In last week’s column, we wrote about our dinner with Scott Dunlop, creator and producer of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and its various spinoffs. We only had room to relate a portion of the actual conversation and courses. After all, it was a four-hour dining experience at Tradition by Pascal.
So, here’s Part 2 of our dinner with Scott Dunlop.
As we dined, the conversation naturally steered itself to “The Real Housewives” …
“It’s a popular show,” said Scott as we enjoyed our appetizer courses. “As the guy who created it, I know how the public feels and how the critics react. It’s such a simplistic show, but people have strong opinions about it and I find it interesting that people are so engaged in it. You can like it, you can hate it, but you can’t ignore it.”
Before we had a chance to reply, three more dishes appeared at the table: Beet Salad with hazelnuts, Brioche and Warm Goat Cheese, and a Walnut Vinaigrette Salad with poached pears, endives, and sweet mustard dressing.
“This beet salad is gorgeous,” exclaimed Stasha.
“I’ll eat mine and the rest of yours,” said Scott as he reached for the endive salad.
“Shall I open your wine?” asked our server.
“The Prisoner,” Stasha announced, handing the bottle to Pascal “What do you think?”
“You are taking a big chance—if I don’t like it, I’ll take it back to the kitchen,” joked Pascal as he took a sip. “Hmmm…it’s good. Almost too young.”
“It needs to have a longer sentence,” agreed Stasha.
“Should be a felon,” added Scott.
“Its been given time off for good behavior,” I countered.
“It’s on parole—California’s budget problems guarantee prisoners early release,” laughed Scott. “Pascal, I can’t wait to get the housewives into your restaurant. Although, I can see it now—your cuisine will end up creating peace and harmony between the housewives. People will wonder why they aren’t stabbing each other with forks.”
I chuckled as another dish arrived.
“Our house specialty—Chilean Sea Bass, with thyme herb crust and white wine cream sauce.”
We all took a bite, then looked at one another in delight.
“This is the most delicate fish I’ve ever had,” both Stasha and Scott said in unison.
“It’s like butter,” I added.
“While you enjoy that, look at the menu and tell me what else you like,” said Pascal. “Or, if you cannot make up your mind, there is something cooking for you.”
As soon as Pascal returned to his kitchen, Stasha motioned for the server.
“I need you to divulge the secret—what is he making?”
“That’s what I was going to order,” said Stasha emphatically.
“It’s all about you,” teased Scott.
“No, it’s all about the women,” admonished Stasha, wagging her finger.
“That’s true. The primary decision makers are women—and television is a woman’s medium,” stated Scott. “I wanted ‘Real Housewives’ to be funny, like ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ with self-deprecating humor. I wanted to make fun of my neighbors and myself. I always felt that if the first cast in the first season worked, and the alchemy was there to get everything out of it that I had envisioned, it had a shot. I felt I had a good cast of women who aspire to be actresses but are not, although there is a presumptive position that because they are in front of a camera, they are actors. You can call it a documentary, or a docu-soap, but at the end of the day, is it entertaining? Right now it is. So, why is America watching this over a scripted show?”
We were interrupted by the arrival of our main courses: duck, rabbit, and rack of lamb.
“This is the best duck I’ve ever had,” declared Scott.
“Same with the lamb,” I agreed between bites.
“Oh, Pascal—the rabbit,” sighed Stasha, obviously pleased with the dish.
“It’s the rabbit’s last supper, so I cook with the best the rabbit can get—white heirloom carrots. The secret is braising the rabbit in white wine overnight,” explained Pascal.
“Get him drunk to soften him up,” I chuckled.
“It’s outstanding. Please try some,” Stasha said, offering her plate to us.
“You’re being very democratic in a republican area,” Scott noted.
“When there’s a wealth of food, it would be stingy not to,” Stasha replied cheekily.
“Wow. You know, people say rabbit tastes like chicken. I wish chicken tasted like this rabbit,” Scott observed.
Our server appeared with a selection of cheeses, and – although we professed to being full – Pascal brought us a White Chocolate Soufflé with ice cream and raspberry coulis.
“This has been a fantastic experience,” said Scott contentedly.
“Really unbelievable,” chimed in Stasha.
“Thank you, Pascal,” I smiled. “Whether its Brasserie or Tradition, it’s always an amazing evening.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
“You know, Pascal,” said Stasha with a gleam in her eyes, “Perhaps the only thing better than having the Real Housewives in your restaurant is having real foodies like us at your table.”
Scott turned to us and grinned.
“Hmmmm…The Real Foodies. Now that’s got syndication potential.”