Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rocco's Dinner Party, Season 1 Finale Recap

I'm sorry, @RoccoDispirito, I did not watch your Dinner Party this week. Yes, I realize that Liza Minnelli and Friends were probably your most interesting guests of the entire series, but I had good reasons for missing this episode.

1. I had a brain-scrambling sinus headache;
2. It was a 90-minute episode. It's a rare occasion when this gal stays up past 11 o'clock on a school night. So rare it happens only once a year - New Year's Eve. And that's only because I enjoy guzzling half a bottle of champagne while watching Kathy Griffin threaten to out Anderson Cooper every five minutes. That, my friends, is entertainment.

Not that I didn't make a valiant attempt to watch. It wasn't until after the first 22 minutes that I succumbed to my pain and dragged myself to bed, which, conveniently, was just enough time for me to find out which two of this week's three chefpetitors was going on to cook for Liza Minnelli's Birthday Party. So I figured - I'll still do a recap. I'll just make shit up. Lord knows it'll be far more entertaining than my last nine recaps have been!

So, shall we begin?

This week's chefpetitors all came from varied work backgrounds. First we see former truck driver and current restaurant owner Antonio Bettencourt enter Rocco's fake loft kitchen. Behind him coming up the steps and no doubt checking out his ass is current lead soprano for the New York Grand Opera, Lucia Palmieri, who worked as a chef once upon a time. Immediately upon entering the kitchen, Lucia starts hitting on Antonio, who, I gotta admit, is pretty cute. He reminds me of Andrew Ridgeley from Wham!, with a little bit of Adrian Zmed. (I'm really dating myself here, aren't I?) Unfortunately for Lucia, he's happily married. Or so he says.

And, finally, in glides caterer Frank Piccone, once a personal trainer. Notice that I said their work backgrounds are varied. Every single fucking one of them is Italian, which seems to be true of 80% of all chefs appearing on this show. Doesn't any other nationality in the Tri-State area know how to cook? Frank (while I'm old...Mr Minx is even older; he thinks Frank looks like a young Phil Silvers) also claims to be single, but that's only because they hadn't yet passed the gay marriage bill in NY at the time of filming. It's pretty obvious that the man is as queer as a three-dollar bill.

What is it exactly that makes a three-dollar bill queer? Is it because it doesn't exist? If it did exist, would it be printed in glitter ink? Who would be on the front?

After introductions, the three chefpetitors scurry about in the kitchen, making their Signature Dishes for Rocco, who of course has to come in and poke around their ingredients, belittle their technique, and generally act like a pain in the ass. The usual. After the requisite thirty minutes of cooking, they present their dishes at the Altar of Judgement.

Lucia has made chicken Francese with rapini. It's a dish found in any old-fashioned Italian restaurant in the country, but she says none will taste like hers. Rocco eyeballs the dish - which looks like a big old pile of cat barf - looks skeptical, and takes a bite. And then another. He loves it! Hey Rocco!

On to Frank, who's made quinoa pasta with various shellfish. In the process of chopping onions for his sauce, he lopped off the top of his thumb, thereby enriching the dish with a little blood. Rocco goes on a bit about how "kinwah" (it's KEEN-wah, dummy) is hard to take for some people, blah blah this dish is going to suck...wait.... YUMMY!

Finally, Rocco checks out Tony's red snapper (no, that's not a euphemism) with spicy grapefruit, fennel, crispy Prosciutto di Parma and olive tapenade.

Despite the defiled Prosciutto, he loves Tony's dish, too.

You can tell that Rocco is disappointed that he can't find anything truly bitchy to say, and that makes it especially difficult to choose one person to go home. At this point, I'm thinking that since it's a 90 minute episode, all three will be cooking. But I'm wrong - Rocco sends the three of them back to the kitchen to cook him a perfect steak. In five minutes.

Six minutes later, Lucia presents him with steak she's hacked into bits in order to facilitate cooking. Frank gives him a bloody-looking plate with steak in a wine sauce. And Tony presents a perfectly-seared steak topped with a lovely reduced sauce. Well, it looks perfect, but on the inside, it's still mooing. That makes Rocco's job so much easier - bye bye Cute Italian! The show will go on with only the Fat Italian and the Gay Italian.

Frank gets the overall win, and this is where I go to bed, folks.

:::::beginning fantasy sequence:::::

Rocco then tells Lucia and Frank that the party they are catering just so happens to be for Liza Minnelli's 65th birthday! Wait - what? Liza celebrates her Age of Social Security with a party for only six guests, four of whom she probably doesn't even know, and taking place on a television set for a show that only eight people will be watching? This is Liza Fucking Minnelli. Doesn't she deserve better than that?

As a fellow performer, Lucia is ecstatic. And it goes without saying that Frank is over the moon.

When they meet with Jes Forehead, Frank tells her he wants to drape the walls of the Formal Dining Room with stage curtains and install a giant neon sign that reads "Kit Kat Club" on one side. Lucia is a bit star struck and decides to decorate the Terrace Dining Room with Liza memorabilia as an homage to her career.

While shopping, Frank tells us that since he's doing a Cabaret theme, he's serving German food. His amuse will be a currywurst slider, followed by "liverwurst paté with toasted pumpernickel croûtes." The main course will include "knackwurst with a sauerkraut and mustard purée," and, for dessert, "krapfen (donuts) filled with thick white cream."

Lucia is sticking with Italian food one can find in any old-fashioned Italian restaurant. She's starting off with an antipasti plate, followed by a pasta course of linguine with clam sauce, veal saltimbocca, and tiramisu.

Back at Rocco's fake loft, both chefs get to work on their dishes. Lucia spends a lot of time singing opera, much to Frank's chagrin. When he complains, she starts belting out "Maybe This Time" in an operatic voice and Frank finds himself joining in. At this point, Rocco comes in to sneer at their menus. He seems baffled at Frank's choice of pork for every course, but Frank reassures him that he "knows how to handle sausage." Rocco then goes over to sniff and prod at Lucia's ingredients. Realizing that maybe he's single, Lucia starts peppering Rocco with questions about his personal life. Prudently, he reveals only that he's not involved with anyone, and that he lives alone with his four cats, "Fluffy, Jeffrey, Zsa Zsa, and Mrs Tinkles."

Soon, the guests arrive, and for once it's a collection of real star power. First we see comedian/actress Sandra Bernhard, followed by fashion designer Kenneth Cole, and actor Alan Cumming. Composer Marvin Hamlisch shows up next, and finally Liza arrives with her BFF Sam Harris. Yes, that Sam Harris, from Star Search. Gotta say - love him. Not that his music turns me on or anything; I think he's a fine comic actor, and I was crushed when The Class was cancelled. He was brilliant as Perry Pearl.

Wait - this is supposed to be all about Liza, right? Hey, she looks great for 75! What? She's only 65? Hmm...maybe not as great as I originally thought.

After a couple three cocktails, the group heads into the Terrace Room to partake of Lucia's "Liza is Italian" theme. Liza is a bit creeped out at the sheer magnitude of Liza-related stuff that's decorating the walls and tabletops, particularly the life-sized wax figure of her that Jes Forehead borrowed from Madame Tussaud's in Times Square. Liza serves her dishes, which go largely unnoticed as Liza holds court.

There are no complaints, except from Alan Cumming, who was disappointed in the lack of Scottish fare.

On to Frank's party, where the dark damask curtains bear a subtle swastika pattern, and the neon lights give the room a seedy glow. Liza's place at the table is marked by a bowler hat, which she gamely puts on as she turns her chair around and sits backward. Sandra Bernhard is offended by the decor and refuses to enter the room at all, preferring to take her meal in the corridor between sets.

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Frank's sausagefest is served, and this time, Alan Cumming is thrilled. While he was hoping for haggis (which is like a sausage, right? a big, bloated, Ron Jeremy-esque sausage) he was more than happy with the big and juicy knackwurst.

Sandra Bernhard shouts from the hallway that she has suddenly developed a dietary restriction and needs Frank to make her a cheeseburger, which he does, using extra bratwurst that he removes from its casing. Shh...don't tell her that.

After all courses have been served, Rocco goes to the kitchen to reveal the winning chef. And the winner is....

Frank! While his decor was creepy, everyone agreed that the man really knows how to handle a sausage. He then took the opportunity to entertain the party guests with a medley of tunes from Cabaret, with accompaniment by Alan Cumming and Liza herself.

And a good time was had by all.

::::::::::ending fantasy sequence:::::::::

Especially us, now that Rocco's Dinner Party is officially over. I'm betting it won't be back. But if it is, I have some suggestions....

Posted by theminx on

1 comment:

Karen Carlson said...

Oh, I hope you feel better - but I have to admit, I'm really disappointed, I've been looking forward to your recap for twelve hours now (as pathetic as that sounds). I mean, one look at the horse lamp and my first thought was, "Minx is going to love this, she'll wonder if it's the same life-sized horse prop from the FNS episode." And the rest of the "hunting estate" decor... well, I hope you can see it On Demand or as a repeat sometime.