Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reactions to Rocco's Dinner Party, Episode 1

In this first episode of Bravo's new show, Rocco's Dinner Party, we learn that Rocco DiSpirito is...bitchy. Ok, maybe some people knew that already, but it was news to me. Sure, he was a bit of a harsh critic on Top Chef, but it seemed that in those cases criticism may have been warranted. On his own show, however, Rocco lets the snark fly, making sure that the contestants vying for the $20,000 prize are beneath him and his wondrous abilities.

Like Top Chef, RDP has two challenges per episode, however, the first challenge in this case is an elimination challenge. Each of three chefs - this week Geoff, JJ, and Britt - must create a "signature" dish by which Rocco can get to know them and their cooking style. Upon entering "Rocco's Loft," the three chefs are given their challenge and 30 minutes to cook. After some time, Rocco comes in to sneer. Unlike Tom Colicchio's usually helpful visits to the kitchen, it seems that Rocco's only there to undermine confidence.

When time's up, Rocco tastes the three dishes and makes unflattering commentary. Britt's made tartare with Arctic Char, not one of Rocco's favorite fishes to eat raw. After making mention of that, he grudgingly admits that the dish tastes fine, even if the accompanying avocado puree was not fit to be babyfood. Geoff's lobster and "poor man's lobster" - monkfish - included shells and nearly-raw monkfish. Another Rocco No-No. JJ's scallops with bacon and corn got a snide "oh, we've never seen these ingredients used together before" comment, but otherwise was fine.

The two remaining chefs were then told that they would be catering a dinner party for Rocco and six guests. The theme du jour was "speakeasy," and the chefs would not only be responsible for creating food but also for designing the decor of their chosen dining room. That's right, folks, "Rocco's Loft" has three dining rooms. Geoff chooses the Terrace Room, which while indoors evokes the outdoors, and JJ takes the Formal Dining Room. They meet with decor guru Jes Gordon who will create a Chicago gangster-inspired room for Geoff and a Harlem speakeasy for JJ.

After shopping and while Geoff is working on his 5 course dinner, Rocco comes in to deliver a twist. One guest is a vegetarian, and another eschews alcohol and pork. Geoff steps up to the plate and creates alternate versions of the meat dishes for guest Christine Ebersole and eliminates the use of alcohol from his other already pork-free recipes. His meal is met with mostly complimentary comments from the guests - who also include former Top Chef Masters host Kelly Choi and TCM2 winner Marcus Samuelsson. (See, this show does have enough connections to Top Chef to warrant being included here on All Top Chef!) Rocco's not pleased with the fish course though, saying that Geoff doesn't know the difference between Atlantic cod and Black cod.

Chef JJ's meal, apart from the overcooked grits in the very first course, fares just as well, if not better than Geoff's. Rocco has a tough decision to make. Ultimately, he chooses JJ's meal as the winner of the $20,000.

So...did you watch? What did you think? Please tell us in a comment. :)

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Laura K said...

Honestly I feel like that sneering host was not the "real" Rocco. I almost think that "someone" encouraged him to behave that way. It seemed fake and forced.

Also about five minutes into the show I told my husband that "the girl" would be eliminated.

"How do you know" he asked.

"Because she is getting so much screentime. She's not going to get any in the later part of the show, so they have to showcase her at the beginning."

Anyone else notice this?

June 16, 2011 3:58 PM

Barbara said...

I didn't like Rocco's sniping, didn't connect at all with the contestants and after Rocco delivered the twists, got bored and left. Won't bother watching again.

JordanBaker said...

I kind of loved it, mostly because I LOVE Bryan Batt and Michael Kenneth Williams (and I love that he plays such badass characters yet wears argyle cardis in his downtime).

But I've also created an elaborate backstory for it in my mind, wherein Rocco is a demented millionaire who invites chefs to his lair and makes them compete for his amusement. And the losers get fed to his alligators, or something.

Anonymous said...

I found Rocco condescending and egotistical. You can criticize assertively without the self righteous attitude. A good example of that is Tom Colicchio. For the most part, TC critiques a plate on TC without humiliating the cheftestants. If Rocco continues with the attitude, I might have to turn the show off.

sloopie72 said...

It was better than I'd expected. It's definitely the Rocco Show, which is the down side - unlike Top Chef, which is clearly about the chefs. I do think his sneering was a little forced. He has terrible onscreen presence, whether it's acting or just his presentation.

I like that the chefs get to actually cook without getting weird ingredients or ridiculous equipment. It's probably a good deal for chefs who can't really take off six weeks to do Top Chef, but who still have some game.

There were whiffs of Beverly Hills Chefs though, and since I hate that show with a passion (I won't even channel-surf through it) I was annoyed.

Still, I'll watch the next episode. Eventually I think Rocco will annoy me too much, but I can handle it for now, and I like seeing how the chefs deal with themes, and what they consider a "signature" dish (that can be made in 30 minutes).

ChrisDewett said...

I was randomly flipping channels on television and initially became interested when I stopped on the show. Unfortunately, I was forced to continue flipping after watching several minutes of Rocco's cold, condescending attitude. It starts with him awkwardly, and somewhat artificially, greeting his dinner guests. Then moves onto his very strange interaction with the chefs. This, and the fact that Rocco's loft is not aesthetically pleasing, convinced me that Rocco's Loft is not one of his best moments or a show I will continue to watch.