Author Topic: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party  (Read 2508 times)

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Offline apskip

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Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« on: May 09, 2011, 12:24:16 PM »
Rocco DiSpirito's new reality show, Rocco's Dinner Party sounds a bit like Top Chef to me.

"I'm throwing a real dinner party with my friends in my New York City apartment, and it's gonna be really fun," Rocco tells us excitedly. BRAVO will be starting this new series after Top chef Master 3 finishes in mid-June. "It's a real dinner party with real people and there's a lot at stake. Plus, a special guest of each show will be the kind of guest that will really scare the crap out of the chefs. Meaning guys who scared the crap out of me when I was cooking."

"It is going to be very different than Top Chef because it's a close-ended show," Rocco stresses. "At the end of every episode, we find a winner...there's no show like that on Bravo." Huh? How about every Top Chef episode except a very few.

Another thing that sets this Party apart: "We also have a really cool design element. The chefs are going to be called upon not only to create a menu that will be appropriate for my guests and all their needs, but to create an atmosphere that will be visually stunning [and] materially add to the enjoyment of our guests. So you're going to get to watch my apartment transform from one thing to another."

Things do not bode well for this new show, but I will reserve judgment until after I see a few episodes.


Offline TexasLady

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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2011, 01:59:33 PM »
I'm with you apskip. I'll give this show a try and see how it goes.  

(I loved his mother when he was starting his first restaurant show and she would make the meatballs for him.)
I am but a pebble on a rocky shore.

Offline apskip

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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2011, 02:12:41 PM »
There is a little more information on how this show will work. 3 chefs will be working a dinner party Rocco Dispirito is throwing in his home. A mix of celebrities and real people will be the dinner guests. An example of one party is Liza Minnelli's 65th birthday party (which occurred in March 2011; I know because we share the same birthdate although not birth year). At the end of the evening one of the chefs wins $20,000. Some industry experts are calling it "Chopped" for a party and for more money, although it does have the sparkling personality of Rocco to give it more pzazz.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 06:50:54 PM by apskip »

Offline apskip

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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011, 06:37:37 PM »
Here are some videos just blogged today by Bravo:

Oxtails and Cauliflower highlight a meal with Marcus Sameulsson and Kelly Choi among the guests:
http://www.bravotv.com/roccos-dinner-party/season-1/videos/a-stage-for-ox-tail     1:23

Introduction of the chefs for the first episode: Geoff Johnson, Britt Kurent, J.J. Johnson
http://www.bravotv.com/roccos-dinner-party/season-1/videos/who-can-pull-off-the-perfect-dinner-party     2:02

Offline apskip

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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2011, 03:40:00 PM »
Now is the time. This series starts its telecasts tonight at 11pm after the Top chef Masters 3 finale. Next week, it will take over the Wednesday 10pm EDT time slot on Bravo.


Offline apskip

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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2011, 08:53:01 PM »
Rocco’s Dinner Party
This is a simple culinary competition for big bucks. 3 chefs are invited by celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito to create/cook a dinner party in Rocco’s Manhattan residence. The first group of 3 chefs were:

Britt Current, Britt Current Catering
Geoff Johnson, Executive Chef/Owner, CopperFish-on-Broadway, Cape May NJ
JJ Johnson, executive sous chef at an executive dining facility

Rocco gave them the most basic test in the restaurant business, cook your signature dish. One of the 3 swill be eliminated and the other 2 will go head-to-head for $20,000 as determined by Rocco with feedback from his guests.

The dishes prepared for the signature dish competition in 30 minutes were:
JJ – pan-seared divers scallops in corned bacon
Geoff – War of the Lobster – monkfish (poor man’s lobster) vs. lobster tail (rich man’s version)
Britt – arctic char tartare over blenderized avocado

Britt was judged by Rocco to be the chef least likely to succeed on his dinner party assignment, so she was cut loose. JJ was the winner primarily because Geoff had sent his monkfish out rare. He was given both the right to pick his serving area (choice of 3 rooms) and the right top cook 1st or 2nd. He chose the Formal dining room while Geoff chose the Terrace. JJ choose to cook 2nd, leaving Geoff to cook 1st.

The theme of this party is a Speakeasy. Geoff and JJ both developed ideas for visual setting with assistance from party planner Jess Gordon. At least this woman was sane and not over-the-top like some I have seen in Hell’s Kitchen episodes.  Ingredients were purchased with a trip to Garden of Eden. After the chefs started cooking, Rocco came in to throw them the traditional twist of several dietary restrictions (he didn’t identify who but Christine is a vegan and Michael will not eat anything with alcohol in it). That didn’t affect JJ much, but with the Speakeasy theme Geoff had planned to douse many dishes in alcohol and several dishes were originally planned for pork. Rocco elected to visit the kitchen once for each chef and brought Marcus with him for the visit to motivate JJ to speed things up.

The menus were this:
Geoff – course 1 Chili, Seared Scallops in giant shells, Guacamole, Tequila Lime 
                                Mignonette
                           2 Sweet Potato Bisque in a Martini Glass w/ Grande Marnier and Cactus
                                Pear Confit
                           3 Wild Black Cod, Yellow Split Pea Pilaf, Carrot Puree
                           4 Braised Short Ribs, Pureed Roasted Cauliflower , Sauteed Brussels
                                Sprouts
                           5 Crème Brûlée Napoleon: Vanilla Bean Custard, Cinnamon Phyllo, and
                                Sugar Tuille


JJ course 1 Shrimp and Grits, Jalapeno Scallion Emulsion
                  2 Wild Mushroom Salad, frisee, ricotta and only 2 types of mushrooms
                  3 Braised Oxtail, carrot ginger puree, Brussels Sprouts                                                                   
                  4 Banana Bread Pudding: Spiced Walnuts, Chantilly Cream
     
The guests were Marcus Samuelsson (winner of Top Chef Masters 2), actress Christine Ebersole, actor Bryan Batt, food critic Kelly Choi, media critic Bill McCurdy and actor Michael Williams.

The guests had two fine meals. As one of them put it, Geoff had excelled on his first and last dishes. His black cod was not black cod, it was regular Atlantic cod, which lost him points with Rocco. JJ had gummy grits but everything else was sublime, particularly his braised oxtails (4 hours cooking time). The winner was judged by Rocco to be JJ. JJ thought a factor in his victory was the fact that Marcus owns a speakeasy in Harlem serving the exact same type of food, so he must have liked JJ’s food a lot.


Offline apskip

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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2011, 04:15:35 PM »
I can see that I am talking to myself here. Is anyone interested in what I am writing?

RDP1, Ep. 2
The 3 chefs competing this episode were:
King Phoganakong, chef/owner of 2 Manhattan restaurants, Kuma Inn and Umi Nom
Michelle Karam, Los Angeles private chef
Joel Gargano, culinary teacher for West Haven Ct high school

The Signature Dish challenge gave each one 30 minutes to create the dish that advertises who they are the best.  The dishes created were:
King – stir fry with scallops except the scallops did not make the plate
Michelle – crawfish etoufee
Joel – pan-seared duck breast w/ salsify and sautéed root vegetables

Rocco criticized King for no scallops on the plate, Michelle for attempting a 4 hour dish in 30 minutes by using shortcuts but without cooking the roux long enough to incorporate the flour properly and Joel for not poaching the salsify before cooking it. The winner was Joel and the loser was Michelle, who had to pack her bags and leave.

The dinner was for a Mystery Guest who had these major parameters:
1. likes Bali
2. likes Italy
3. a star in the culinary community
3. loves spices

Joel got the pick of cooking 1st or 2nd (he chose 1st) and taking any of the 3 dining rooms (I think he chose the Terrace and King the Formal dining room). Both got the assistance of Jes Gordon in planning the décor. Both spend a minimal amount of time at it. Joel wanted to have the question of “If you were a teacher, what subject would you teach?” available as a conversation started, so Jes put that on chalkboards for each guest. King wanted a Vespa and comfortable slippers in the room (although there was nowhere for the Vespa to go).  Each chef was given $500 for ingredients at Garden of Eden and 1 hour to serve 3 courses once their initial cooking time was done.

The menu for Joel was:
0. Parchment Tuile, which fell apart
1. Steamed mussels and clams, parsley and mussels salad
2. Borlotti bean stew w/ Dijon spiced sausage
3. Sourdough bread pudding, cardamom and Scotch ice cream

The menu for King was:
0. Lychee Bellini cocktails
1. Grilled pork spare ribs, pork spring roll, grilled shrimp and papaya curry
2. Green coconut curry w/ scallops, mussels, shrimp and panko, crabmeat fried rice
3. Coconut Lemongrass panna cotta

The guests were Mary Alice Stephenson, Bebel Gilberto, Gilles Mendel, Cindy Leive, D.L. Hughley and the Mystery Guest Padma Lakshmi. Padma went to the kitchen to meet the chefs and posed a challenge to make an amuse bouche in 5 minutes using Afro Caribbean spice blend she brought for that purpose. Joel did tuna and King did salmon. The guests voted a preference for Joel’s amuse bouche. Two major points Signature Dish and amuse bouche) to Joel! King was not worried. He felt he was competing with a rookie and he had it in the bag. He disparaged on camera Joel’s messiness in the kitchen and stated that Joel could never get a job in either of King’s restaurants.

Feedback from the guests included:
1.Two diners do not eat mussels, but they tried Joel’s and like them a lot,
2.Joel’s sausage was underseasoned and should have had more Dijon mustard in it or on the plate to provide more flavor.
3. Joel’s room décor was a hit but so was King’s. Joel elected to send waiters out to have the guests finish the game so they could remove the chalkboards, but the guests had already finished the game and the waiters just did not know that.
4. The Vespa was particularly appreciated by Padma.

The situation made it appear that Rocco would undoubtedly select King as the winner. However, he surprised me by telling King that he had played it too safe. Joel won the $20,000 and stated his intention of someday opening a restaurant with his wife.

Offline apskip

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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2011, 03:00:59 PM »
RDP1, Ep. 3

The chefs were Frabrizio Carro (Executive Chef, NYC Aquavit), Ninamarie Bojekian (a caterer) and Nicola Carro(brother of Fabrizio and Exec. Chef at Aquavit Miami). The Signature Dish Challenge gave them 30 minutes to create and present these dishes:

Nicola – Bomano tagliolini w/ prosciutto, Robiata cheese, zucchini and radichio
Ninamarie – smoked rosemary infused lamb chops w/ blood orange dill yoghurt+ fennel, onion and parsley salad
Fabrizio – Lamb chops Scotteditto w/ Castelvetano olive puree, barolo risotto, blue Morcensio cheese

Comments by Rocco were:
Nicola – ingredients were at war
Ninamarie – smoked the lamb too hard and too well done
Fabrizio – lamb hard on outside and raw on inside

Nicola was the loser and eliminated. Ninamarie was judged the winner, so she picked the intimate dining room and cooking first. Both had $500 to shop for ingredients, cook the next day and serve within one hour. The theme was Traditional Italian Family Dinner. The menus were:

Nina 0 Lemon Infused Rosemary Prosecco Martini
Nina 1 eggplant caponata, fire roasted peppers, zucchini bread, braised pancetta, grilled asparagus, figs   
Nina 2 chopped chicken scaparelli w/ Italian sausage, mussels, cockles, Israeli couscous
Nina 3 Veal Milanese w/ arugula, cherry tomatoes and peaches
Nina 4 chilled poached basil infused fruit w sweetened crème fraiche

Fabrizio 0 Negroni and aperol spritz
Fabrizio 1 Antipasti mixta w/ melanzone, salumi alla formaggio, caponata Italiano, Crostini Toscano     
Fabrizio 2 Lasagna, Bechamel sauce; Poached branzino All’Acqua w/ roasted potatoes
Farbizio 3 PannaCotta w/ expresso

When Sara arrived, she mentioned that she was on a carb-free diet and also wanted no fat and low calories. That was a tall order for Italian food. Fabrizio developed special courses just for her including a polpettini meatball, while Ninamarie pretty much ignored her.

The guests were Caroline and Albert Manzo, Joey Fattone, Sara Gore, Silvano Marchetto and Tammy Pescatelli. Their comments were that both rooms were decorated Italian style, although Fabrizio’s was rated more homey. Food was rated top-notch for both except for the tasteless sauce on Fabrizio’s lasagna and the odd smell to his branzino. Silvano, a noted restauranteur rated Ninamarie’s mussels and cockles extremely highly.

It was time for Rocco to make a decision.
 He went with the décor edge and the attention to Sara’s dietary requests over Ninamarie’s better food on average and gave Fabrizio the win.




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Re: Rocco Despirito's Dinner Party
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2011, 03:03:40 PM »
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.


 

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