincoln Center, The James Beard Foundation gave out its coveted annual [awards](http://gr.pn/lcudtf). This year, there was a new garnish on the platter: We got to [sponsor the event](http://gr.pn/kZh2SV). And because—as you may have noticed—we’re partial to a certain color, we turned not only the green room but all of Avery Fisher Hall Groupon green.
Oh, and the red carpet. As celebrity chefs strode down the field-like strip, they met our own Dan Jessup, Head of People Strategy, who sported a striking green tie and traded culinary banter with many celebrity chefs including [Marcus Samuelsson](http://marcussamuelsson.com/), [Bobby Flay](http://www.bobbyflay.com/), and Chicago’s own [Rick Bayless](http://gr.pn/iDVXsY), just to name a few. Dan only regretted not getting a good quote from Mortimer and Mauve, two natty pigs dressed in tuxedos for the occasion.
At the ceremony itself, in front of an audience of more than 2,000 professional foodies plus a world of webcast viewers, Groupon SVP of Sales, Darren Schwartz, was honored to present the Best Chefs in America Awards for the Great Lakes region with Tom Colicchio from _Top Chef_. Toothsome reunions abounded; as Samuelsson told us, “I had a great time presenting… [It’s] always such a fun opportunity for me to catch up with my chef buddies and meet new talents in the industry.”
This year’s awards—co-hosted by toquemeisters Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai, and Traci Des Jardins—had as its theme “Ultimate Melting Pot.” With that in mind, we provided relaxing spaces for attendees to mix and blend like bacon cookies and bouillabaisse. In the very green green room, winners, VIPs and hosts mingled, and reporters found a welcome refuge. Honchos at home with a sharp knife concocted amusing photos via our photo booth. Loopy grins abounded, possibly thanks to our master mixologist’s specialty cocktails, gourmet cupcakes from Harlem’s [Tonnie’s Minis](http://tonniesminis.com/), and a live bluegrass banjo soundtrack by [The Two Man Gentleman Band](http://www.thetwogentlemen.com/).
Throughout Lincoln Center, Groupon stickers dotted the Lincoln Center floor. Sample mottos: “We think sauciers are the sauciest” and “We give you three stars just for being yourself.”
We couldn’t have done it without the herculean efforts of [Mark Stephen Design and Production](http://gr.pn/mqG2ea). We got a chance to speak to founder and environmental designer Mark Testa about how it all came together, how designers use Groupon, and the quest for the carpeting grail:
**Groupon**: What were some of the challenges in designing the Groupon-themed spaces?
**Testa**: One of our challenges was matching the Groupon green. Over 10 carpet samples were rejected until we found what we were looking for in Georgia. We then had it shipped five days before the event. We sourced numerous fabrics throughout New York for the right green for the drapes as well as the pillows. All were custom-made for this event. We only had eight hours to completely transform the space—including the lounge, press room, and “green carpet” arrival—so all elements had to come in pre-cut and prepared ahead of time. Even the battery-powered LED lights were a pre-programmed green. I believe when you have limitations such as time, you’re forced to be creative and look for alternative solutions with the resources that you have. The results can be even better than you thought. For example, we used picture frames with green paper as trays for the cupcakes. The Groupon team was great in the way they made quick approvals and supported our design from the start.
**Groupon**: Are you a Groupon user? What would be the perfect Groupon for a designer/event maestro?
**Testa**: I am a Groupon user. We’re always looking for discounts to furniture, housewares, and home-improvement stores—for pillows, floral, paint, furniture, hardware, carpets…we also look for access to exhibits, museums, galleries, and art books for inspiration.