On Monday, August 23rd, I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with a brother and sister team starting a new show on Food Network. Siblings Joey and Melissa Maggiore are the stars of Food Network’s new primetime series, Family Style, premiering Thursday, August 26th at 10:30 pm ET/PT. Despite approaching life in completely opposite ways, this “odd couple” of the restaurant world, share the same goal: to make their new Italian restaurant, Tommy V’s, in Carlsbad, California a success.
Melissa is a hard-working traditionalist and at times finds it challenging seeing eye-to-eye with Joey, a wild card without a filter. While trying to pull off everything from speed-dating events to extravagant wedding rehearsal dinners, Joey can drive Melissa crazy with his pranks and antics, but at the end of the day, these talented restaurateurs pull through together in true Family Style.
“Speed Dating Disaster” (premiering Thursday, August 26th at 10:30 pm ET/PT – SERIES PREMIERE)
- With business slowing down at Tommy V’s, Melissa and Joey Maggiore set up a speed-dating event featuring aphrodisiac appetizers to attract young, hip clientele. Joey hopes the event will help his shy cousin Jimmy get lucky with the ladies, and the prankster secretly signs his single sister up for the event as well.
“Rappin’ Restaurant” (premiering Thursday, September 2nd at 10:30 pm ET/PT)
- To create some buzz around their new restaurant, Tommy V’s, Melissa Maggiore invites the local movers and shakers to a VIP wine tasting, but her brother Joey’s idea is a bit more extravagant: create a special rap video about the restaurant. Joey decides to secretly recruit his cousin Jimmy to help produce the video and play it for the guests during the wine tasting. Will Melissa let it slide if she sees the guests enjoy it, or will Joey’s idea completely tank?
“Bridezilla and the Lamb” (premiering Thursday, September 9th at 10:30 ET/PT)
- Siblings Melissa and Joey Maggiore have two very important parties to plan for their family: a wedding rehearsal dinner at Tommy V’s and a birthday party at Melissa’s house. Things fall flat when the future bride decides she wants an over-the-top Mexican fiesta and not the Italian fare the Maggiores prepared. Meanwhile, Joey and Melissa must throw a party for their families, so Joey surprises them with a whole roasted lamb.
“Smokin’ Joey” (premiering Thursday, September 16th at 10:30 pm ET/PT)
- While he’s proud of his Italian heritage, Joey Maggiore follows his all-American dream of becoming the king of barbeque by entering a local barbecue festival. Before Joey competes, he decides to test his barbecue sauce in front of Tommy V’s while Melissa is out of town. Departing from her traditional Italian menu causes Melissa’s blood to boil, but she returns to a surprise when customers start raving about Joey’s special recipe.
“Family Face-Off” (premiering Thursday, September 23rd at 10:30 pm ET/PT)
- When Melissa Maggiore can’t convince her brother to cook for a private charity dinner, she challenges him to a bet: they’ll each create a new dish for Tommy V’s menu and their father will decide which dish is best. If Melissa wins, Joey must cook for the charity dinner, and if she loses, she’s on dishwashing duty all night. Either way, somebody will end up doing the dirty work.
Here are a few of my favorite questions and answers from the conference call:
Everyone has a guilty pleasure – that one food you eat when no one is around. What is yours?
Joey: I got so many. I guess mine would be a testata cake. We make a traditional, Sicilian cheesecake called testata – basically a cannoli filling in a cake. That’s my guilty pleasure, every night I try to sneak one in. [laughs]
Melissa: I’m trying to think what mine would be -
Joey: Yours is coffee, all day long. Coffee, coffee, coffee.
Melissa: Yeah but that’s not a guilty pleasure. You know what I do, and I try to sneak it, I shouldn’t feel guilty about this, but cheese. I eat cheese – my chefs find me in the walk-in sometimes; I hide in the walk-in and I go through the cheese and eat all the gorgonzola and the bleu cheese, and as soon as they walk in I take my hand away. I don’t know why I feel guilty about it, I guess cheese isn’t the most healthy thing in the world and I’ll probably pay for it later, but gorgonzola and bleu cheese are my guilty pleasure.
How do you get your kids to try new foods?
Joey: For me, growing up, in our restaurant we were always trying new foods. The kids, since they’re at the restaurant, are always eating new foods. My kids at one years old were trying to chomp down on octopus and different things, just like Melissa’s. I eat everything so we don’t really have that problem, we don’t have a picky eater yet. [laughs]
Melissa: I have a picky eater, and I think the answer is early exposure. Joey and I grew up in the restaurant, so we were exposed to these foods, so there wasn’t anything different about them. I think kids tend to not eat things that are boring to them, but when you’re exposed to them at such an early age, they’re no longer foreign. My daughter has been eating everything, she has a really mature appetite for her age, she’s twelve now, but has always eaten all sorts of things. My son is four, and let me tell you, restaurant or no restaurant, gourmet or no gourmet, I make my child macaroni and cheese sometimes, he eats peanut butter and jelly [laughs], and I’m telling you, he eats chicken fingers. And as you know, at the end of the day, you’ve got to put food down. I’ve had to swallow my pride and just realize that I’ve got an all-American kid, and he wants some of these things. I don’t have the answer, but if you do find it, please call me back and let me know. [laughs]
What is the best or worst prank Joey has ever pulled? Best or worst, depending on what side you’re on.
Melissa: The worst prank Joey’s ever pulled? In my life, and this one’s just downright mean. I was at home one day, and my brother came over, and he had these lottery tickets —
Joey: [hysterical laughter]
Melissa: and he said to me, Oh I got these lottery tickets. So I was like, Why is he giving me a lottery ticket? And he says, You never know Melissa, we might win. Well let me just preface this by saying that I was going through some problems – I just got divorced, picking up pieces of my life, could’ve used the extra money – and I scratched the ticket and I couldn’t believe it! I had to rub my eyes a couple times. It looked like I won $100,000 or something. And I started crying, I was so excited. And I looked at Joey – it was a fake lottery ticket. I’ve never been so mad in my life.
Ooh that’s awful, Joey.
Joey: [still laughing] Yeah, you know, we had a few laughs.
Melissa: And in terms of pranks on the show, take your pick. Joey made me eat raw cow tongue, he made me eat this digusting crockpot thing, so believe me, every day is like torture.
Joey: No the funniest one was the funnel trick. You’ve got to tell her about the funnel trick.
Melissa: Oh, the funnel – I’ve tried to forget that.
Joey: So there’s this trick in the restaurant, where I told her, Look, if you can grab a quarter and put it on your head, tilt your head back with a funnel in your pants, if you tilt your head down and get the quarter in the funnel, you win ten bucks. Well while they tilt their head back and shut their eyes, you get a jug of water and pour it down the funnel, so it goes down their pants. We actually got taht one on camera so it was pretty funny. [laughs]
Melissa: Yeah, except that I was working that night and I had to go back out there with wet pants, like a wet crotch area. It was terrible.
Are there any signature dishes of Tommy V’s that you could tell me about?
Joey: The signature dish over here I think is pretty short ribs and the most popular dish is the short ribs and the Palo wine with carrots and onions. We braise it for a couple of hours and serve it with some homemade spinach gnocchi which is delicious and it’s our biggest seller. And besides that one I think, I don’t know Melissa, what do you think is the biggest seller?
Melissa: I think in addition to that, because that is our biggest seller, I think all of our pizzas, we make fantastic pizzas here that you know you would get in Italy and they’re delicious and then we have our osso bucco that is also one of our big sellers.
I am really excited to check out this show on Thursday night! Be sure to tune in for the Season Premiere of Family Style on Thursday, August 26th at 10:30 pm ET/PT!!!!
I received no compensation for this post. All opnions expressed in this post are 100% mine.