We are in full holiday party mode which means lots of food, wine, and time with friends. Whether you’re hosting a shindig or need a dish to pass, we all want everything to look as good as it tastes. Season 16 Top Chef judge, Nilou Motamed, knows how to throw a good party and take an even better photo of it. She sat down exclusively with Life & Style to share her holiday party tips, complete with FOMO-inducing pictures. Keep scrolling to see Nilou’s eight fool-proof tips that your friends and Instagram feed will love. 

Besides making us drool over her flourless chocolate cake (her secret is well-whipped egg whites), Nilou brought her years of food and party expertise. Her biggest tip for a newbie host is: “Don’t turn into somebody you’re not.” She continued by saying, “Be true to yourself. You don’t have to turn into a domestic goddess to throw a great holiday party.” When it comes down to it, the reason people go to parties is to have fun with family and friends. Nilou added, “What people want is a lot of alcohol and a great playlist. Just be yourself and take it easy. The point is hanging out.” So. Much. Truth.

Nilou has lived in Iran, France, New York City, and everywhere in-between, so it may surprise you that her favorite five-ingredient-or-less appetizer is pigs in a blanket. “I’m a sucker for them,” she admitted. “People eat those things almost dangerously. They eat them so fast. Don’t buy them at the store, make them yourself.” Mini-sausages and puff pastry are the two ingredients you need to make a Top Chef approved app. As for dipping, she’s a grainy-mustard type of gal but suggests making a mixture of Japanese Kewpie mayo and ketchup.

Don’t forget to share your yummy holiday photos or party questions with @niloumotamed and @bravotopchef on Instagram! You can watch Nilou, Padma Lakshmi, and the rest of the Top Chef judges take over Louisville (Nilou’s new favorite food city) this season on Bravo. The premiere episode is happening Thursday, Dec. 6 at 9/8C.

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