Harriette Rose Katz: Remembering an Icon
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch”
In a line from his epic poem If—, Rudyard Kipling could have been referring to Harriette Rose Katz. A trailblazer, legend and genius, Harriette was loved by all of us. She did indeed walk with leaders of industry and high society but respected the workers and ordinary people behind the magic she helped create. Her deep humanity, coupled by her delightful irreverence and humor, earned her the respect of our broad and diverse industry. Like my colleagues below, I shared meals, stressful party moments, touching real life moments and innumerable conversations with Harriette. She was the real deal. She leaves behind a powerful legacy which will heal our broken hearts and inspire our works for years and years to come.
Liz Neumark, CEO, Great Performances
Around four years ago I was interviewed as a “Plaza Personality” for The Plaza Hotel. One question they asked was if I could have dinner with any three people, who they would be. For me it was easy: Ghandi, John Kennedy and, of course, Harriette Rose Katz. I loved her. She was an original and had always been among the top professionals in hospitality. Our industry needs more professional planners like her. She made everyone better. Plus, I can attest that she was an incredibly fun dinner partner and a remarkable conversationalist. We had a mutual respect that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Our city was made better by Harriette and all the lives she touched. I am sure we will dine, drink and laugh again in Heaven.
Ronnie Davis, Managing Director, Great Performances
The passing of the larger-than-life Harriette Rose Katz was a shock to the event community. We were aware that Harriette had her battles after her slip and fall; however, HRK was only physically confined by the wheelchair. Her wit was intact. You only had to call the 0005 number at 8:30 pm on a mid-week evening and Harriette invariably picked up the phone, talking and laughing about life, work and the world in general.
I will miss those moments. I will miss her charm. I will miss the laughing. I will miss the lessons learned every time we spoke. Most of all, I will just miss Harriette.
There is—and always will be—only one Harriette, but her legacy will live on. She was so good at what she did and she taught everyone around her to see what she saw. So when I am hosting my next Gourmet Advisory event and the women of Gourmet are walking around with their clipboards checking off every last detail, I know Harriette is on their shoulder (and mine!)—whispering in our ears—and she will be there for many, many years to come.
B. Allan Kurtz, Managing Director, Gotham Hall
Harriette wasn’t just the queen of the event world, as everyone has mentioned in the past few weeks. To me, Harriette was someone who reached out to me when my six month old puppy, a Vizsla named Dante, was hit by a car in Ghent. I was devastated by the sudden loss and she was the only person I called after I spoke with a friend who lived near by. Harriette cried the minute I told her and she consoled me for 20 minutes, telling me about her dogs and the pain she went through when they died. From that day, every time I saw her at an event or at the Plaza, she asked how my dogs were doing. We sat for a half hour exchanging dog stories. I will forever be grateful for such a kind and elegant woman whose heart was filled with the love for animals.
Rob Arango, Director of Client Development, CPS Events at the Plaza
I had the privilege to meet and work with Harriette very early in my career and I loved working with her. I was in awe of her legendary talents and wanted nothing more than to knock it out of the park for her. While it was not easy, everything I learned listening to and watching her has had an indelible mark on my career. She took command, considered every detail, anticipated possible obstacles and made quick decisions. In equal balance, she was warm, gracious, generous, enthusiastic and appreciative of the hard work we put into her parties. She created a spirit in which every vendor on her events wanted to shine as bright as they could for her. I brought my best self to the party and knew everyone around me was doing the same.
Her passion (and knowledge) for food, from luxuriously gourmet to easy comfort food, drew me to her instantly. She was focused on food styling and presentation long before it was an industry standard. And her design creativity and wine knowledge could make your head spin. But, even more important than all the industry experience, Harriette also taught me the importance of family and being a mom. I am forever grateful for the work we did together and the relationship we had.
Joanna Nadel, Event Director, Great Performances
Harriette was just a very special person. She cared deeply about everyone she had a relationship with. In my case, she was so supportive of me when I met my husband, Sam. She said, “Baby, you just need to be happy.” After meeting Sam, she would tell me over and over, “He’s great, just great, you are a lucky man Michael.” Harriette was always interested in my personal well-being before she even looked at one buffet or tasted one hors d'oeuvre, and this is what I will always remember about her; she was a lady in the truest sense of the word, which is rarely seen today. Harriette emphasized that her success wasn’t just about her, but, more importantly, about Melissa, Claudia and her fabulous team at 0005.
Mike Warren, Director of Catering, CPS Events at the Plaza
Harriette Rose Katz truly helped shape my life. I will never forget the first glamorous wedding I worked on with her at The Waldorf Astoria with Preston Bailey. I thought she was the most elegant, yet tough, woman I had ever come into contact with. I was nervous to speak to her because I thought I would say something wrong. Little did I know she would help guide me through my decision to join the CPS Events team at The Plaza. Even though she was technically my client, she was truly a mentor, a friend and a part of our team. Harriette and I shared so many lovely moments together, mainly over trying the food and champagne at the hottest restaurants of the time in New York City. It was a passion that she and I shared. No matter how busy she was, she would always find time to talk to me because she truly believed that those of us in this industry were her family. I have learned so much about grace and elegance from her and how brutal honesty can certainly be helpful. Her presence will be greatly missed.