Well, friends and neighbors, we’re almost at the end. This is the penultimate recap, and by this time next week Rocco will be off our TV screens, hopefully for good. You know, I’m really wishing this had been a competition-style show, with eliminations. Think of Mark Burnette’s other reality series, Survivor and The Apprentice. In either of those, Rocco would have been voted off/fired weeks ago. Can’t you just hear Big Tom drawling, “Well, he talks a good game, but he ain’t done nothin’ ‘cept talk to the girls and eat other people’s food.” Yeah, when I’m making Survivor jokes, I’m hurting for material. Two shows back to back sapped me of snark, I guess. Let’s just get on with it.
No Man Can Serve Two Masters….Without One Firing Him
It’s the start of the restaurant’s day, and head chef Tony has arrived for work. He needles a cook named Matthew (Mathieu? It looked odd, but who knows) who’s leaving for another – read better – job. Unbeknownst to Tony, he’s the topic of conversation in Jeffrey’s office, where Jeffrey and his staff are have decided to give Tony a raise, to recognize his long hours put in at the restaurant. It may also be intended to woo Tony away from Rocco’s side, but as we shall see, that’s a moot point.
Because Tony is also the topic of conversation among Rocco’s team. Unlike Jeffrey’s crew, though, Rocco is not feeling the Tony love. He thinks the kitchen under Tony’s direction lacks leadership, and that Tony has his own agenda and is almost insubordinate. I’m getting the feeling that what Rocco means is, he’s questioning Tony’s loyalty. In the movies, when Italians question someone’s loyalty, that person often finds themselves on a one-way trip to the East River. But of course that is a stereotype. Rocco merely intends to fire Tony. I knew Mark Burnett couldn’t resist at least one elimination.
But here’s the kicker – not only does Rocco want to fire Tony, he wants to replace him as chef. Rocco will do the cooking and run the kitchen, thereby saving the restaurant Tony’s salary. I have seen enough of Rocco in this season alone to foresee major problems with that plan. He does realize, doesn’t he, that being the head chef will require him to be in the kitchen, where there are no hot women, no cookbooks to sign, and the only TV cameras around are the ones for this show?
Clueless, Tony happily plots a goodbye gift for the departing Matthew – a bucket of slop to the head. This is an odd choice of ways to celebrate a co-worker’s departure. It reminds me of high school band camp hazing, where an array of foul-smelling condiments – horseradish and ketchup featured largely – were gleefully smeared on freshmen girls by the seniors. Have you ever tried to get horseradish out of your hair in a camp shower? It is not pretty, my friends.
Anyway, so I’m figuring that’s what Mathew has to look forward to, which, even in its smelliness, is a great deal more than Tony has to look forward to.
‘Celebrity Chef’ is an Oxymoron. Discuss.
Meanwhile, Italian chef Antonio, who arrived during the first episode and has been wandering around the kitchen ever since, is finally going home. Rocco sees him off with an apology for how crazy things were during his visit. Maybe next time Antonio should try visiting when a TV show isn’t being filmed.
But hey, chefs come and go, and in the restaurant, a celebrity one has arrived. Chef Jacques Pepin has come to dine. I’ve never heard of him, but then I don’t know jack about the culinary world. The closest I’ve come was a stint with a catering company in college, but mostly what I learned was how to balance a heavy tray of lamb on one arm while not letting my expression reflect that it hurt. I also had to teach a table of 70-year-olds how to do the Macarena. I still have flashbacks. We did use cloth napkins and tablecloths, though. I don’t guess that counts.
Tony, still unaware that his days at the restaurant are numbered, and that that number is one, rushes to introduce himself to Pepin. Unfortunately for Tony, Rocco chooses this moment to make a rare personal appearance, and he wants to suck up to Pepin, too. There’s no way Tony can compete with Rocco when it comes to schmoozing.
Speaking of competitions with Rocco, Jeffrey has arrived. He calls Tony to one side to tell him about his new pay raise. He whispers it in Tony’s ear, so I don’t know what the dollar amount is, but Tony looks like a happy camper.
Meanwhile, Rocco is never too busy to console a weeping woman. Seems a female customer is in tears over losing her job, and Rocco plies her with champagne and advice. Do you think he’ll be so solicitous of Tony’s welfare after he fires him? Somehow, I think not.
In the kitchen, things are busy, but not too busy to pour a foul-smelling concoction on a friend. Mathieu’s slop-dousing goes as well as can be expected
The Ax Falleth
You might think the last thing you need to do in the restaurant business is encourage people to eat. But this is not so. Restaurant staff are running constantly, and this applies to Mama as well. Poor about-to-be-fired Tony kindly makes her a steak. Little does he know that’s the last thing he’ll cook in Rocco’s kitchen, because firing time has come.
Tony is summoned to Rocco’s chambers, going like a lamb to the slaughter. He arrives to find Rocco signing cookbooks. While cookbook-signing appears to be one of Rocco’s talents, I’m surprised it’s so pressing that he’s making Tony wait while he finishes up. And by now I’d have thought he signed every copy in the print run. Maybe he’s starting back at the beginning and adding doodles.
Anyway, cookbooks safely signed, Rocco whips out Tony’s last employment review. Seems there were some areas that Tony could have improved upon, including “flattery”, “schmoozing” and the all-important “bowing and scraping.” At least, I’m guessing that’s what Rocco means by insubordination. He also throws some of the blame Jeffrey’s way, saying that Jeffrey wants Rocco to be more involved in the restaurant. Yes, but this is not quite what Jeffrey had in mind.
Tony appears to take it well. But back in the restaurant, someone has broken into his locker and dumped out its contents into a bag, while the staff tries to figure out what’s going on. Even Mama is upset. Rocco tells Tony he doesn’t want him going back to the restaurant, which seems a pointless move. Why not act like an adult and just let Tony get his stuff and say his goodbyes? At any rate, Tony doesn’t have time to go back right now, because he has locked himself in the conference room and called Jeffrey. He’s having a sit-in of one. Rocco’s talking about getting security to throw Tony out, but no need; Tony’s told he still has a job and is directed to leave the conference room, peacefully, and go to Jeffrey’s corporate office.
Tony’s firing has the staff in uproar, and several of them demand answers from Rocco. Rocco claims he’d been considering firing Tony for months, and informs them that he’ll be taking Tony’s place in the kitchen. The staff look terrified. Ok, maybe not, but they should be.
You’re Not the Boss of Me
If Rocco thought Jeffrey would be pleased at his way of taking an active role, he is wrong, as a phone call between the two proves. Jeffrey’s furious. He says Rocco shouldn’t fire employees without talking to him first, and I’ll point out here that that didn’t come up when Rocco’s employees fired that horrid waitress Jeannine. But then again, she deserved it. Anyway, Rocco informs Jeffrey that he’ll be taking over as chef, while Jeffrey bandies about words like “legal” and “ramifications.”
Tony arrives at Jeffrey’s office, still angry, and is assured he still has a job somewhere in the vast Chodorow restaurant empire. To get to that job, though, Tony evidently needs his bike, which he left at the restaurant. He fetches it, says a few goodbyes, and pedals off into the sunset.
The prospect of having Rocco running the kitchen has Jeffrey’s crew giggling with glee, figuratively speaking. They realize that Rocco has now taken on a concrete responsibility that he can’t shrug off. If he doesn’t show and do the chef’s job, the kitchen will fall apart. Jeffrey’s group realizes Rocco has enough rope to hang himself, and now they’re just waiting to see if he does.
The staff, not surprisingly, have their own doubts about Rocco’s ability to run the kitchen. Meanwhile, Rocco has been going over the kitchen’s books, and is not impressed. Jeffrey arrives to tell the staff that while he’s not happy over Tony’s firing, everything will be fine. Especially after he gets Rocco out of the kitchen – he and Luke decide it’s time to go hunting for a new chef.
They’re Real, and They’re Spectacular
Oblivious to this, Rocco arrives for chef duty. After telling Mama all about the traumatic Tony firing, Rocco settles in for a spat of actual cooking before, inevitably, going up to the dining room. I know this man knows how to cook. I know he owns another restaurant. Why can’t he get it into his head that if he’s going to take on a job, he needs to stay put and do it? Is the siren song of hot female customers that irresistible?
Apparently, it is. Rocco is actually posing for pictures, while downstairs food is moving at a pace similar to that of a snail. Customers are complaining, and the staff is already missing Tony.
But what does food matter when there are women to ogle? Specifically, women’s breasts? Rocco actually asks one woman if hers are real. Now, not to give you too much information about the wild wonderful world of Lucy, but I’ve had that question myself once or twice. And let me tell you, it’s not really considered a compliment. No matter whether a woman is naturally endowed or surgically, to ask if they’re real is to baldly state that you are staring at them to the exclusion of all else, including any intelligent conversation the woman may be making at the time. My response would be, “yes, they’re real, but you’re never getting near them.” I mean, it’s just a rude and crude question.
If Jeffrey had overheard it, he would be doubly glad he is where he is, which is at another restaurant, testing out a potential new chef, Max. Max jokes that his nickname is Red. Hey! “Red” is “rosso” in Italian, it turns out! They could hire Max the Red, and just change a few letters on the awning. They wouldn’t even need a whole can of spray paint. This must be fate.
Unwilling to give in to fate, however, Rocco is still struggling to stay in the game. By “struggling” I mean, “asked a customer about her boobs and left the restaurant early despite being the head chef.” Laurent takes it upon himself to tell Rocco that leaving early does not really scream “good leadership.” Rocco can’t argue with that, and decides he’ll cancel – well, his assistant will cancel – all his appointments for the next few days so he can concentrate solely on the restaurant. All of them? Even the book signings? Even the interviews?? I won’t hold my breath. I’m sure Rocco secretly thinks he can sign cookbooks with one hand and stir sauce with the other, and that him doing both of those things in his restaurant’s kitchen will make for great TV interviews. Until he asks the interviewer if her boobs are real.
Only one more to go! Tune in Saturday night for the finale. Unless you can think of something better to do. Like origami.
You can write me at email@example.com, but I still won’t let you look at my chest.