Rocco DiSpirito

Rocco DiSpirito goes deep about why Corey Roberts' party ultimately won.

on Jul 14, 2011
I had flavor issues with each dish. I was having a hard time understanding how dishes so potentially robust could be so neutered. Give me flavor or give me death! Or something like that. I was really hoping Ayinde would stay in the running, but his dish was so unbalanced that I ended the party for him.

Corey -- the airline chef -- won the Signature Dish Challenge. The whimsical nature of and the potential of the dish won me over. 

My dinner party theme was Town and Country … “town” being the sophisticated, big city taste and feel; “country” being a throw-back to simpler times, farm-fresh ingredients, and the casual gathering of friends around a casual table.

Nicole and Corey picked their theme by choosing one of two domes. Under one dome were eggs (country); under the other, caviar (town). Corey got the Country assignment; Nicole, the Town.

They put a lot of thought, energy, and detail in their decors. Corey chose the Terrace and party planner Jes Gordon decorated it with lots of rustic touches: country photographs, wagon wheels, and a special country-themed gift at each place setting. Nicole went for a high-style, white, lime green and fuchsia décor, with black and white photos of New York City hanging on my walls.

On my invitation list were:

Terrance Brennan, the Chef-Proprietor of the successful and acclaimed restaurants of The Artisanal Group, including Picholine, Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro & Wine Bar, and Bar Artisanal. In 2003, Terrance launched the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center -- a 10,000-square foot facility dedicated to the selection, maturation, and distribution of the world's finest artisanal cheeses. He brought a table full of his cheeses to the party, so I asked both chefs to prepare a cheese course using Terrance’s cheeses.

Melissa Joan Hart. You’ve seen Melissa in the live-action version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and since 2010, she has starred in the ABC Family series, Melissa and Joey.  

Deborah Cox, singer and actress who has conquered the R&B and pop charts, including six top R&B singles, and impressive 10 number-one hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Party Play chart. Plus, she has starred in musicals on Broadway.

Christian Campbell. Christian is an actor who has been on so many TV shows, movies, and plays that his resume could wrap around Manhattan and back.

Mo Rocca. Humorist, actor and writer, Mo Rocca is best known for his off-beat news reports and satirical commentary. Currently, he’s the host of Food(ography) on the Cooking Channel.

Tiler Peck. Tiler is the Principal Ballerina with the New York City Ballet. Tiler was a consultant on the movie Black Swan.