In AOL’s “Now Eat This! Italian with Rocco DiSprito” the celebrity chef travels to Italy to prepare some of the recipes in his New York Times best-selling cookbook of the same name. Every recipe clocks in at under 350 calories, but he also cooks the recipes that inspired his alongside the Italian mothers responsible.
Every episode starts with a miniature profile of the mother responsible and a walkthrough of their recipe. And since it’s Italian food, you can watch along as the calories literally pile on. But then Rocco offers his version, which is sometimes easier and comes with a hint of modernity — like using microwaves instead of furnaces or tricks from molecular gastronomy like adding xanthan gum or arrowroot to thicken liquids without adding calories.
It’s an interesting contrast, too: Rocco points out that the traditional recipes often come from the knowledge of generations of cooks passing recipes and methods down to each other. So it’s always a shock to see the taste test at the end when new takes can impress these women who’ve spent a lifetime making classic Italian food.
To emphasize the contrast even more, every episode ends with a recap of the grams of fat and calorie totals for each dish. Frequently, Rocco’s dishes have about a quarter the calories and half the fat, but never once do the dishes reach in excess of 35o calories.
Rocco’s a spirited and charismatic host (probably no surprise considering he’s hosted television programs in the past), engaging with all the mothers in (translated) Italian in a way that conveys a genuine enthusiasm for every recipe. All ten episodes are already up and zip by, whether you’re in it for healthy recipes or just wanted to give your stomach a reason to growl in fierce anticipation.