Rocco DiSpirito may have made a name for himself as a reality TV hothead on “The Restaurant,” but that was a long time ago. These days, the 44-year-old triathlete and “Dancing with the Stars” alum is kicking back (slightly) with his new show “Rocco”s Dinner Party.” Chefs compete for the $20,000 prize awarded on each episode, each one trying to create the ultimate dinner party for Rocco and some high profile friends. Rocco”s out of the kitchen this time, but he revealed that”s just fine with him in a conference call. “It”s a little weird, but it definitely good for me to take a little off my plate,” says DiSpirito, who got out of the restaurant business in 2009. “But this is possibly the best job on television. I get to host a dinner party on television, I don”t have to cook and there”s no check at the end.” While we know why he”s enjoying the gig, here are a few reasons you might want to watch when the show premieres June 15 at 11 p.m. EST and moves to its regular time slot of Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on June 22.
It”s not like other food competitions: “This couldn”t be more different than every other cooking show out there,” Di Spirito says. “This is the only one that celebrates why we cook, not how we cook. Most focus on technique, ingredient and the passion of the chefs. This is about why people cook. We want to have real human moments.” Because chefs must host a dinner party, not just put pretty food on a plate, DiSpirito selects a winner based on which party is a bigger hit with his guests. “It”s not always the best chef who wins.”
There”s a winner every week: Because every episode is self-contained, viewers don”t have to check in for the long haul. With a winner on every show, you can kick back and enjoy the party, too.
DiSpirito (or at least Bravo) has interesting friends: Some of the stars who”ll be in attendance include DL Hughley, Jeffrey Ross, Mo Rocco, Melissa Joan Hart, Michael Ian Black, Cat Deeley, Sarah Bernhard, Kenneth Cole and Marvin Hamlisch. Oh, and don”t forget Liza with a Z. “There”s no question that the Liza Minnelli [65th birthday] party is other worldly,” says DiSpirito, noting that Minnelli had such a good time she spontaneously sang and danced. “I had to pinch myself a few times.”
The guests will be whooping it up: The competing chefs will be sweating it out, but the dinner party guests won”t be. “In the first episode, there”s a great Kelly Choi comment about sucking it,” DiSpirito says. “By the third course, people are really letting their hair down.”