Like Top Chef – Only No-one Cares About The Food
Celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito hosts a new reality competition show, aptly titled Rocco’s Dinner Party. The concept centers on a cooking competition, judged by Rocco, whereby contestants are tasked with catering to guests of a small dinner party. Although the food is undeniably an important part of the show, the focus is more on the competition between the wannabes than the actual food. The food is fairly basic, although seemingly delicious, and not too difficult for an amateur chef to replicate. It isn’t complicated fine dining. The closest we come to that is the use of a puff pastry, but that isn’t made from scratch; it’s found in the freezer aisle.
Each would be Gordon Ramsey gets get thirty minutes to create a meal that will wow Rocco. The one person who doesn’t wow him enough is booted from the show. Next contestants create ambience, a menu and a shopping list for the upcoming dinner party. In some respcts it's more like a design show than a cooking show. The day of the dinner party, the competitors are given one hour to create their multi-course meal. The dinner party guests then eat the meal and are invited to be all judgmental.
The show is like poor man's Top Chef. Where the two shows differ is that unlike Top Chef, the food is judged mainly by Rocco, and not by a panel of professional and/or celebrity chefs and guests. The food’s taste, color, execution, display, etc. are not judged. The only criterion for the judging is how much the dinner party guests appear to like the food. That’s surely not the most exact of sciences, but it’s the one utilized by Rocco’s Dinner Party.
Since the show is so focused on competition of a very superficial variety, the competitors come across as harsh, vain, and unnecessarily mean-spirited. The show’s host even comes across as a Simon Cowell-lite, always hovering over the competitors and criticizing them whenever he gets the chance. The competitors are, by design, perpetually short on time and made to be so nervous that it seems like the only thing the show is about is manufacturing breakdowns, or trying to.
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However, it is quite spectacular to see the competitors carry out their craft with such consummate ease and finesse. When most people would be stressed out beyond belief, and mess up, the competitors pull through and succeed with their creations. Even the “loser” is still a winner in terms of what he/she has done, and that no one’s creations are particularly disliked. It’s only that one person’s creation is liked a teensy bit less than someone else's.
So if you are looking for a reality competition show where the competition is in focus, and the food is more of a delightful backdrop, then this is the show for you. There’s enough food on the show to serve as mouth-watering eye candy, but it won’t make you actually want to raid the fridge. It’s simply visually appealing as an accessory to the fierce competition, which is meant to be the most important part of the show anyway.
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My friends were watching this the other night as I was falling in and out of sleep, but every time I opened my eyes I couldn't believe how rude the host was. Seriously this show is non-sensical.