Residence Inn Has a New Elevated Dining Program and it’s Awesome

Over the past year, I’ve been working on expanding my brand to cover travel and food – two of the most fun experiences for mankind. In order to do so, I’ve started working with hotels that offer great food. It’s a win-win. My latest collaboration was with Residence Inn, who happened to recently elevate their wining and dining program with a Food Truck event called Residence Inn Mix, and I’m very impressed.

While the NYC Residence Inn locations don’t have the RI Mix programs, I was lucky enough to get a taste with a once in a lifetime event. I celebrated with Residence Inn at their Mixed Refreshed Food Truck battle event here in New York, where they had great food from all over the world and 2 food trucks battling it out to be tasted and judged. I was one of the judges, so my job was particularly fun as I tasted schnitzel and fish and chips in front of everyone.


Aside from the German and British food trucks, there was also a pretzel stand.


There was also an international candy bar. Yes, candy from all over the world.


I grew up playing squash and one year I went to Edinburgh and a small town in England to play in the Scottish and British Opens. That year, I became obsessed with foreign candy and I started to collect all of the cool candies from other countries. So, needless to say, this candy bar at the Residence Inn’s event made me quite nostalgic and extremely happy.


The timing of this event was also perfect because I just spent 7 days in the U.K. eating food in Yorkshire, Edinburgh and London. The food at this event was on par with all the great food I tried while I was away. During my trip, I bounced around from restaurant to restaurant to taste some of the U.K.’s best food. I was very impressed with the food at the Residence Inn event as it was of such great quality and tasted very authentic. Not some wanna be fish and chips! The real thing. And yes….that candy…so good….

What’s really cool about the Residence Inn’s new RI Mix program is that each cuisine stays authentic to it’s roots and it gives people a chance to mingle, network, eat and drink, all in the comfort of their hotel. It makes traveling that much more fun to stay somewhere that keeps the cuisine authentic and delicious. Can’t wait for my next trip!

Holiday Hacks with Ocean Spray

I’m a fall person. There’s no doubt about it. I’m such a fall person that I spent the first day in November submerged in a cranberry bog eating Thanksgiving dinner a month early while wearing a plaid shirt and wader suit. You think I’m making this up? No. I seriously was given the opportunity live my wildest autumn dreams with Ocean Spray. And it was awesome.


As a “foodie,” fall is a very important time of the year for me. It’s finally a socially acceptable time to whip out the pumpkin spice. We go from “back to school healthy” recipes to extreme candy on Halloween. Then, it’s Thanksgiving. The holy grail of food holidays. The one day a year where you can actually comfort yourself with food and no one will really judge you for it. Needless to say, I like Thanksgiving. However, what I’m not too fond of, is the prep. My family usually does an untraditional Thanksgiving, like going to Palm Beach and eating Italian food, or just going out to eat. We aren’t really good at making the whole feast part. Usually, we cop out and go to my country club for Thanksgiving brunch. That’s a hoot.

This year, we’re still going to Thanksgiving brunch. But after attending the Ocean Spray cranberry bog Thanksgiving Bootcamp, I think I may have to convince my family to sit down and let me whip up brunch.

What I didn’t tell you about my time in the cranberry bog is that I learned tons of tips and tricks from Ocean Spray’s team (or as they like to call it, #AskCranMa) on how to host a perfect Thanksgiving. If you’re wondering what CranMa is, it’s Ocean Spray's play on Grandma. Yes, they are punny. Ok think of your Grandma in super duper Thanksgiving prep mode -- that's CranMa. CranMa is the ultimate Thanksgiving hostess with the mostess and she’s giving all the tips (especially when it comes to cranberries, she knows best.)


They taught everything from how to brine your turkey to creating easy and fun table settings. Here were my main takeaways that I will be doing this year:

The Cranberry Cocktail


For all of you who like delicious and easy crowd-pleasing recipes, this is for you! Swap out your wine for a nice cranberry cocktail. The sweet, tangy notes hit all the right spots when paired with any of your Thanksgiving dishes. Honestly, that’s the beauty of cranberry. It truly goes with everything: turkey, stuffing, dessert, you name it. Just use the Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail, vodka of your choice and fresh cranberries (or sugared cranberries) if you’re feeling fancy and want to garnish.

The Edible Table Setting 

You don’t have to be a magical interior design wizard to make your Thanksgiving setup look fancy shmancy. The CranMas at Ocean Spray’s Thanksgiving Bootcamp taught me that you can put fruits, vegetables and flowers into your table setting display. Just find a vase, get some Styrofoam and some rods to poke the fruits and vegetables. Stick each one in the Styrofoam and after, like, 10 minutes, you’ve got yourself a cool decoration. (And you can eat it, too.) You can also do this with cranberries! Crazy!


Get Creative With Your Leftover Cranberry Sauce


 This is the biggest takeaway for me. I love cranberry sauce and I will never let it go to waste. The CranMas gave me the best holiday hack of all: use your leftover cranberry sauce on pancakes! Genius. I’m making my own recipe, coming soon.

Turkey Techniques


have always been intimidated by the whole turkey trussing process. Thanksgiving boot camp taught me that I shouldn’t be. In 15 minutes, I got an entire lesson on how to truss a turkey, brine a turkey and then stuff a turkey to get lots of flavor.


Needless to say, I’m inspired. Can’t wait to convince my family to let me whip up some Thanksgiving bites for them.

First-time Thanksgiving host? Have questions on how to make your dinner perfect? Chat with CranMa anytime on the Ocean Spray Facebook page;

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ocean Spray®. The opinions and text are all mine.