What a night, what a way to end the season.
We marked a very special occasion with a very special party for a very special lady, Liza Minnelli, who was celebrating her 65th birthday. Forgive the poetic waxing, but in so many ways, fond memories go hand in hand with great meals, and last night, that’s what I wanted to create for the fabulous, incomparable Liza Minnelli.
So in the kitchen were:
Antonio (Tony) Bettencourt, truck-driver-turned-restaurant-owner. His restaurant is 62 Restaurant, in Salem, Massachusetts where he’s also the Executive Chef. Yes, he went to cooking school, but I bet he got his greatest food education eating at truck stops, where some of the best stuff is served. Seriously! I’m hard-pressed to pass up a good ol’ truck stop meal, especially breakfast. To this day nothing brings a smile to my face quite like opening a menu and reading “breakfast served all day.”
Lucia Palmieri used to be an Executive Chef but decided that working 80 hours a week wasn’t her cup of minestrone. Very cool is that she is the lead soprano for the New York City Opera! She belted out a note so high for me that my wine glasses started shaking. Before she unloaded her bag of food for the Signature Dish Challenge, Lucia started hitting on Tony. I got worried about her sincerity. My kitchen is a place to make magic, but not that kind of magic.
Executive Chef Frank Picchione is a self-taught chef who runs his own catering business Frank Picchione Catering in New York City. He didn’t get those biceps from rattling pots and pans. Frank used to be a personal trainer. After finding out that Tony was happily married, Lucia tried to move in on Frank.
Very different kinds of backgrounds with these chefs.... I couldn’t wait to see where this was headed.
Last episode! I cant believe...miss you already Rocco. This is a great show, please do another season.
i think you were way off.liza loved the strawberries as an amuse bouche.the theatrical dining motif with all the "liza:even the naming of the dishes.she went out of her way too make the vegetarian dishes and the salad etc got many compliments. asurprise birthday celebration,to serve a plain soup with NO plating touches;even a little cinnamon sprinkles and then a beef stew? with as entree after a soup,and then a no substance merinque for desert.no imagination.no creativity,and a hunting lodge setting. i think your bias against females and chef's that prefer non vegans shows!
Sorry, Rocco! You got it WRONG, WRONG WRONG!!! There is no way that Frank got it over Lucia (sp)! I watched the entire episode twice! (Thank God for DVR's!) I have not idea how you could have even considered Frank as a winner let alone make him the winner. After a wonderful season I must say the last show was a HUGE letdown. I think you may have eaten too much:(
I love this show! I thought Frank presented well and everything looked perfect! Lucia took on too many things! I loved her voice though! Great show!!!! I am a big fan! Glad you are back Rocco!
I, too, would like to know what went wrong with the birthday cake. I saw Lucia butter the pans, but did she sprinkle flour in them before filling them to bake?
Absolutely love the show! So bummed that Antonio got kicked off- you have to have him back on the show. If the other chefs were that afraid of him after one course, imagine a whole dinner! We want to see what he can really do!
Congrats to the winner but viewers were disheartened. How can we believe the outcome of the competition if the loser puts in twice the effort, gets a majority of the rave reviews, and the guest of honor notes the adoration?
Lucia didn't fit the mold of a "Bravo Cool Kid", but she put in the work. It would have been nice to see her rewarded for the effort. Besides, aren't we all misfits in some way?
From the viewer's perspective, one guest, at her snarkiest, came out, guns blazing with a mission to dissuade all against enjoying anything in dinner party #1. Even the other guests seemed to gently chide her for the barrage of criticism.
Toothy grin notwithstanding, how does beef stew and meringue in sauce trump a 6 course meal? Viewers have a theory. It seems the producers have a mission and the competition is immaterial.
Disheartened by the outcome (and viewers seem to agree at 3-1). Congrats to the winner however, how does beef stew, meringue in sauce, and a toothy grin trump a 6 course meal.
No Lucia was not you typical "Bravo Cool Kid" but she put in the work --twice as much as the winner.
I loved Frank's comforting setting and menue choices. I think he pulled off a dinner party that was purposley understated. Liza seemed to feel the need to perform in the RED room, but in the hunting lodge she became the guest and just enjoyed the party and the company. While I was watching the show and Liza spoke of learning how to cook I though it woud be great to see an episode with celebrities cooking for the dinner party. As it was stated, cooking is very creative and I know there must be celebs that would enjoy and excell at the challenge for charity.
I'm shocked that Lucia didn't win! I'm wondering why because she so obviously out cooked Frank and just by the guests comments she clearly deserved the win. Makes me think what other factors came into play during decision making. Not sure I'll watch your show again!
I would have thought when Frank modified his squash soup he would have used vegetable stock instead of the cider. Surely Rocco would have that in his well stocked kitchen, especially when one expects a chef to do last minute changes after the marketing has been done. Lucia made Liza happy, & that is all that matters. I thought the strawberries at end & the beginning was great, decadent, throwing out the rules, like Liza. Sandra didn't need to be so critical of the dishes,especially since she gave no notice of her special dietary needs. Sure wish I could have sampled that great looking food!
You were wrong, wrong and WRONG! How could you Rocco? Lucia's dinning experience and food may not have been superior to previous contestants or even her competitor Frank. But she put thought, love and her personal touches in that meal. And aren't you always preaching about how LOVE is the most important part of the process of making a meal. What did Frank do? A basic soup, an everday stew and an overdone dessert. Ridiculous. In addition, Lucia really truly focused on making your guest of honor feel special. I think it's interesting that at the end of your blog you mention that you would have Lucia cook for you anyday! You weren't telling or asking Frank the same?! This episode was a huge disappointment and a terrible way to end the season.
I so enjoyed your dinner party honoring Liza Minilli. This is the first time I viewed your show. I must tell you however how shocked I was with your choice of winning chef. Lucia was without a doubt the outstanding chef. She took far many more chances, more creative, and what a tribute she paid to the star of your party. What is your judging criteria? I think you need a redo.
Tony was a real feast for the eyes, sorry to see him leave so early in the game! Good show, great to see Rocco back.
the one who did the least amount of work won. guess chef-dom is still a man's game. crazy while men won't cook at home, however, if they go to school for it everyone lavishes them with praise. found the series to slanted to men chefs more.
Honestly, Lucia cooked her ass off for you and your group. Most of the guests, except "Sour-Puss Sandra "Heartburn" enjoyed themselves. Her efforts were not appreciated. Whereas, what's-his-name made 3 courses which showed minimum imagination. His first course was deemed overly sweet. How could you crown that hack as the winner? I'm so disappointed in your decision. All season, you've been mostly arbitrary in defining the winner. Ridiculous...
Hate reality cooking shows..Rocco's Diner Party works .He's a good host! Rocco keep up the good work, see ya next season....
Lucia Palmieri Got ripped off .Her dinner was a six course meal looked good. ....To bad I'm just a regular mom cook I could use $20,000 .Please don't tell me just Rocco picks the winner...Is it a vote or que..
Sorry, Rocco-- you got it all wrong. It was about the total experience and frank was about his experience. Bummer way to end the season.
I just want to say that I always thought Liza Minnelli was super talented and funny from things that I had seen her on before this show. After watching this episode I realized just how NICE she was as well. She was born into entertainment royality and could have a very snobby attitude but did not seem to at all. I liked the way she appreciated the things done for her and would not complain. GO LIZA!!
I have to agree with most viewers that I couldn't understand how a basic (too sweet) soup, an average beef stew and a good dessert beat out 6 courses and that red room. The hunting lodge theme and that menu could have been for anyone. I think Frank had 3 easy dishes he could whip up and planned to do those for any dinner you asked. I like the concept of your show, however. You really seem to have mellowed since your restaurant reality show.
I liked this show a lot...watched every episode and thought that Rocco was great. I was disappointed in Liza, wow, she looked and sounded very confused and much older than 65. I can say that because I am 63, and would be embarrassed to sound like she did...
I also think Lucia did not get enough credit for really responding to the situtation. She made a special dinner for the guest of honor -- Liza Minelli. It's as though Frank had his atmosphere and menu in mind before he walked in the door at the beginning of the weekend -- he would have cooked the same thing for any theme you presented. He also would have used the same room -- what does hunting have to do with Liza Minelli? And 3 courses for this special dinner?
It's too bad Lucia had problems with her dessert -- that must have been the difference. but more credit should have been given (or taken away) for effort. The timing and skill for Lucia's menu made it much harder and much more memorable. Any cook can get soup and stew right.
Lucia should had been the winner hands down!!! The party's theme was for Liza's birthday, Not a rodeo barn show! The effort Lucia put into her meal and decor exceeded anything Frank did. Bad bad choice in the $20k winner! My boyfriend and I thought Lucia should had been the winner and we were so disappointed in the finale of your show. Lucia you are the true season finale winner in our eyes!!!
Lucia was the true winner in the last episode of this season. Her effort to design the room and planning the dinner out weighed anything Frank did for his dinner. The theme revolved around Liza's birthday not a rodeo camp out in a barn. Anyone can make stew. But not everyone can make homemade gnocchi and sauce. Granted, my boyfriend chose Frank's desert over Lucia's but since I go right for the main food, I think Lucia should had won, hands down!!! Big mistake Rocco! Sorry. I respect you, but this was a bad choice for the $20k winner! Love your show even when you make the wrong decisions.
I always enjoyed Liza Minnelli's talents and humor but in watching her birthday party I realized how kind she is. Nice to see! She was born into entertainment royality and could be a "snob" but was not at all!! = D
Liza is bold and bigger than life. She was also the "guest of honor". Lucia planned her entire menu around Liza. Her room decor was centered around Liza. She prepared 6 courses with great thought and care to please LiZa. Conversely, Frank's room theme was a "country home" (for whom)? His courses were: soup, stew and floating island. All 3 courses were basically the same thing. Unless Liza et al were toothless, I don't understand how you could reward the man for a meal that lacked contrast, texture and creativity.
I have a great idea. You should have one show where one of the chefs is Teresa from The Real Housewives of New Jersey and one of the chefs should be Cathy her cousin then throw in another person and let the party begin. Your ratings would be high, no doubt.
Rocco, you chose wrong on this one. Lucia put her heart and soul as well as some heat into the night! And Sandra Bernhard is disgusting! Liza is class all the way.
I agree with the other posters here. Lucia should have won. She stepped out of the box and created an amazing menu to please all your guests, especially Liza. Liza seemed to love everything about the menu and the room. As for Frank, he played it safe. There is no creativity in beef stew and he only served 3 courses. They could only judge 3 courses unlike Lucia's 6. She might have bitten off more than she could chew but at least she didn't play it safe. I agree with the other poster who said that Frank's room didn't not showcase Liza at all. A hunting lodge, REALLY? He didn't even seem to care about impressing her but to show what kind of dinner party he would throw. Also, I thought that it was weird that at a dinner party he served soup, stew and a soupie looking anglaise. Liquid was used in every course throughout the meal. How can you mess up stew(I make a delicious one and it's not challenging at all) and that dessert especially because he said that he makes it all the time It was a sad,unambitious menu and he was rewarded for it. . No challenge there. . At least Lucia tried unlike Frank who didn't. You really missed the mark with this one Rocco.
I really enjoyed your first season. Top Chef is one of my favorite shows and I always enjoyed you showing up! Hope there is more to come. By the way, if you will be 30 in Nov. that means you started cooking before you could walk! Impressive.
I also think Lucia should have won, that was a robbery!! Please whatever you do don't bring back Sandra Bernhart, she was awful and complained about everything. I don't think she's a 3 star chef, ewwww :( LOVE, LOVE, LOVED LIZA, what a gracious, cute funny lady. She was irresistable :)
Agree with all the comments...Liza seemed to prefer Lucia's party...think they all did except Sandra. The only thing I can think of that killed her was dessert...don't think Rocco thought much about the cake sticking and since it was a birthday there should have been cake. If only that cake worked she would have knocked it out of the park. As others have said his menu was unimaginative and not targeted to Liza. I think where he scored point was the vegetarian dishes and dessert with the candle. But in all fairness he had more time to prep.
Love this show and I hate cooking shows. The only thing I wish is that Rocco gave more insight as to why he chooses one cook over the other. Was hoping the blog would provide more insight especially for this particular party!
Love your show Rocco! I too feel Lucia should have won mainly because Liza loved it so much and it was for her birthday after all.