What I learned from Rocco DiSpirito.

At the NY Emmy Awards on Sunday night, I was lucky enough to find myself at a table with a few fine folk, including soap star Colleen Zenk Pinter, ROA’s Constantine Maroulis, and the Celeb Chef, Rocco DiSpirito.

Now, what could I, Mr. McDonald’s, learn from a guy like that?

Well, here’s what I gleaned from his garnish:

When preparing a new dish, it’s all about the ingredients.  You want the freshest peppers and the ripest tomatoes.  Put them together under the right hand and out can pop something unique that has never been tasted before.

And when you’ve got the best ingredients, you get the best dish, right?

Not so fast, says Rocco, because no matter how great the ingredients, it’s how those ingredients combine that counts.  And you just never know what that dish is gonna taste like until it’s on your plate and then in your mouth.

And shows are the same way.

There are always a few shows each season that look like sure-fire hits because of who’s billed above and below the title.  I’ll never forget buying a full price front row ticket to The Goodbye Girl.  Simon, Hamlisch, Zippell, Peters, Short . . . it’s one of the few times I’ve bought a ticket based solely on a poster.  While I’ll never forget Martin Short’s performance and I still think that the score deserved more credit than it got, the show didn’t live up to my expectations.

Unfortunately, individuals don’t make a show, just like ingredients don’t make a dish.

And unlike food, you won’t really know if a show is any good, until it’s “frozen”.

  • Richard says:

    The classic example is “Oklahoma.” Rodgers and Hammerstein, first-time collaborators. Joan who? Alfred who? Agnes DeMille on Broadway? (On the other end of the spectrum, a good example might be “My Fair Lady.” What could possibly have gone wrong with that lineup?)
    The chief problem is that most shows don’t have a head chef anymore. Most producing lineups are very deep and there’s rarely one or two people who have the strength to lead the team. (Margo Lion comes close but think of how she caved on “Step it Up” in favor of “I Know Where I’ve Been.”) Most producers are business people today; the artistic producer is largely gone. We need people with strong artistic vision who can see how the ingredients are melding. Too many people produce by the numbers. It’s very sad. We need to resurrect Florenz Ziegfeld.

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