Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi reflects on Ted Allen's party, and the difficulties of catering for a crowd.

on Dec 14, 2006

Also the gross miscalculation of how much food her team would need to feed the guests sunk that team before it even got started. They were told that they had to feed 200 guests for a two-hour cocktail party. This holiday season, when many will be celebrating, count the number of little appetizers you pop into your mouth. I bet it's a lot more than you think. I know that I can put away anywhere from 1/2 -2 dozen the first hour and then maybe 5-12 the second hour, depending on how heavy they are, and how hungry I am.

A cocktail party is always just before dinner, when everyone is starving. And most of us don't want to (rightly) drink on an empty stomach. So you'll need a lot. So given a conservative estimate of say, my pace of consumption at the event, for 200 guests you would need 2,400 little canapes. I don't believe they came close to that number. Also, their table looked anemic. And the food was not coming out in a timely fashion. They did not put the guests in a festive, holiday mood. I will say that those strawberries were scrumptious, and I did eat many of those, well, as many as I could get my hands on that is.

Elia also suggests gaspacho. Which is ill advised at a holiday party. I am not a fan of drinking a cold, creamy liquid at that time, unless it is eggnog. I know she meant to do what she thought people would like based on her own experiences, but even when my colleague Tom went to check on them and made remarks which, had they chosen not to disregard, could have helped them save themselves somehow. They were unmoved, and unaffected and didn't listen to him, even though they knew his opinion carried 25% of the weight of the judges final decision. Again, a lack of consideration for other palates. I think this team just had an awful day at work. It happens to the best of us, it was just unfortunate for them that that day had to occur in such a beautifully cinematic location with 200 people in the office.