Our Team



The New York Botanical Garden, a distinguished destination for New Yorkers & world-travelers alike, can host your signature special event! Exclusive culinary partner STARR Events brings the innovative cuisine of restaurants Buddakan, Morimoto, and Upland to the Garden for a truly singular experience. With endless creativity and refined style, STARR Events, operators of the Garden’s own Hudson Garden Grill, serves up flawless events with a dedicated team of onsite professionals.


JulianJulian Alonzo, Executive Chef

Chef Julian Alonzo brings a truly global culinary perspective and over two decades of industry experience to Starr Restaurants Catering Group and The New York Botanical Garden. A New York City native, Julian began his culinary career at 16 with an internship at renowned restaurant Montrachet while enrolled in City-As-School. Inspired by the precision of Chef David Bouley’s kitchen, Julian attended French Culinary Institute and was later named “Alumni Chef of the Year”. During his time, Julian honed his skills at both La Caravelle and Maxim’s under Chef David Ruggiero. After graduation, Julian continued his culinary education abroad, rigorously perfecting French technique at Guy Savoy in Paris and exploring global flavors in Martinique and Ixtapa. Julian returned to New York four years later to cook in some of the most inventive and prestigious restaurants in the city including at Brasserie 8 ½ which was lauded for its vibrant, contemporary menu created during Julian’s tenure as Executive Chef.

After praise from Crain’s New York Business and invitation to cook at the James Beard Foundation, Julian undertook a new challenge: bringing innovative restaurant-inspired fare to the world of catering and special events. At the helm of the new Hudson Garden Grill, Julian brings his New American approach of locally-sourced, globally inspired fare to The New York Botanical Garden.


AlexAlexandra Metz, Director of Catering Sales and Marketing

Alexandra Metz brings her vast Food and Beverage experience and knowledge of high-end hospitality as the Catering Sales and Marketing Specialist for STARR Events at The New York Botanical Garden.

Born and raised in Brazil, Alex received a Hospitality Management Diploma from The Swiss Hotel Association in Switzerland, and a Degree in Hospitality Management from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. In addition to Alex’s international background, she further expanded her cultural knowledge and understanding of numerous markets, spending over eight months in Sao Paulo, Brazil analyzing the special events industry.

Before joining the STARR team Alex planned, coordinated and executed events at some of New York’s most prestigious cultural institutions; from small exclusive dinners to large scale events for top Fortune 500 companies and prominent not-for-profits. In addition Alex most recently worked as a Marketing Director, rebranding a large-scale New York City catering company. A true expert in her field with over eighteen years of experience, Alex’s extensive knowledge of Food and Beverage trends, menu development, and event management, has made her an integral part of the STARR Events team at The New York Botanical Garden.


MorganMorgan Bedore, VP of Sales, Marketing, and Creative Development

Morgan Bedore brings to STARR Restaurant Catering Group a staunch professionalism, vibrant enthusiasm and innovative creativity that she has fostered throughout her career. Formerly the Director of Events for Robertson’s Flowers, Morgan was responsible for the management of the events team and creating the overall aesthetic for numerous social, corporate and private events, from lavish weddings to high-profile charitable galas such as The Lemon Ball, Melmark’s Star Ball and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Renaissance Ball. Prior to Robertson’s Flowers, Morgan was the Director of Catering at the National Constitution Center with Max & Me Catering and was integral in planning the culinary dimension for the Museum’s opening gala and Governor Rendell’s 2003 Inauguration for which she consulted on all aspects of event design from menu planning to venue décor.

A graduate of George Washington University, Morgan’s passion for cuisine, unique approach to presentation and great attention to detail have made her a major contributor to the success of STARR Catering Group.


SimonSimon Powles, President

At the forefront of STARR Restaurant Catering Group is accomplished hospitality expert Simon Powles. Prior to founding the division of STARR in 2007, Simon held a senior management position with Food For Thought, a Chicago-based special events and foodservice company and also helmed Wolfgang Puck Catering & Events, where he was responsible for substantial revenue growth in four major markets. Simon’s experience also extends to catering for prominent sites such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., as well as prestigious political and social events such as President Bill Clinton’s Second Inaugural Lunch at the United States Capitol Building and The Governor’s Ball for the 73rd Annual Academy Awards.

A veteran of the food and beverage industry, Simon has extensive special event catering, restaurant and foodservice management experience in major markets throughout the United States including Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York, Miami, and Washington, D.C.


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