Recently named “”Man Crush of the Day” by another site, Rocco DiSpirito is back on television with a new cooking / elimination show on Bravo. Michael Cook spoke with the hottest celebrity chef around (sorry Curtis Stone) and former Season 7 “Dancing with the Stars” contestant…
Michael: Who’s coming to ”Rocco’s Dinner Party”?
Rocco: Well, in the first episode alone, we have Bryan Batt (from “Mad Men”), Christine Ebersole (Tony Award winner for “Grey Gardens”), Marcus Sameulsson (“Top Chef Masters” Season 2 Winner), and Kelly Choi, who hosted “Top Chef Masters”. In the upcoming episodes, we have Caroline Manzo, Liza Minelli, Alan Cumming, Sandra Berhnard, Raven-Symoné the list goes on!
Rocco: This show could not be more different from the other shows. It’s really focused on why we get together and have human interaction over meals. The best chef didn’t always necessarily win - it really comes down to the person who gives the best party as a whole: presentation, food, everything. And the winner gets a check for $20,000; not bad for a nights work.
Michael: Any great moments that stick out on the show?
Rocco: Chazz Palminteri told a story about how when he wrote “A Bronx Tale”. He had $20.00 in his pocket and turned down a million dollars and his only request to sell the story was that he play “Sonny”. He tells us about the night the Robert DeNiro came in to see the play and went backstage and told him “I love this show”. He told him “I’m producing it, you’re playing Sonny, and I’m going to play you’re father”. He finishes the story by telling us how when he met Don Rickles, Don told him “Hey, nice to meet ya; you owe your career to DeNiro”!
Michael: Great stories around the dinner table. What advice would you give someone who wanted to throw the perfect dinner party?
Rocco: 1. Never run out of food or booze. 2. It’s ok to cheat – in the kitchen, that is. The kitchen is the only room in the house that it’s ok to cheat. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. 3. Most of all, have fun. Eating is truly one of the last things we do alone. Truly try to take advantage of moments like these.
Michael: Of all of the dinner parties on “Rocco’s Dinner Party”, which one was your favorite?
Rocco: Wow that’s like picking your favorite child. Picture me with Liza Minnelli, with Liza telling us stories and beginning the story with “My godfather Ira Gershwin” and spontaneously singing and dancing. Her best friend Sam Harris composed a song right on the spot about the dinner party.
Another great story is Alan Cumming, who is genius, is going to be playing Salvador Dali in an upcoming project. Liza Minnelli told a story of how she was having lunch with Dali and he had brought along a “woman” (or so she thought). When he disclosed that it was in fact, not a woman, Liza’s reaction was “REALLY”?!?
Liza revealed so much about herself during our dinner and she has more energy than I do. The only word to describe that dinner party for me is otherworldly.