I had the opportunity to meet and chat with celebrity event planner Cathy Riva.  I learned all about how to make a fabulous brunch and the most important thing….what’s in her cosmetics bag!

Please tell us a little about you. Where are you from? How long have you been a Event Planner? If you were not doing this type of work, what would you be doing?

Hi! I’m from Mobile, Alabama.  I was surrounded by southern hospitality as a was a way of life down South, so I have strong entertaining influences from my Grandparents, Mom and Aunt. They were always hosting a gathering of some kind.  I remember those events as happy times spent with family. These parties shaped how I connect to folks, even today.

Sounds like you grew up having a great time!  It’s fabulous that you were able to turn a family “hobby” into a thriving business.  Let me ask you a few questions about how you manage to look so glamorous throughout the day and during your events.

Kennedy: What’s your day and night skin care routine?

Riva: Gosh, my skin care routine is pretty boring.

My day routine is easy and fast. Off camera, I use Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, Stila cream blush, Mac eye shadow (if I have a meeting) and Tarte organic mascara. My eyeliner and bronzer are Almay or Cover Girl, I use both.

Night- I use Dove soap to wash my face and witch hazel to remove any left over products. I use Korres moisturizer. I love the weight of the night cream.

Kennedy: What products do you use?

I’m a Sephora and drug store shopper as these are the most convenient places for me to shop. I LOVE Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer and my all time favorite mascara is Tarte, both for use and packaging! See photo.

Cathy's Purse

Kennedy: What’s the one makeup product that you cannot live without?

Riva: Hmmmm… Contact lenses don’t count, right? Then probably my LM tinted moisturizer.

Peeking inside Cathy's Purse

Inside essentials:

– My ipad, essential for meetings and entertaining my young daughter on occasion.
– My MAC “Wonder Woman” lipglass in Emancipation and Lustre Marquise D
– Dr. Weil for Origins Conditioning lip balm
– My hermes wallet (a gift from a client)
– Kleenex
– Shea hand lotion from L’Occitane

And, I always try to carry fun thing for my 4-year-old daughter, so we love to play cards so there is a deck of GO FISH. And, summer sunglasses -maui jim polarized and sunscreen-kiss my face

Kennedy: Do you get monthly facials? Or visit spas regularly? If so, what’s your favorite treatment?

Riva: I think it is so important to invest in “you” time when you can. And, I’m really working hard on adding that back into my work, wife, mom routine, but I don’t go very often to the spa. Maybe once a year.

I love a great microdermabrasion, that’s a royal treat. My favorite and most desired treatment is an hour long massage.

Kennedy: What’s your daily makeup routine?

Riva: My daily make up routine takes about 15 minutes. I wash my face, add moisturizer, then my tinted moisturizer, blush, mascara and maybe a little eyeliner and shadow, if I have a meeting.

Kennedy: Do you wear makeup when you’re not in front of the camera?

Riva: I almost always leave the house with tinted moisturizer and mascara, maybe it is my southern upbringing, but I always have a little make up on.

Kennedy: Do you workout everyday? If so, what’s your daily fitness routine?

Riva: My daily workout is running after my energetic 4-year-old and then carrying her when she’s exhausted all of that energy. I get to the gym as often as I can. I also have dance party with my little one at home and do sit ups daily.

Kennedy: What makeup line(s) are you using?

Riva: I use Cover Girl, Almay, Tarte, Laura Mercier and I recently discovered Korres moisturizer- I love their night cream.

Kennedy: What’s your best kept beauty secret?

Riva: Sleep (when I can get it)

Kennedy: Which brand of hair care products are you using?

Riva: I use Pantene and whatever is in the shower. I love Frederic Fekkai’s organic hair line too.

Kennedy: What fragrances are you wearing?

Riva: I like the new “angel” fragrance from Thierry Mugler and the rose scent from Laura Mercier.

Let’s talk about what to have for a great Party!

You’ve recently signed-up with Sauza Tequila, to represent their “Ode to Brunch” Campaign, can you give us a few brunch ideas and a cocktail recipe?

Brunch is my favorite time to get together with friends. It can be casual or fancy, impromptu or planned. I enjoy the variety of breakfast and lunch food options. Here are some of my “best of” brunch hits:

Cathy's Brunch Table

Coffee-Streusel Bundt Cake (Makes 16 Servings – Prep time 30 minutes)

Items needed:

10-cup bundt pan
Streusel filling
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts or almonds
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon melted butter


11/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
11/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
11/2 cups reduced fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted softened butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites


1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water
Garnish with hazelnuts or almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 10 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.

To prepare streusel: combine 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, brown sugar and nuts, 2 tablespoons espresso powder and melted butter in a small bowl.

To prepare cake: Whisk white-whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda in a medium bowl.

Stir sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl. Beat butter, oil, and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium, until well combined.add eggs, egg whites. Add the dry ingredients then sour cream mixture and then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat on low after each addition.

Spoon half the batter into pan then add streusel and then the remaining batter. Bake the cake about an hour. Cool for 15 minutes, then turn over onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To Prepare Glaze: Add confectioners sugar and 1 tablespoon espresso liquid into a bowl, add more liquid to thin glaze to desired consistency. Drizzle over cake. Garnish with nuts.

Peach Ginger Fizz – Serve in a champagne glass (replaces a mimosa)
2 tsp ginger liquor (Canton is good)
1oz pear nectar
1oz Sauza silver tequila

Top with champagne or prosecco. Garnish with pink sugar rim or sugar coated small flower.

Sugar Rimmed Champagne Glasses

The Mama Rita
11/2 parts Sauza Silver
1/2 part Cabernet Sauvignon
1 part DeKuyper Triple Sec
1 part Agave Nectar
1 part fresh lime juice

Pour all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Shake and strain into a martini glass and enjoy.

Asparagus-Goat Cheese Soufflés – (Serves 6 / Prep time 50 minutes)
1 Bunch of asparagus (1 lb) trimmed
1 1/2 cups non fat milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 large eggs (at room temperature)
8 large egg whites (at room temperature)
1 cup crumbled goat cheese or manchego cheese

1. Fill a large skillet with 1 inch of hot water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus. Cook three minutes. Drain, dry and cut into 1/2 inch slices.

2. Use rack on lowest level of oven; pre heat to 375 degrees. Place 10-oz ramekins coated with non stick spray on a baking pan.

3. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in flour for two minutes. Turn off heat and slowly whisk in hot milk. Turn heat back on to medium low and whisk until mixture is thickined, about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Rmove from the heat and add 4 egg yolks. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and add asparagus and cheese.

4. place 8 egg whites in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer and increase speed until they begin to foam. Do not over beat.

5. Stir in one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites just until blended. Fill each ramekin with soufflé mixture almost to the top.

6. Bake the soufflés on the bottom rack until puffy and golden about 25 minutes. The centers will look soft. Do not over cook.

Kennedy: Do you have any plans to write a book on entertaining? Or possibly a television show?

Riva: I’d love to do a hard cover, home entertaining table top book with photos where I show folks how to mix and match their existing table settings(or basic table settings) with seasonal party ideas. And, how to properly use items for party decor stores and dollar stores, like Party City and Dollar Tree.

I would love to do a television show if I could find a format where I felt like my experience could inspire people to celebrate and enjoy life. I am a lot more comfortable now with my own life and I’ve found a balence where I do enjoy the moment and have fun, that is dramatically different then where I was 10 years ago, as a type A, over achievening, want everything now, lovely lady. I’m still type A, but now I enjoy the benefits of being a part of a team and letting the fun come out!

Kennedy: What’s your favorite type of event to plan?

Riva: I’m a people pleaser so any event I work on where the client is overjoyed makes me happy. I love doing children’s parties too. Their energy is so wonderful.

Kennedy: To date, what’s the most exciting event that you’ve planned?

Riva: I’ve have the pleasure of working on some very high-profile events, but my favorite is one I did for my TV show “Party Girl” for a family in New Jersey. It was a nine-year-old boy’s birthday and we created a murder mystery scavenger hunt! It was as much fun to plan as I hope it was to attend

Thank you for your time Cathy, it has been an absolute pleasure!

To get more party planning recipes and tips, visit Cathy Riva at: www.rivaevents.com