Episode 5: Everyone should get to host Melissa Joan Hart at a dinner party.
I need you to create an extra dish, based on my hit show 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch.'
This week I finally caught up on the last couple episodes of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, and on one of them, she welcomed guests Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, promoting their new film, Larry Crowne. Oprah can't stop lauding Tom Hanks' dinner party-throwing abilities, and in doing so, asks her audience to shout out who they would want to sit next to at a dinner party. Obviously someone yells Oprah, and the interactivity stops, but i think after this week's episode of Rocco's Dinner Party, I'm ready to answer Oprah's question. The answer? Melissa Joan Hart and Deborah Cox. I mean obviously everyone else is welcome too, but seriously, these two ladies were just so amusing this week, I couldn't stand it. There were so many little moments with Melissa that I can't even point out, but… just watch again. Amazing. The only downside of this week's episode was that there was no dance party. I love watching Melissa Joan Hart dance. If you don't know what i'm talking about, watch Drive Me Crazy and the accompanying video for Britney's song by the same name. My last comment on "Melly J" as one of my editors called her while we were watching was her awesome comment about it being insulting to a chef to ask for salt. This is quite a debate we've had in the office, but I agree with Melissa. if you need salt, obviously go for it, but it does send a message to the kitchen that their seasoning wasn't quite right.
Anywaaay, in the Signature Dish Challenge, New York-based vegan chef Ayinde Howell got the boot for an over-seasoned seitan dish. Honestly, I was interested to see what Ayinde would have created for the dinner party. Fortunately for me, the other two chefs, Corey and Nicole, more tha made up for the curiosity. This week's theme? Town and Country. Corey had to create his idea of a country meal, while Nicole got 'Town." Rustic versus refined. Caviar vs. farm-fresh eggs. You get the picture.In addition to their planned menu, the chefs were surprised by Artisinal's Terrance Brennan, who taskted them with creating cheese course. Rocco's response to Corey's dish was proably more unbridled than we've seen all season, but honestly his Fried Saint-Marcellin Cheese with Swedish Country Lingon Berries just sounded delicious, and apparently it was. Overall, Corey created a lot of items in a very short amount of time -- his own bread, jam -- which he provided as a take-away, and more. Not all of the guests were in love with his country decor, but in the end, his total dinner party experience edged out Nicole's. I was worried that he did too many things and it would hurt him. I actually had a flashback to the Top Chef Season 1 finale where Tiffani Faison actually lost to Harold Dieterle because she provided too many options, and some fell short. This time, though, Corey's entrees seemed to be his only downfall, and they weren't bad enough to cost him the win.
While the guests seemed jovial and pleased with Nicole's Spring in New York theme, her dishes just weren't quite right. Not only was there a sort of "been there, done that" vibe to her design direction (Jes Gordon shares more on this in her blog), but tuna tartare? Sure, it's a crowd pleaser, but it's also kinda boring. And it wasn't a tartare. The soup accompanying her cheese course was cold, and she almost burned down the kitchen! (I exaggerate obviously.) Deborah's "blue" beef was probably the tipping point, though. Rocco is big on asking guests how they'd like their meat cooked. Not only did Nicole not do that but she gave her rare meat when she usually it's eat well-done!I honestly wasn't sure who would win (OK, that's not true -- the minute Nicole selected frozen lobster over fresh, I had my doubts), but in the end, Corey edged out Nicole, taking home the $20K. And we all won with a little more Melissa Joan Hart in our lives. On a sidenote, here's a pic with me and some friends and Mo Rocco, who performed at my college. He signed my book. And that's all.
Leave your comments about this week's episode below, and unti next week, Have a Nosh!