Tom Colicchio

Tom has two simple rules for cocktail parties, and he's telling you.

on Dec 13, 2006

The results were fairly disastrous. Although the Black team's hors d'oeuvres were tasty and skillful, guests grew bored with the meager selection and quickly drifted back to the Orange team's table. At times, the team simply didn't have food ready -- a big problem at a cocktail party, where people shouldn't be asked to wait. In my opinion, Elia's ego got in the way. Choosing to make only four items was a self-centered decision. (By that I don't mean a selfish decision -- she wasn't out only to please herself -- but one that originated in her own psyche, as opposed to that of her guests.) Sadly, four items -- even perfect, delicious, beautifully executed items - were not enough. And worse, her decision to make the hors d'oeuvres a  la carte meant that she could never get ahead of her guests' appetites, or even just keep up.

The Orange Team, on the other hand, understood the challenge. They came up with an ambitious list of hors d'oeuvres, and then set out to make them skillfully and intelligently. They managed their resources in such a way that there was enough food at all times, which gave their table a pleasing aura of holiday abundance. They even budgeted for table decorations, which helped give their offerings a professional, upscale feel. The food was respectable -- some of it was even very good -- but more importantly, overall they made the guests happy and delivered the "wow" factor we asked for. Sam showed leadership right from the start by asking Betty and Marcel to put away their differences, which I was glad to see them do. Both he and Ilan are used to putting their heads down and getting to work, so it made sense for them to be the workhorses behind the scenes during the party, while Betty -- who has demonstrated a knack for connecting with guests - served the food with Marcel. It seemed as though Sam was secure enough to allow his teammate's personalities to emerge in the food, but held his ego in check enough not to have to produce anything so complicated that it couldn't be managed in the time frame and quantities needed. As the leader and engineer of the team's overall effort, Sam won this week's elimination challenge.