I often wonder after watching an episode, if I could design the chefs' rooms just by seeing and tasting their signature dishes.
The answer is "yes" I believe I could…. As a Designer, I like to test myself by searching for people’s signature styles without them even knowing it. Sometimes the answers come to me by looking at their clothes, visiting their homes, and seeing what type of furniture they have and especially by seeking out any piercings, tattoos, or any other form of self expression they may have; in this case cooking….
It’s a pretty intense experience these chefs are having on this show. When you think about it, cooking and designing is one of the most vulnerable positions a creative person can put themselves in and the added pressure is the awesome ca$h prize and of course Chef Rocco himself. How do you make this once-in-a-lifetime decision: putting it all on the table food-wise and all over the room décor-wise in very little time? Some of the confidence comes from experience, and it is apparent to me when someone is experienced and confident about what he or she is doing and in this case, both Corey and Nicole were incredibly secure in their design and cooking decisions. I did not have to try to extract design concepts from either chef and the challenge lies in just getting everything produced in time for their parties.
At one point in my short discussions with Corey, he actually requested a real piece of farm machinery to be placed in his terrace dining room country environment. I’m good at what I do, but it wasn’t going to happen in the amount of time I had! The idea of farm machinery lends to a lot of different avenues of expression other than actual pieces of farm equipment! I brought in cool vintage photos of farms, families, and, yes, machinery to grace the walls of the Terrace and I don’t know if you noticed this, but I covered one wall entirely in a fiber optic curtain to create a country starry sky. Coming from the city, I wasn’t quite sure what his idea of country would be, and then I felt that stars were needed in Corey’s environment after he explained he comes from the Australian countryside. Something that Corey did all on his own was to create a special parting gift for each guest that doubled as a place card: homemade rhubarb jam placed in little jars. I loved this, for me every event you throw needs to make your guests feel like rock stars and giving gifts is a great passive-aggressive way of making them never forget you long after the party is over!
I love that Corey wanted the food and the décor to constantly surprise and entertain his guests. His long list of offerings for food and drink during the course of the evening equally matched the enormous assortment of design elements I placed in the room. All in all, the room was very stimulating on all levels, and when folks are seated at a dining table for a long period of time, it's smart to make sure they don’t run out of things to talk about.