RDP1, Ep. 4
The chefs competing this episode were Fabio Capperello (executive chef for a NYC hotel restaurant), Jen de Palma (a caterer) and Ryan Poli (chef/owner of La Tavernita Restaurant in Chicago). Rocco started them off with his Signature Dish Challenge. Here were the dishes presented:
Fabio – Miso broth, Chilean sea bass w/ vermicelli noodles, lemongrass and choy sun
Jen – Chicken Amore, w/ tomato tomato cream sauce, white wine and grated cheese
Ryan – fish taco w/ corn inset infusion
Jen distinguished herself by being very messy in the kitchen and drinking a little of her white wine while cooking (she offered it around and Ryan had some too). There were things of each dish that Rocco really liked but:
Fabio’s broth had no flavor. He had failed to taste it while it got diluted.
Jen’s chicken was tasty and juicy and the sauce was delicious although she was emotional and passionate in her cooking, not traits Rocco values in the kitchen.
Ryan showed great skills, but he did not taste his dish.
Rocco first eliminated Fabio. Then he surprised Ryan by declaring Jen the winner. She chose to cook second and serve in the Terrace while Ryan served in the Intimate Dining Room. Now Rocco tells them that the theme is the Perfect Summer Party. However, there is a massive sub-theme and that is cooking with under 350 calories and 10 grams of fat for each of 3 courses plus a drink. The chefs were encouraged to read Rocco’s new cookbook The Now Eat this Diet!, so this episode was a huge continuing plug for that book. No product placement there, right, Bravo! Jes Gordon was brought in to turn each chef’s décor concepts into reality.
Ingredients were purchased at the Garden of Eden. The menu selected was:
Ryan 1 – grilled sea scallop, watermelon and tomato salad
Ryan 2 – poached cod, yuzu cucumber salad
Ryan 3 – parfait w/ vanilla bean, strawberries, balsamic vinegar
Jen 1 – scallops w/ tomato and watermelon salad
Jen 2 – BBQ pork tenderloin w/ chicken Andouille sausage and beans
Jen 3 – Lady fingers w/ passionfruit mousse trifle + fresh berries
The guests were Chazz Palmintieri, Betty Wong, Joe Dowdell, Damais Lewis, Jung Lee and comedian Jeffrey Ross. Ross is a particular favorite of Ryan Poli’s. As conversation in the Intimate dining room started off, Jeffrey mentioned that he had some particular foods he would like to be served. One of the other guests stated that she did not eat fish. Instead of telling Jeffrey to take a flying leap since he was always hamstringing the chefs a great deal with the calorie/fat challenge, Rocco took Jeffrey into the kitchen to present his requests, chicken salad, pot roast Jewish matzo brei and cheesecake, then later insists on the substitution of shrimp for cod. Jen hated the taste of her scallops, so she substituted shrimp into the dish at the last minute, drawing a Rocco visit into the kitchen to find out why the delay, never a good thing.
As each course came out, Rocco took great pleasure in enunciating its calorie and fat count. The calorie count was: R0 a margarita 150, R1 155, R2 250, R3 113, J0 a vodka spritzer 150, J1 260, J2 340, J3 215. The guests felt cheated with Ryan’s dessert, as it was too simple and too low in calories to have good flavor. Ryan’s scallop dish got mixed reviews with some finding it mushy and others not. Jeffrey loved all his special dishes. Jen’s BBQ pork and trifle got mixed reviews.
Rocco asked his guests what they thought of the experience. It looked like Jen was getting the nod. Rocco confirmed that Jen was the winner. Ryan was inwardly furious.
I was furious that Rocco had used this episode of his TV show as one long commercial for his book.