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The Restaurant
Posted to Teevee at 11:14 PM on Aug 9, 2003

So I did finally catch an episode.

It was the second or third; I'm not sure which. Funny, when I was done, I had the urge to charge some Coors Light on my Amex card. It's a big commercial, in part. In one subtle (not!) scene, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, the owner of the restaurant, realizes he's going broke and chirps, "Let's request a line of credit from American Express!".

The other part? Rocco acting like a jerk. Rocco acting like a jerk to his staff. Rocco acting like a jerk to his customers. And Rocco making boob jokes to the New York Post food critic. Shows like this one and Cook's Tour are kind of telling; chefs don't have much personality on cooking shows but let one loose with a minimum of writing and production, and you learn a whole bunch of interesting things.

And does Rocco cook? Just wondering, because either he is, or he's the world's highest paid maitre d'. He spends not one second of this episode actually working in the kitchen. He wanders around, mostly, macking on female customers.

It's a big tacky commercial, but am I watching tomorrow night? Heck yeah. I wanna see if his staff walks out.

On Episode 4, Rocco becomes Super Rocco. But first he continues to act like a jerk. The bartender, Lola, after a particularly bad night, goes and quits without telling Rocco; Rocco calls her up and schmoozes her in that smarmy, greasy way of his and (get this) offers her a Vespa, if she'll come back. Now, what kind of dumbass with an already pissed-off staff goes and gives someone a Vespa, knowing full well they're going to hear about it? And what he does to one waiter who falls and breaks his elbow and has to wear a sling? Damn near criminal.

So two staffers quit, Rocco's partner is very unhappy, and the Post gives him a really bad review. He's at a breaking point. Now, I'm not a fan of reality television; I've never watched The Bachelor or Joe Millionaire (okay, I'm lying. I watched Joe. And loved every sleazy minute) and never really understood what someone meant when they said that the editing was responsible for making the participants look like jerks. If they look like jerks, I thought, it was because they were jerks. But now I get it. Because in the most contrived sequence ever devised on reality television, Rocco goes in the kitchen (a chef in a kitchen! What a novel idea!) and his back of the house staff, who are also pretty pissed off, just stand and stare in amazement. That's quite an achievement, filling several hundred orders himself.


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