I just got back from a fabulous week in Washington D.C. The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) http://digitalwpc.com/ is my favorite event of the year for a few reasons: it lays the groundwork for the next fiscal year for Microsoft's partner initiatives (which are near and dear to my heart as I love partners), I get to see so many colleagues/friends that I don't see very often and its always been on or around my birthday week.
I realized that I've been working on this event since it changed from Fusion to WPC, nine years ago. How time flies….
That first year (2003), I was working for SharePoint team partner product manager Zoltan Deak and we introduced the concept of a "partner theater" to what was then being called the "Microsoft Office System" for both Microsoft TechEd & WPC that year. It was the first time Microsoft gave partners a forum to speak on the expo hall show floor. Having a degree in Theatre, I can’t help but bring a kiss of the theatrical to everything I touch. The concept of a "theater" for partners remains strong today and has been adopted by many others. We innovate this concept every year and a huge Partner Theater was added by the WPC event itself on the Expo hall floor.
Every conference/tradeshow we plan always comes with a myriad of parties and dinners that we plan in parallel. D.C. holds its own with celebrity chef choices, including Charlie Palmer, Richard Blais, Eric Ziebold, Michel Richard and many more…. Eclectic eats in Adams Morgan, Utopia (artsy and great pasta), and one of the best hole-in-the-wall live music venues - Madam's Organ touts “Sorry, Were Open” in red neon, bringing in a crowd you are forced to dance with cheek to cheek and give late night confessions. My favorite place to have a nice dinner - Mie n Yu is in vibrant and collegiate Georgetown. Our last night, we happened upon Kinkead's in Foggy Bottom and the service was stellar and my scallop dish was crazy good. For my birthday dinner we went to Napoleon, a lovely french bistro, where the moules and frites were fantastic and champagne cocktails divine.
For the official partner dinner planned by my team, we chose Art & Soul, celebrated two-time James Beard-Award winning Chef Art Smith's modern/Southern locavore restaurant located in the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill. Art & Soul has a lovely patio and a chic modern private room that can hold up to 60 comfortably. The ambience and the staff were superb – the food, well, some might say -- was soulful.
The "arugula" ended up being spinach - regardless the salad with watermelon pickles, goat cheese, almonds and a blackberry ale vinaigrette was outstanding. Other than the lettuce deviation, the food was "tablesmacking" good. The ribeye and creamed spinach were cooked to perfection. The meal was brought to a sweet end with a board of mini-cupcakes – the perfect small bite accompanied by espresso drinks to give guests the strength to go onto all the rest of the events of the evening.
Other venues that I liked we're P.O.V. @ the W Hotel - you can't beat the view, Microsoft global partner Neudesic threw a classy cocktail party up there. The IW team & U.S. Partner team had a receptions at the Newseum which was quite lovely and had amazing passed hors d'oeuvres (lobster rolls & steamed veggie potstickers). KnowledgeLake, Fujitsu and Global 360 hosted a fun happy hour at Buddha Bar DC - this just opened in May venue stood up to its Parisian & NYC MePa flagship spaces.
People ask me all the time - how do you find your party venues and restaurants… **I recommend...
- Have passion for amazing food & to love to travel
- Watch Top Chef and the Food Network
- Use Zagat & OpenTable, they are great resource tools
- Join Yelp.com - Opinions from the people
- Ask a local or look for local food blogs
**Hire us to help you - we know what to look for and how to turn what you envision into a reality
Happy Summer & Cheers!
Owner & Head Maven
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference City History and Future
2011 – Los Angeles, CA
2010 - Washington D.C.
2009 - New Orleans, LA
2008 - Houston, TX
2007 - Denver, CO
2006 - Boston, MA
2005 - Minneapolis, MN
2004 - Toronto, Ontario
2003 - New Orleans, LA
1996 - 2002 - Fusion