All About Ambiance

Happy Birthday, Liza!

We Like to Party

Absolutely Fabulous

What the Bleepity Bleep Was in that Maple Syrup?!

Better Together

Love Shack

Thank God for Caviar

Fashion Plates

Seeing Red, and Fashion vs. Style

A Gastronomical Experience

Full Throttle


Bon Appetit

Wet Hot American Dinner Party

Girl Power!!

Give Me Flavor or Give Me Death!

Witchy Woman

Do the Chefs' Signature Dishes Translate to Signature Design Style?

Anything for Jeff Ross

Summer, Summer, Summertime

Finding Your Focal Point

A True Italian Meal

Everything But the Kitchen *SYNC

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The Importance of Nostalgia in Entertaining

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No Losers


Eternal Flame

A Real Crowd Pleaser

All About Ambiance

Jes Gordon explains the challenges of trying to draw out her clients' visions.

am·bi·ance also am·bi·ence  (mb-ns, ä-byäs) n. The special atmosphere or mood created by a particular environment:

You may have heard me say the word "ambiance" several times in this episode. It's important to understand that the best dinner parties consist of covering all of the five senses: Touch, Taste, See, Hear, and Smell. This is a major challenge for the chefs on the show simply because they are focusing mostly on how the food tastes and smells and not on the entire environment in the dining room and how it feels and looks. For many of the chefs, this is the first time in their lives they are faced with this challenge, which is why I am brought in to try and  execute any vision they come up with. I do this every day for Fortune 500 companies, brides, and non-profit organizations.

Coming up with a vision is also a challenge in itself. Though Joel won the competition (Congrats Joel!), he had an incredibly hard time envisioning the entire environment and expressing to me what he wanted his dinner party to look and feel like. He was hyper-focusing on the ingredients that were going into the menu and I came away from our short time together with two things: he wanted to use fresh herbs as part of the centerpiece on the table and that he wanted there to be an interactive game element that involved the asking of the question “If you were a teacher, what would you teach?” I liked these elements a lot but the room needed more to really WOW Rocco and his guests. I asked Joel if he was ever able to open his dream restaurant with his wife, what would it look like? He did have a little more insight to give me there, but it was vague….

One of the hardest parts of my job is to draw a client’s creative vision out of them so that I can then take it and turn it into an awesome and beautiful experiential environment. 

I usually end up becoming their therapist by the end of the day!! Folks need to dig deep to find their inner creative rock star for sure.

I knew Joel had something special in him, so I really wanted to take this high school teacher and turn him into a master of his own environment and not only stay in his comfort zone of the kitchen. 

Joel’s desire for a perfect meal and a clean “untacky” ambiance inspired me to create some much needed magic in his dining room on Rocco’s terrace.For the interactive game element, I provided mini chalkboards so his guests could write the answer to his question as they doubled as place cards for each guest. This is a great conversation starter, which acts as an important element to any successful dinner party. 

I decided to make Joel’s herbs and spices centerpiece a little more stylized by creating different heights on the table with organic tree stumps and by placing the herb and organic elements inside of beautiful glass domes or terraniums.

I wanted to create gorgeous lighting by bringing in a cool artisanal chandelier that would create a nice focal point in the room that consisted of real antique milk bottles lit with filament light bulbs with a wrought iron base. 

I thought the room needed another WOW factor so in celebrating Joel’s literal sense of design I created a “wall of spices” by using old wooden ladders, bolting them to the wall and them stacking them with masses of mason jars with different colored spices so the wall had texture and variety. 

All in the wall, I felt the room came out gorgeous and obviously Joel’s cooking matched the ambiance perfectly.


I was incredibly and pleasantly surprised by how much King led with his heart and his passion for ambiance concerning his concept for his dining room.

King had no problem expressing to me that he wanted Rocco and his guests to be “transported” into a beautiful and exotic place for his dinner party. 

If anything, King had too many ideas to fit into one environment, but honestly I had a lot to work with from King. Within moments I had a clear vision of what his room should look and feel like.  

King was so specific down to every detail: the tropical fruit, the cool blue tones in the room, the VESPA!!! And the wonderful entertaining aspect of allowing the guests to kick their shoes off literally and enjoy the evening in ultimate comfort. I decided to add a few elements in the room that would bring King’s vision full circle. I replaced the existing curtains with gorgeous organza silk blue panels. I replaced the existing wall art with a custom made abstract painting of an ocean view and I put a WOW into the rambling landscape centerpiece by adding submersible LED lights to the orchid arrangements so they would really glow during the dinner. I also used real tropical leaves instead of placemats or a table linen. I used the existing lights in the informal dining room and wrapped them with a cool blue grass paper so they looked like I had made custom tropical lamp shades for the lights.

This must have been a difficult decision for Rocco to make on this episode. Both chefs had major passion for what they love to do and their styles were completely different which was a real blast for me!

Bring the party on people!!! I am looking forward to many more challenges out of the kitchen and into the dining rooms!!

Feel free to ask specific questions regarding the creative process for these rooms and how I got to the finished product. 

Twitter: jesgordon


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We Like to Party

Jes Gordon dives deep into what throwing a party really means.

This party will continue... for all of us!!!!!

One of the most common ledges I have to talk my clients off of is something I like to call “post-party depression.” This sounds funny at first, but it is a real problem in my world, and I am often spending a lot of time convincing folks that there is not only one party to be thrown in their lives, and that there are plenty to come in the future. 

What is interesting about our show is that obviously, since it's a competition, everyone has to live in the moment and make this particular party mean everything since there is a prize at stake. What I like to concentrate on though, is that for everyone involved in the show including the contestants, the guests, Rocco, and even myself, is that the party will surely go on whereever and at any time we want it to. 

Basically people, we are free to party!!!

Something that I adore about Rocco (amongst many things) is that he values good quality time with the people he loves. He is also a huge fan of comfort, beauty, and high-end elements. Something that I learned from doing his show is that it is a true gift to those around you when you cook for them. I feel the same way about setting the ambiance of the room where that food is being served, and it’s pretty genius of Bravo to understand the importance of both and creating an outlet where Rocco and I can truly prove our points. Since I cannot cook… anything, I prefer to design environments where the two elements can harmonize together. I am still trying to convince Rocco to give me a cooking lesson some day.Why do we celebrate? Do we want presents? Do we want to get dressed up? Do we want to get drunk? Or maybe we want to find out who is most important to us in our lives….There is no right or wrong reason to celebrate -- we just all need to realize that we are lucky to do so, and that the people that show up to be with us mean so very much. We all have our reasons to celebrate and our own “party meter.” Some of us celebrate when a broken nail grows back, or if someone goes into remission from cancer, or is having a 65th birthday like Liza Minnelli, and there are no party police that step in and tell us that we are under arrest for choosing our own reasons to party. This is an area in our lives where we can escape the usual rules and just forget about our jobs, our taxes, and picking the kids up from school for a day. We also tend to allow ourselves to consume carbs and eat candy, which is certainly a valid reason to move forward into “party land."

Amongst the fun part comes the serious stuff. The quality of the party directly reflects how you feel about the guests you are inviting. Rocco is a perfectionist when it comes to this, and he is flawless in making his guests feel like kings and queens for the time they spend with him as a party host. This is a lost art. Parties have become major outlets to show off celebrities, money, and fashion. Rocco brings his party ideals back to where they belong; events that are thrown from the heart and from creating an experience from which people don't want to leave and remember long after the event. 

Being a great host is pretty exhausting. It’s like playing a very intricate game of chess for one part of the brain and then a crazy karaoke session for the other side. You are constantly insuring that your guests are happy and making conversation while worrying about the back of the house logistics and wondering if they are going smoothly. This is certainly one of the biggest challenges of my job. It is iterally a juggling marathon, and if one of the ball drops it reflects on you. Something to remember is that whatever goes on behind the scenes and can be solved behind the scenes is fine. You may be having heart palpitations, but as long as your guests don't know about the drama that is happening you are all good. Troubleshooting is a must in this biz!

We often saw Rocco having to go into the kitchen to check on the chefs and to make sure they were on target, and then he would have to go back to his guests and continue to stay cool, calm, and charming: he pulled it off, but this is not an easy thing to do. I do this every day and it's exhausting yes, but its also exciting and I am lucky to be doing it!As you entertain and celebrate more, things start to become more fluid. I can easily pick out seasoned entertainers just by how they hold themselves or make decisions. It is very rare that a chef is also an effective host; it takes an enormous amount of coordination, kind of like singing and playing the drums at the same time. What I love about this show is that the chefs didn't really know what they were getting into to a certain extent, and I feel like this experience whether they lost or won will make them better at what they do. Many of the chefs spoke of wanting to open their own restaurants some day. Well, how would they do that if they can only cook without a time limit or not think about what that restaurant would look like? I assume that many of the competing chefs from this season were thankful for this experience and from what they learned from Rocco and myself. 

The most important part of continuing to evolve as an entertainer or host is to lose the ego. If we stop learning from those around us, we will hit the ceiling pretty quickly…. I have learned so much from my clients and continue to do so. I found that a few of the chefs from the show were pretty egotistical, and I truly hope that they don't close themselves off from learning as they continue to grow in their careers and personal lives. When you are a host, the evening is about your guests and not about you. If you are good at what you do, you can put your own flair onto the experience in a subtle way and not interfere with the flow of the evening.  Many of my clients can walk into one of my events and say, “Oh this is a Jes Gordon event,” which is great, but if it's too overwhelming, then the event gets lost, and the reason for the event is forever gone and misrepresented. It’s so important to keep the right focus for any party which really comes down to making every one of your guests feel special and that the party is for them and them only. 

In terms of this last episode, I think it was fully realized that the focus of both dinner parties was on Liza Minnelli’s 65th birthday! What an amazing lady, and what an honor it was to be part of her special day, and the rest of the guests weren’t too shabby either. I enjoyed working with Lucia and Frank very much. Though Frank’s vision had me a little confused at first, everything came together phenomenally, and Lucia was focused on celebrating Liza and only Liza, which definitely came through in her room!   

I tell my clients all the time, and now I am telling you: don’t forget to have fun. At the end of the day, these are celebrations, so allow yourself to enjoy them! Follow me on Twitter, and watch for my company blog for great tips and news!

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Author: Party Like A Rock Star