About Us

Our Team

CAPE is comprised of task forces from many counties throughout the state including: Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County, Ventura County, San Francisco, Mendocino and Sonoma. These task forces are made up of some of the brightest minds in the events industry and represent many facets of the event industry including planners, venue owners, rental companies and more.

Amy Ulkutekin - President

Amy is a nationally award-winning event producer and entrepreneur who created and owns San Diego based event production / planning company Catalyst Creative and wedding planning firm, First Comes Love Weddings and Events. First Comes Love is a boutique wedding planning company based out of La Jolla. Since founding the company in 2008, she has grown it to include 5 event managers who plan, design and coordinate 80-100 weddings per year.

Additionally, she conceptualized and created San Diego’s most well attended annual beer festival – Best Coast Beer Fest. which was conceptualized in 2013 and debuted in March 2015 and showcases over 200 beers from nearly 100 breweries plus local artisan vendors, cuisine and local entertainment. Originally from Orange County, California, Amy holds a degree in marketing communications and has over 14 years of experience leading marketing initiatives and planning events.

Erin Shean Bianchi - Treasurer

Erin has been involved in the event industry for over 20 years.  She began her professional career as a paralegal, however, after planning many of the law firm’s events she realized her true calling was in the event industry.  Erin looked for a new career and started at Classic Party Rentals in sales, and later moved into management becoming the Operations Manager and then General Manager for the San Diego location.  Deciding to try a different part of the event industry, she went to work for PRA Destination Management planning corporate events.  While there she secured her DMCP, but her love of event rentals was calling.  Many of her former colleagues from Classic were now working at Bright Event Rentals and she was approached to join the San Diego team.  Erin now has her dream job working as the Business Development Manager welcoming many of her former clients, and many new ones, into the Bright family. 

Erin is a member of MPI, ILEA and NACE chapters in San Diego.  An avid sports lover and Peloton enthusiast, Erin enjoys dining out with her husband Larry or a quiet evening at home with their Bengal Sansa.

Nicole Stubbs - Secretary

Originally from Chicago, Nicole Stubbs has dedicated her entire career to the hospitality and tourism industries. She has worked along-side celebrated Michelin starred chefs and decorated service professionals. Nicole passionately led teams at some of the most prestigious restaurants and hotel properties in the country, including Wynn Las Vegas Resort & Casino, Montage Beverly Hills and Manhattan Country Club. After spending the last eight years in the private events industry in Los Angeles, Nicole is currently General Manager and Executive Producer of City Market Social House, one of LA’s newest creative event venues with capacities of up to 1000 people, located in the heart of DTLA’s Fashion District. 

Rob Pausmith - VP, Strategic Partnerships

Managing Director, Tres LA Group

Zapher Dajani

President & Founder of Dajani Hospitality Inc

Cuvier Club

Downtown Abbey Club

Garden By The C

The Abbey Catering Co

Bill Zaruka - Board Director at Large

As a teenager, Bill was recruited to work every position at the family’s Bar & Grille and developed a passion for every aspect of hospitality. It was a natural progression for him to follow in his father’s footsteps and study at The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Graduating in 1998, he then joined the food services division of Universal Studios, Hollywood, CA. As a multi-unit manager, he created budgets, wrote operating standards, implemented training programs, and led the adoption of several point-of-sale systems.

In 2001, Bill rejoined the family business, Wedgewood Weddings, and helped it expand from a handful of venues to nearly 50. He is proud to have worked every role in the company and to this day still rolls up his sleeves when he’s attending events. He leads a dynamic management team and supervises all restaurant operations. Under his leadership, sales now approach $100,000,000 with average profit percentages and customer service ratings far exceeding industry averages.

Michael Esposito

In 2010, Michael Esposito co-founded Snake Oil Cocktail Company (www.snakeoilcocktail.com), a Southern California-based beverage catering and mixology consulting firm to help elevate the craft of cocktails for select bars, special events and award-winning restaurants nationwide. Underlying Snake Oil’s work is a deep-seated respect for the five fundamentals of culinary mixology: simplicity, seasonality, quality, creativity, and taste. Headquartered in San Diego, the company manages the food and beverage services for multiple large-scale entertainment venues including San Diego Symphony Hall, The Lyceum Theatre and The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center which is home to the La Jolla Music Society. Under Michael’s leadership, Snake Oil Cocktail Company has been a five-time recipient of the San Diego Business Journal’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies award, has executed over 7,500 events and currently provides licensed beverage catering services to over 850 events per year in California. Notable events include: The TED Conference, Chefdance at the Sundance Film Festival, Comic-Con, and the annual Aston Martin experience at The Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach. Outside of events, Snake Oil Cocktail Company provides virtual mixology experiences and Snake Oil mixologists have created cocktail programs for some of the West Coast’s hottest bars and restaurants including Searsucker and Herringbone restaurants for Top Chef’s Brian Malarkey, the internationally renowned Encuentro anti-resort in Valle de Gudalupe, La Justina Gastropub in Tijuana, The Hard Rock Hotel, and Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas. In 2019 Michael Esposito founded JULEP venue (www.julepvenue.com), a 12,000 square foot event space and daily cafe, centrally located in the heart of San Diego which offers expansive flexible indoor/ outdoor spaces for private events, weddings, galas, holiday parties, corporate events, conventions, workshops, and community gatherings and serves as the corporate headquarters for Snake Oil Cocktail Company. 

TASK FORCES

SAN DIEGO COUNTY

  • Amy Ulkutekin – First Comes Love + Catalyst Creative
  • Erin Shean Bianchi – Bright Event Rentals
  • Michael Esposito – Snake Oil Cocktail Company + Julep Venue
  • Zapher Dajani – The Abbey Catering, Cuvier Club, Downtown Abbey

SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY

LOS ANGELES AND VENTURA COUNTIES

MENDOCINO / NAPA COUNTIES

ORANGE COUNTY

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

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