Rocco DiSpirito

Rocco DiSpirito explains why Frank won the fashion forward challenge.

on Aug 4, 2011

Sharon did something unusual -- and brave: she crusted a New York strip with espresso and grilled it. Maybe you like your express after your steak, but let me tell you, this is one helluva way to grill steak. One taste and I was hooked. I’ll be seeing a lot more of that dish.

Frank got fancy. He wrapped a generous piece of halibut with prosciutto and sage. What a way to blend and lock in flavors in an otherwise mild fish! He served it over creamy sauerkraut and sautéed Granny Smith rings. I usually like my sauerkraut tucked inside a nice meaty Reuben -- and I love every incredibly messy minute of it -- but this worked.

The real standout was Sharon. I awarded her the Signature Dish Challenge, and I sent Bill home with leftover succotash.

With Frank and Sharon left standing, I explained how they needed to translate the fashion theme into their food. They’d have to cook three courses; each course would have two versions: a “ready-to-wear” version, something easily recognizable and that everyone loves and a couture version, something handcrafted, that we’ve never seen before. I wanted them to innovate and be responsible for “designing their own line.” 

For décor, Sharon conceptualized the overall look and feel of a high-style fashion show with contrasting black and white and touches of red. Frank went for a silvery '40s glam look, like the dressing room behind the stage of a fashion show. If I were awarding prizes for décor, this one would be a tie. Second thought, I might give a slight edge to Frank, his room did feel better when we were sitting in it.

My dinner parties are very personal. I care enough about people to make sure I plan a special night for them. And so my guests last night were:

Brendan Newnam and Rico Gagliano - co-hosts of a great show on NPR called The Dinner Party Download. I knew they’d love this one and have a lot to contribute.

Katrina Szich - TV host and CBS Early Show contributor.