Review: Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin on Cooking Channel

I finally got a little more quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time around Extra Virgin.

From Cooking Channel’s web site:

Actress Debi Mazar and her Italian husband, Gabriele Corcos, invite you into their home as they share their tremendous passion for Tuscan food and for each other. She’s a modern girl from the streets of Queens and he’s a food purist from the hills of Tuscany. It’s Lucy and Ricky in the kitchen as the two food lovers share ideas, haggle, and finally compromise to create the perfect Tuscan American blend all the while providing important lessons that you just won’t find in your average cookbook. Prepare for total immersion into their passionate, spirited life as they show you how on a daily basis anyone in any kitchen can blend the simple traditions of Tuscany with modern life in America.

I have been wanting to catch Extra Virgin because I have always found Debi Mazar strangely exotic.  There’s just something about the raven colored hair and sapphire eyes mixed with that Jersey Girl moxie that I think is sexy.  For his part, Gabriele Corcos comes across as a rock solid foodie.  He’s a proponent of local, sustainable food just like everyone else in Tuscany and knows how to communicate his passion to an American audience.  The show is shot at a fourteenth-century house outside of Florence that was given to them as a wedding present by Corcos’ parents.

But . . .

Though the food elements of the show are terrific it is only part food show.  It is also part reality show – a Kardashian-like celebrity-at-home show and the first Debbie Mazar on Extra Virginshow like that was one show too many. Needless to say I can live without those moments.  But don’t get me wrong, it’s no “Jersey Shore.”

Mazar is eye candy for this show, the hook.  Though she does cook well enough she certainly doesn’t blow anyone away with her skills.  She does dress great though – hot pants and calf-high boots to make a salad, a skimpy black cocktail dress with plunging neckline to make a cake.  She’s always fun to look at.

Gabriele on the other hand has the makings of a true star TV chef.  He is good looking as Mazar constantly reminds the audience which kind of makes me jealous.  Who can blame her for bragging?  After all prior to marrying Corcos she dated actor Paul Rubbin who you may know better as Pee Wee Herman.  Seriously.  And as mentioned above, Gabrilele comes across smooth.  As with most Italians he was born knowing more about cooking than most of us will ever learn.  I would love to see a show that just concentrated on his clean flavors and cooking technique.

Luckily the reality elements do not distract too much.  They are careful not to have any of the trashy elements common to reality TV.  Indeed they are actually tolerable, at least as long as Mazar still dresses like a Hollywood starlet anyway. Prrrr.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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