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Rocco's Dinner Party

Did anyone happen to see this? I just watched the episode from last week off of my dvr and was pleasantly surprised. I know Rocco doesn't seem to get a lot of love around here, but the focus seems to showcase the participating chefs. Three chefs presented their signature dish to Rocco, and two of those were chosen to cook and create the ambience for the speakeasy-themed dinner party. Guests included Marcus Samuelsson, Kelly Choi and ~4 others. Last minute twists included one of the guests being vegetarian and the other not consuming alcohol, but otherwise the chefs were able to create their own menus and didn't have any of the other stunts/obstacles so they could focus on their food. I can't remember the time constraints but they seemed pretty tight.

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  1. I agree. It was better than I expected. I liked the absence of mandatory ingredients a la "Chopped." Just a straightforward assignment to prepare a lovely dinner. I will probably watch it again.

    1. I was originally not going to watch, but decided to give Rocco the benefit of the doubt and was also pleasantly surprised. Still not a fan of Rocco, but the format was nice. I was also surprised with the twist and the fact that they were able to just provide the single plate for the vegetarian and not have to completely redo the entire menu, which I think is more realistic. I will give it another look.

      1. I found his 1-on-1 judging surprisingly snarky - didn't expect that from him. We'll see if it continues - its it part of the premise?

        Looks like Magical Elves - does anyone know? My DVR cut off the credits.

        1. I thought the show was rubbish. It's somewhere between top chef and real housewives, and probably closer to the latter. I don't think this show really fills any void.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chezwhitey

            To each his own. I can't stand to watch any of the "Real Housewives" shows for half a minute but I thought this was pretty good.

            1. re: chezwhitey

              "It's somewhere between top chef and real housewives"

              . . . and the 2 will collide next week. This is simply another way of recycling the franchise. Look for more NJ/NY housewives, top chef hosts/contestants, and other reality-celebs to appear on the show as Rocco runs out of chic friends willing to expose themselves on reality TV for a career boost or free meal.

            2. sorry i would never watch any "Rocco" anything

              1 Reply
              1. re: FISHINC

                so why bother participating in the thread?

              2. I liked it, too. There's no escaping Rocco's elitist vibe, but I liked watching the comparison of the two interpretations of the same theme. I also enjoyed watching the guests comment on the food and decor... everyone's opinion seemed to matter to the host. What I could have done without was the smack talking back in the kitchen. But I really don't think I've seen a food competition show that doesn't include some snarking between competitors. Even the nicey-nice spirit that pervaded the most recent Top Chef Masters was abbreviated by a tiny bit of backbiting.

                1. I find it poignant that two such talented chefs as Rocco and Marcus Samuelsson, two people that, at one point in their careers, displayed such remarkable potential, are content allowing their talents to lapse in favor of becoming Celebrity Chefs and professional foodies. Those who can, do. Those who can't... And I can't say this about all of the food show regulars - many of them still do take their craft seriously (see Craft, for an example).

                  1. i'm a huge fan of Rocco's skill as a *chef* so yes, i watched...and i enjoyed it. seemed like the same basic format as the standard Top Chef season finale, so what's not to like?

                    i let out an audible "yikes!" when Marcus Samuelsson walked in - friends of mine are regulars at Red Rooster, so i'm familiar with the menu and realized immediately that JJ was cooking versions of some of his dishes. kudos to him for keeping his cool!

                    i thought both chefs put out some great looking food, and i was relieved Rocco let the female chef go after the initial challenge, i found her to be incredibly irritating. my only gripe was having to watch Kelly Choi again, though she wasn't as intolerable on this as she was as host of TCM.

                    oh, and i'm now *coveting* Rocco's loft...if you're going to live in NYC, that is definitely the way to do it :)

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I liked the quality of the contestants and the judges. I hate the editing, editing on American TV treats everyone like idiots...ummm we are not. It got better once it was down to the two contenders at the actual diner.. I also think a lot of the antaganism between the two contestants in the final was so coached. I just heard some AD in my head between takes going "OK guys lets get some jabs at each other going."

                      1. re: chris2269

                        well of course! heaven forbid any of these shows could ever give us just straight-up cooking without any staged drama or theatrics :) but all told, it was less obtrusive and offensive than most.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Oh I know. My biggest pet peeve right now is "OK regardless if you like the dish or not walk away without a word like you are really really pissed." MC America right now is the biggest offender.

                          Trust me I have a love hate relationship...I complain yet I love..I travel all the time so all I do is download reality cooking shows to have something to do in the hotel. :(

                          Hey its porn but at least it is food porn...OK shutting up now

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Wow, that loft. Do you think it is really his? It is massive and almost seemed too perfect for the show? I wondered if it was a rental similar to Giada "cooking at home". Anyway, that kitchen was amazing.

                        1. re: jules127

                          no, it's not actually his :) i should have said the "show's" loft. but i still think that's the way to go if you have to live in Manhattan!

                          1. re: jules127

                            Not his loft. It is actually not a real loft, but a film set.
                            If you look carefully none of the windows have a real view, the sky of the terrace is just blue LED lights on a black background, the lighting looks unnatural, some of the walls look way too thin, the relationship of the rooms to each other makes no sense, and the furnishings and accessories look awkwardly and cheaply staged.

                        2. I almost turned off when he started judging their signature dishes - the snark was laid on pretty heavily there! And he seemed to be encouraging the chefs to diss each other... but the dinner party was much better, and the judging at the end was fair. I'll give it another shot.

                          1. I was pleasantly surprised by both episodes (from the 15th and last night). I didn't like the last minute "vegetarian twist" in the first episode, but hey - they did well to cover Christine whoever-she-was.

                            I do think, however, that the wrong person won in both episodes. For last night, I would have much preferred King's dishes over the culinary teacher's dishes.

                            Rocco does seem to have a particularly snarky tone in judging the signature dishes with the cutting remarks he makes. BUT....at least he looks better than when he was Botox'd and shiney-faced a few years ago.

                            I'll watch it if I'm not overly tired or don't have something else I'm watching. It's mildly entertaining.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              In fact, I have eaten at King's restaurant Kuma Inn many times b/c his food his fantastic. This is the second time I've seen him on FN--he lost Chopped in the 2nd round, too. Poor King. Maybe he should just stick to turning out awesome food rather than being on TV.

                            2. I absolutely hated this show. Rocco, the contestants, the table scapes. Everything. It's not even a good train wreck. It's just boring. Deleted it from the DVR schedule.

                              But, I'm a little different. I actually like Bitchin Kitchen. Which is way more entertaining.

                              1. I figured I was cooking showed-out, but for some reason I taped a couple of episodes of this show, and like many other posters, was pleasantly surprised. Again, like many others, I am not a huge Rocco fan, but find him toned-down and somewhat more agreeable within the confines of this show.

                                My favorite moment was when the comedian Jeffrey Ross from all those celebrity roasts complained about the shows theme meals which had to be under 350 calories and 10 grams of fat. The chefs made him dishes on the fly which he loved and still met the criteria. One made chicken salad with yogurt, and the other made some jewish dish she had never heard of (matzo brei?) and although it was nothing like it was supposed to be, everyone loved it and she won.

                                1. While I have never been a Rocco basher, this show was down right boring! Really disappointing comeback imho.

                                  1. I just caught my first episode "Town and Country". It was funny, especially when Chef Corey Roberts told Rocco to go back to his quests after Rocco came in to chastise him for being slow. Kudos to Chef Roberts.

                                    1. I've watched 3 episodes now, and it's very hard for me to see past Rocco's level of vanity and self consciousness. He primps as he breathes, and he is botoxed and chemical peeled to hell.

                                      I watched a re-run yesterday and one of his guests, a fashion designer, was talking about how he eats an inordinate amount of sweets and junk food when he's preparing for a show, and Rocco chimes in with "And that's why we have dermatologists." or something like that.

                                      I think he'd be a great addition to Joan River's Fashion Police guest lineup or some other E! show, but his focus and attention seem very far from food these days. It's almost like the dinner party setup is a credibility bridge to a whole 'nother persona and television career that's got nothing to do with food.

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                        Watched because there's little to watch but 'paid programs' on tv. This was a bit above an infomercial. The party planner/space designer is the pits and this show serves as her advertising. The guests on generally B list personalities.
                                        Some of the food actually looks good.
                                        4 hours to pull off a dinner poarty is not a lot of time, BUT $500 to feed 6 people is excessive.

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          bagelman, you clearly do not hang out with the ultrafabulous urbanite friends that Rocco invites to *THE LOFT* for dinner. $500 is but 10 drinks and cabfare, darl... :P

                                        2. re: inaplasticcup

                                          About the only appeal is watching 2 mostly serious cooks plan and execute an entire meal they want to serve--not pushed into some gimmick corner (time, personality challenges, ingredients). Rocco is mostly unwatchable, the guests mostly an interchangeable scrum of "who dat" or "him/her again?"

                                          1. re: bob96

                                            I actually like the show for this very reason. Also like Chopped, but often times the ingredients are far too remote that I lose interest... Vermouth, Aardvark Legs, Fingernail clippings and cat hairballs - now "go make a dessert!"

                                            Likewise Top Chef is often more about testing their contestants ability to create fast fare under different pressures.

                                            I agree Rocco is a smarmy ass and has snarky guests, but the show usually gives the competing chefs a pretty wide berth and enough time to create what they want.

                                            Of all the competition shows out there, this one is actually pretty close to the challenge that home cooks face when throwing a party... fixed budget, adhere to a theme, try to create a number of memorable courses, yet deal with the odd guest who doesn't or can't eat XYZ.
                                            I've gone through the same challenges when throwing Saturday backyard pool BBQs, let alone NY loft parties with semi-celebs! :)

                                            1. re: bob96

                                              It seems I'm late to the party. Just saw my first episode.

                                              "About the only appeal is watching 2 mostly serious cooks plan and execute an entire meal they want to serve--not pushed into some gimmick corner (time, personality challenges, ingredients)."
                                              +1 to this. But let's not understate it either - it's really refreshing to see a cooking show where reasonably skilled people make things they like to make. No 5 ingredient 10 minute nonsense, no mystery baskets with ingredients that really don't play well together, and not too much in the way of TV judges trying their damnedest to look angry and severe in order to inject a lame, forced drama to the show. I like Top Chef too, but the best episodes are usually when the contestants are let off the leash a little bit. I might even put up with B list celebrities exchanging idle pleasantries and DiSpirito's obviously inflated ego.

                                              It probably doesn't hurt that my expectations were beyond low going into this.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                I am pleasantly surprised by the cooking part of the show though on the whole I find the guests to be to "artificially enhanced" for my liking. Tonight was Liza with a Z and it seemed some guests could not speak properly for the plastic surgery.

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  "Too", not "to". This group was natural compared to other eps.
                                                  Sandra (at least through editing) seemed really nasty. Bitter, party of 1!

                                                  1. re: BubblyOne

                                                    I think I'm glad I didn't see last night's ep - Liza with a Z and Sandra (Bernhardt?) Gah.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Liza Minnelli ended up being a very gracious and grateful guest while Sandra Bernhardt was at least edited to look/sound like an utter malcontent.

                                                      This was actually my favorite panel so far. Other than Bernhardt, all of them seemed so relatively un- vapid and full of themselves as Rocco and his usual B-list guests tend to be.

                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                        I am friendly with Sam Harris and on FB he asked for comments about the show. I basically posted the same thing as above and I noticed this a.m. he "liked" all of the posts that mentioned Sandra being rude/nasty. So I don't think it was the editing.
                                                        Saved it to watch again but vaguely remember some kind of Sandra dis by Liza near the end- but I'd had a few glasses of wine by that point:)

                                                        1. re: BubblyOne

                                                          Sandra started in on a story about how she was forced to eat carrots as a child and Liza interrupted with a "Fascinating!"

                                                          1. re: 512window

                                                            That was it! I love Liza, but don't try and out-diva her.

                                                        2. re: inaplasticcup

                                                          +1. I'd have posted exactly the same, including caveat about editing.

                                                          At first I assumed I would not like this show, but now I do. It's a lot of things I like in these shows: first showing off your best dish -- no constraints -- to be judged against others, then planning a menu to be completed in an hour -- with no constraints on number of courses just needs to be awesome -- but which always includes a few accomodations for guests, and even some Project Runway with the theme & styling of the rooms. The only thing that is a little off is that Rocco as the host wouldn't find out in advance about guests' dietary restrictions, and interrupts chefs' prep with "oh I have news" after the guests have arrived. I'd prefer more straighforward and realistic, but it's fine.

                                                          The Liza Minnelli one was my favorite; at first I was a little startled by her appearance and voice, but I was thinking I would be psyched to be at a dinner party with her. She seems like wicked fun and that she'd have fabulous stories if she was with people who let their hair down. And she's had a hell of an interesting life.

                                                        3. re: LindaWhit

                                                          I really like this show!

                                                          I really liked the chef mom of 5 who said her own dish looked like it came straight out of the "Hee Haw Culinary School", and said she wanted the decor to evoke the feeling of "when you squish a really fat ass"!
                                                          Oh she was so likable, (and her food did look good!) I wanted her to win so badly, but **sigh** she lost..

                                                          I don't mind Rocco, but his guests are so obnoxious..it's almost unbearable..

                                                          I'm actually looking forward to watching the Liza episode...she is kind of nice, I think - but ugh not Sandra B *ugh*

                                              2. At first I didn't watch it but I've watched every show On Demand. I like that they have celebrities but thier not always "foodies" I loved the Speakeasy episode when Micheal Kenneth Williams (the actor from the Wire and Boardwalk Empire) gave a "culinary" critique and everyone just stopped and looked at him like "where did that come from" then he ate the oxtails with his fingers....Love it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Just Plain Craig

                                                  oh crap - gotta see that episode now. Omar setting some mothaf!@# straight on their culinary technique? I'm there, best believe.

                                                2. when it comes to cooking chefy shows I'm pretty much gonna watch.
                                                  some I can't stomach and that's it for them.
                                                  I know RD'S has complaints galore probably stemming from Rocco's The Restaurant - his felled/failed attemp- altho I watched because I liked it.
                                                  I can't complain about this 'Dinner Party' show as I DVR it and watched every show.
                                                  hope it comes back for a new season but maybe he ran out of invitees.