Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio on what marriage has tought him and where Stephen failed.

on Dec 15, 2008

Tiffani and Harold knuckled down on their dishes. Dave did the same, but he also jumped around the kitchen lending a hand wherever it was needed. This has been Dave's M.O. since day one - and is one of the reasons he is well loved by his teammates, if not necessarily respected as a cook. And when the team discovered the cocktail hour would go roughly twice as long as anticipated (thus requiring double the number of canapes) Dave was able to jump in and improvise to create more. For me the moment of truth came when I asked Scott (or was it Scott?) which part of the meal he loved and he couldn't answer. In other words, the meal was just a string of mediocre dishes. Interviews with guests led to the same conclusion - everyone was under whelmed. I felt personally let down - even embarrassed - because I had traversed the room promising a great meal, and the chefs didn't deliver. I held every one of them responsible. So when it was time to judge, I wanted to hear from the chefs themselves what had gone wrong. And to a one, they pointed to Stephen. Yet again, his grandstanding in the dining room cost the team a needed set of hands. Stephen saw himself as the crucial liaison between the kitchen and the guests, but a more experienced banquet director at the very least would have anticipated the wedding toasts and held off on firing the next course.

Marcy Blum, our guest Judge, was impressed by the waiters 'sweeping the room' (serving in unison) but truthfully - the waiters only 'swept' the head table, which looked good on camera but did little to enhance everyone's experience. And by jumping in to orchestrate service, Stephen left the hotel's Banquet Captain with nothing to do - a poor use of resources, and evidence that he lacks the confidence to delegate. Stephen truly believes that he will single-handedly "raise the bar" for the rest of us. And indeed he may - to heights of culinary and oenophilic rapture that mere people can't hope to appreciate. And when that happens, there may be diners somewhere who will happily pay to be hectored, lectured, and reminded of their inferior knowledge. But if those guests are out there, in twenty-five years on the job, I haven't met them.