Girl power has entered the kitchen on this episode of Rocco’s Dinner Party, but I can honestly say that these two ladies could not be more different!! As a designer, I adore when my clients vary, it keeps me on my toes and keeps my creative juices flowing, and there is no time to be bored, that is for sure! Celebrating the differences in people is truly what often makes me tick in my career. The final products that come from variation open my mind to my constantly evolving in my life as an event producer and as a person.
As the Signature Dish Challenge was happening, there was no doubt that I was really hoping to get to work with Natalie. I just had to hear what she would come up with, or if I could truly get it out of her within our 15-minute consultation. I was also a tiny bit hesitant of working with her simply because in my experience balance is a crucial ingredient to any successful event, and Natalie didn't scream “balanced” to me! I knew that was where my expertise would be needed for Natalie’s dinner party.
An event’s environment is much like an equalizer on a stereo that is set perfectly to create the most harmonious sound throughout your event. There are different levels on an equalizer that have to work together all at once so there is a cohesive atmosphere as a result.
After meeting Vanessa, I know that she would create this balance to the evening that would ultimately bring the guests back to a calmer atmosphere, where the guests could recover. It turned out that these two very opposite personalities were successful in taking Rocco and his guests on an incredible journey throughout the evening that made them travel to opposite points of the entertaining world.
The sexy red tones, plush velvet fabrics, masses of candles, and gold chandeliers certainly set a rich and decadent vibe to Natalie’s room. I brought in mismatched plush seating to match Natalie’s erratic design patterns and the ever-famous naked fat people art pieces for the wall, which obviously helped express Natalie’s joie de vivre and her sense of humor. Celebration complements a sense of humor and vice versa. It is a time in our lives where we can go back to childhood almost, when we had no cares in the world and everything just made us giggle. I was proud that Natalie wanted to focus on this emotion as a driving factor for her design. Lord knows that being a mother of five probably contributed to that!
It’s important to remember that when you are planning an event, you are lucky to do so. We are blessed to have friends and family and a place we can entertain in. It’s not a funeral we are planning it's a party!! C’mon people!
Vanessa’s “light and cool” atmosphere caused an “ahhhhh” sensation from Rocco and his guests. The use of cool blue and green tones with that shock of yellow literally transported the guests from Natalie’s “heavy” environment much like getting out of a hot tub into a cool summer night….
Vanessa was very organized, and expressed her vision perfectly to me. The use of the aqua blue toile fabric for the table acted as a much-needed visual texture that the intimate dining room screamed for. I added some gorgeous double-toned dupioni silk curtains in two tones of blue and green to create a little shine and “bling” in the room. I didn't want Vanessa’s room to fall too flat in comparison to Natalie’s mega room. LOL!
To bring the toile fabric full circle, I used some extra pieces of it to use as tiebacks for the curtains. I also wanted to bring in some more of Vanessa’s Caribbean and Haitian vibe by hanging some installations of mosquito netting from the ceiling, and I created a perimeter of white candle lanterns and blue and yellow candles around the room. Also to break up the room a little, I used panels of cool blue grass paper to make a bold visual statement along the walls to create more of a backdrop to the environment.
Even though Vanessa was very specific about her florals, (down to the exact size of the arrangement)! no French/Haitian room is complete without some gorgeous French tulips! I was thrilled to find just enough on the flower market early that morning.
During my experience working with all of these chefs so far, I have noticed that the male and female chefs approach their designs differently.
Most of the male chefs seem to design more like picking from a visual and heavy prop inventory, which tends to make the designs more literal in most cases. This isn’t a bad thing; their designs are filled with more items like a full on movie set, which can be visually entertaining. The female chefs tend to grab from their emotions or experiences; even their dreams of what they hope their environments would be like some day. It’s like they are living out a fantasy that they have had for a long time.
At the end of the day, it's the differences between people that make this world go round, and the harmonizing of different design elements coming together in one environment makes my world go round.
Keeping that “party equalizer” balanced is a true art, and one that everyone can master if you take the time to listen, taste, see, touch and smell.
Author of: Party Like A Rock Star!