I want to thank my parents for all the life lessons they taught me. As much as I might've kicked and screamed all along the way, I did learn a lot of lessons about being a self-starter and staying motivated, especially from my father. Dr. Murray Politz was thought of not as an entrepreneur, but as a podiatric surgeon. However, I believe he truly was an entrepreneur, and medicine was his tool and his craft. The practice that he built grew because of his marketing abilities. He acquired great medical expertise, but it was because of his drive and ingenuity as an entrepreneur that he built such a fantastic practice and was able to retire at 53 years old.
I learned from him that it is about being of service. Whether you're talking about a patient in a doctor's office or a customer in a restaurant, it is all about being of service with a smile. My mother, Betty (Cookie) Politz, was a registered nurse, and they started the practice together. Patients would travel to see my parents in the office and chat with them about their family and ours. When I was younger, not a day went by that I didn't come across a patient who told me how they loved my mother's smile or that they used to see me in the office as a baby and how my father fixed their feet. That is the true testament of a great businessman.
I had many friends in the restaurant business, and they became great mentors. Neil Segal and his sons Devon and Noel had a significant equipment distribution business in the Washington, D.C. area. I learned a lot from them about the industry. That was probably the prime reason I started Food & Beverage Magazine, because they showed me how there was an underserved target market for hospitality information.
When I first started publishing the magazine, it was with great fortune that I met a television icon who was vital to the food and beverage industry and helped launch the Food Network. His name was Robin Leach, of the iconic television series Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. He truly took me under his wing and navigated me through the hospitality world. He filled me with all the knowledge of publishing that he learned from working with media powerhouse Rupert Murdoch. He did it with open arms, opening doors, and no ego involved.
One of the many great things Robin did to open doors was to introduce me to Chef Wolfgang Puck. Wolfgang handed me a huge binder of all of his vendors and told me to reach out to them and tell them that he was my friend and together we were building my magazine. It was a very kind thing for him to do. This is one way I grew my magazine with inside information and valuable insights into the food and beverage industry.
Robin also introduced me to the great restaurateur Piero Selvaggio. Among his numerous awards for his many restaurants, Valentino was named the Best Italian Restaurant in America. There were times when I would speak at early morning lectures at trade shows, and to my surprise, I would look up, and Piero would be sitting in the back row of the room, showing me his support. At the time, I was green and didn't know what I was doing, so I faked it until I made it. There he was, sitting in a room at 7:30 a.m. Piero had gotten up early just to watch me speak and support me. Those are the things that really demonstrate the kindness and support of the hospitality industry.
My gratitude goes to the James Beard–honored innovator and matriarch, Elizabeth Blau. Of all the gifts, lessons, and memories Elizabeth has given to me, none is more precious than introducing me to my best friend, my brother Chef Kerry Simon, whom we lost all too soon to the devastating disease MSA.
I met Kerry when he and Elizabeth, one of the world's most respected restauranteurs and leaders in our industry, opened their restaurant at Peter Morton's Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. I met Kerry because of Elizabeth's personal invitation to the opening night of Simon's Kitchen and Bar. Our bond was immediate and eternal. Kerry and I spoke nearly every day. The expression, “May his memory be for a blessing is the narrative of my life,” fits very well. Every day I remember Kerry, my brother, and every day I am blessed. This book is an expression of my limitless memories of Kerry. Thank you to Elizabeth for doing that introduction for me and making me a part of Kerry's life and allowing me to learn and grow. I've met a lot of wonderful people through her friendship, and along with Kerry, I built some beautiful lifelong relationships.
The unending support of friends such as restaurateur Gary Canter of the legendary Canter's Deli in Los Angeles and rockers Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot and Vince Neil of Motley Crue has added a great deal to my life. All have gone above and beyond to make sure Food & Beverage Magazine is at the forefront of everything they do in the industry.
Legendary boxer Mike Tyson and his wife Lakiha are my dearest friends. There have been many occasions when Mike and his wife have opened doors for me and introduced me to very high-profile people, kindly telling them that I am an important person to know in the restaurant business. There have been occasions when we dined at restaurants together, and the chefs have sent out multiple specialty dishes. Mike likes to selflessly tell me that we are getting special treatment because I am so important to the industry, while I am honored that he says this. I think we all know that the chefs are sending out the food to impress him. His friendship and influence have helped me in ways I can't begin to list.
Three special friends, Michele Tell, Debbie Hall, and Jennifer English, have been instrumental in writing this book. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to really pinpoint and dial in on the whys and whats of all I have learned and then been able to express the concepts properly. I met both Michele and Debbie at the Las Vegas launch party of Food & Beverage Magazine in 2001. Michele is the owner of an award-winning PR agency that pushes the PR envelope: Preferred Public Relations. Debbie is an editor, writer, broadcaster, and foodie who has lived in Las Vegas since 1978. Jennifer is a James Beard award-winning journalist and a powerhouse in the food and beverage world. Jennifer and Debbie both helped push me to the max of my knowledge for the book, sharing their knowledge and expertise about different aspects of the food and beverage industry.
I would additionally like to recognize the family and friends who have helped to support and inspire my entrepreneurial spirit: my sister Dr. Jodi Politz and brother Brian Politz, my uncles Eugene Sandler and Herbert Kaufman, my aunts June Mandel, Natalie Sandler, and Gerry Kaufman, and my cousins Stephan Kaufman, Rene Sandler Esq., Mark Sandler, and Mark Mandel.
I want to thank my friends who have listened to my crazy business ideas for too many years to count: Kenny Rose, Ricky Fangonil, Julian Radice, Lucie McKay, David Sims, Brett Orlove, Collin Millington, Terry Hart, Bryan Bass, Liza Taarud, Mason Martinez, Gary Coles, and Randi Ploff.
I need to thank Alec Shankman and Simon Green from Abrams Artists. Thanks also for the expert help and guidance of my Wiley publishing team including Brian Neill and Vicki Adang. I also want to thank Jon Lovitz, Janie Hoffman, Michael Godard, Wyland, Steve Kaufman, Jon Orlando, Kai, Fiji, and Damon Elliott for always helping me understand my artistic and creative flows.