Reza & Georgia Rafati – Founders
Reza and Georgia, founders of Rafati’s Catering Inc., have been high-end restaurateurs since the early 1970s. Reza brings decades of experience that start with seven years at the renowned Canlis Restaurant located at the top of Portland’s Hilton Hotel, where he served the last four years as the General Manager. Reza moved on to establish the Royal Exchange and Cricket Cage Restaurants at the former Georgia Pacific Building in downtown Portland.
In 1983, Reza and Georgia together opened Rafati’s On The Waterfront Restaurant. Located on Southwest Front Avenue (now Naito Parkway) between Salmon and Taylor streets, it became the downtown destination for diners before and after cultural events, as well as a lunch hot spot. Rafati’s On The Waterfront earned a reputation for its innovative local cuisine, outstanding service and extensive wine list.
Rafati’s On The Waterfront was only the second restaurant in Oregon to win the coveted Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine for its outstanding wine list. Subsequently Rafati’s has received the prestigious “Best of” Award of Excellence in consecutive years through 2010 from Wine Spectator.
Georgia holds a long association with both the International Catering Association and
Catersource, currently acting as a moderator of the Catersource Forum, which is the
premier information resource for professional caterers around the world.
Nazli Karimi – Senior Event Manager
Nazli’s passion for event planning and production was spurred early in her undergraduate years at the University of Oregon, where she obtained degrees in International Communications and Spanish. Coordinating events for programs both domestically and abroad, Nazli flourished in fast-paced and changing arenas. Internships and study abroad programs in Germany and Southern Spain imbued her passion for the culinary arts. After graduating Cum Laude from the UO, Nazli returned to her hometown, Portland, and began working for CRG Events. She produced trade shows and product launches for Microsoft across the nation. While she triumphed in the corporate arena, Nazli wanted to align her career goals to better serve the members of her community so she joined Rafati’s Catering in 2006. Here, her attention to detail, creative spirit, enthusiasm, hospitable approach and ability to anticipate her clients needs have garnered her a reputation of being fun to work with while flawlessly executing her clients visions.
Lee Collins – Creative Director
Lee is an Oregon native who brings more than 15 years of catering, restaurant and marketing experience to Rafati’s Catering. Lee came to us from Whole Foods Market where he thrived as the Marketing and Community Relations Team Leader. At WFM Lee won numerous awards for his creative merchandising and thoughtful store design, including national recognition for his work with the Whole Planet Foundation and Green Mission team. Lee has a passion for all things aesthetic including interior design, graphic design and culinary arts. At Rafati’s he brings big ideas to life! Whether it’s a corporate extravaganza or an intimate wedding, Lee creates events that your friends and family will be talking about for months afterwards!
Leslie Best – Sales Manager
With an extensive background in sales management, Leslie has been with Rafati’s Inc. since 1982. Responsible for booking venue and off premise special events, Leslie has a record for bringing such diverse events as presidential visits, corporate world sales meetings, holiday parties, weddings and film crews to the company. Leslie delights in maintaining relationships with many clients who have been booking with her for decades. When you ask her what she loves most about her work – her answer is a quick, “the people!”