Rocco's Dinner Party premiered Wednesday night on Bravo, and even though Rocco DiSpirito himself gives me a bit of indigestion, the show made me hungry for more. It provides inspiration to anyone who loves to entertain and some good entertainment for those who just like to eat.
It starts with three chefs who are asked to cook a signature dish that tells Rocco everything he needs to know about them. The loser (in tonight's case a woman named Britt, who was so cocky she deserved to go home for her "tragic" avocado) doesn't get to cook for the big dinner party and is sent home. The other two move on and are tasked with throwing a themed dinner party. Tonight's theme: A speakeasy.
So the two remaining chefs -- J.J. Johnson and Geoff Johnson (not related apparently) tonight -- then plan a menu, set the mood (with the help of a decorator), and get cooking. The two guys tonight were highly entertaining, and had a great banter going on (What's your garnish? Your ass.). It will depend week to week on the personalities competing as to the tone and how high the competition levels rise, but with $20,000 at stake, they're likely to be steep.
The dinner guests are an assortment of celebrities who will rotate each week. Tonight's guests included Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Batt (Mad Men), Broadway's Christine Ebersole, former Top Chef Masters host Kelly Choi, restaurateur and Top Chef Masters champ Marcus Samuelsson, and Bill McCuddy, Forbes media critic. Future guests are said to include Liza Minnelli, Sandra Bernhard, and Padma Lakshmi, so excitement may be upped depending on who's seated at the table.
In the end tonight, it was J.J. with the win. His menu consisted of shrimp and grits, a wild mushroom salad, braised oxtail (he left it on the bone), and banana bread pudding. He was so excited, he wanted to call his mother right away. It's a nice change from Top Chef Masters in that the stakes are high for these chefs, who haven't yet made a name for themselves, and $20,000 is a lot of cash to them.
Sure the show was formulaic in parts, and Rocco trying to be a bad ass got annoying here and there, but overall, I'll be coming back for seconds at least.
Did you watch Rocco's Dinner Party? What did you think?
Image via bravotv.com