Rocco DiSpirito

Rocco DiSpirito explains the differences between Natalie's and Vanessa's French-inspired dinner parties.

on Jul 21, 20110

Finally, French! While some of you may be intimidated by French food, it’s really not that unusual at all. You get to eat soups, salads, seafood, beef, and more in a variety of preparations that will please just about anyone. The French are the best when it comes to making great sauces or, heck, anything made with milk, cream, eggs or butter. Hell, I moved to france when I was 18 to learn how to cook from the French, I should totally be French. Pass me a beret and a baguette, please.

The party last night was wilder in the kitchen than in the dining rooms when I invited not one, but three caterers to compete -- a first-ever for the show. Think about it though: when you throw a dinner party, you typically hire a caterer. So I was really psyched to stack the deck with pro dinner party people.

The caterers were Daniel Rader, the executive chef of his own catering company, Daniel Rader Fine Catering; Vanessa Contave, owner of Yum Yum Catering; and Natalie Stone, mother of five, homemaker, “occasional caterer” (uh-oh, what was I thinking?), and entrepreneur (she recently started her own biscotti company). 

Daniel caters to the famous: Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Bette Midler, to name just a few. I felt like the competition would be a cake walk for him. He’s in this celeb milieu all the time. Vanessa is grad of the French Culinary Institute -- a good thing since the party theme was French Cuisine. She’d be in her element. Then there was Natalie. OMG, she was manic, zany, and going in so many directions. She didn’t even know how to use some of my cooking equipment. Could she stand up to the heat? I liked her attitude: she affirmed that she wanted to not just meet but exceed my expectations for the party And I believed it was more than just her fronting for the camera.

The Signature Dish Challenge went from panic to plate in 30 minutes. Daniel’s Chicken Ballotine was something he cooks all the time for celebs and they swoon over it. Not me. All he did was stuff a chicken breast with some cheeses and vegetables. It sat on a potato pancake, white asparagus, Tarragon Buerre Blanc, and a signature-dish-within-a –signature dish of Daniel’s, Panko Forofa (a Brazilian dish made with tapioca starch). He had a lot going on the plate, much less going on on the palate. 

11 comments
Roamnia Ricci
Roamnia Ricci

I'm loving this show. And I wasn't expecting to. Well done.

Made a Haitian proud
Made a Haitian proud

I was pleasantly impress with Vannessa's calm, cool, and collective demeaner.A great chef has no need to flap their wings.I was proud that she cooked two Haitian dish the Haitian legume along with the braise rib and the plaintain soup. Thank you for representing Vannessa!!! May God bless you.We love you!!!

JessG9
JessG9

SO want to try vanessa's Banana Tart, Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream and Rum Caramel Sauce! my mouth watered when i saw it! I need a recipe!

Goldikova
Goldikova

I agree, this is the best show on Bravo. It is inspiring me to get a dinner party movement started in our area.

PJ Sodora
PJ Sodora

This was a great episode. I loved Natalie's energy and enthusiasm and I thought it was great to see that she held her own against formally trained Chefs. I have many great cooks in my family. My brother is also a trained chef from the CIA. Truth is you don't need a degree to cook fantastic amazing food. You just need to have a passion for it and Natalie definitely had passion......without the pretention.

To the Sicialian Princess,get over yourself.

Rocco's hall pass
Rocco's hall pass

Rocco,

I have to say that this is BY FAR my favorite new Bravo show. I love the decor aspect. It gives me a lot of party theme ideas. I am not a chef, so I was wondering if French cuisine is what chefs have to learn first. You're doing a great job. Love your friends. Love the food.

DeMi1
DeMi1

Your show is the best on Bravo, at this time. I love the concept and you have selected my choice as the winner, each week.

Donna Rentz-Smith
Donna Rentz-Smith

Rocco, This is the 2nd show that I watched. I love the fact that you have the celebrity guest for your dinner parties. So far I have picked the same winner that you dind...love that! As a child I watched a lot of PBS television and Julia Childs was one of my favorite shows; so I really enjoyed the show last night. Great format...love the content! Keep up the good work Rocco...see you next week!

Sicilian Princess
Sicilian Princess

OMG-I almost turned the show off when Natalie mispronounced biscotti! She claims to be Sicilian (as am I) and I understand she wants to appeal to a wide audience with her cookies, however, if you're going to sell them; educate people on the correct pronunciation, please!