Tag Archives: Chef Rossi

Focus: Rumson-Raised ‘Punk Rock Queen of the Jews’ Rossi’s Homecoming

Who says you can’t go home again?

Oh, it’s been said, but clearly not by anyone who ever knew the RFH grad and famed raging skillet full of chef, author, playwright and punk rock queen of the Jews known as Rossi. Yes, that’s a mouthful of matzo ball soup with a little “L’Chaim!” on the side.

Continue reading Focus: Rumson-Raised ‘Punk Rock Queen of the Jews’ Rossi’s Homecoming

Living the Dream: Staying Authentic with Another Memoir from RFH Grad Rossi

Does the world really need another memoir?

It’s a question with which famed New York City caterer, author and playwright of The Raging Skillet known as Rossi — we’ll get to her real name later — grappled. Originally, the wild child and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) graduate of a different kind figured the answer was a hard “Yes.” After all, when it’s all about how a gay Jewish punk rock queen plucked the jewels out of her own crown, who could resist?

After ingesting too many opinions like a bad bowl of matzo ball soup — as if there could be such a thing — it was Rossi’s healing try at third-person fiction writing of her story that opened a buried crown-induced wound leading to a full-on bleed-out. It was when she doused the wound in hydrogen peroxide’s purifying sting that its authenticity got an air-out healing in what became her second memoir — The Punk Rock Queen of the Jews.

After all, she figured, the world could really use a good dose of what it takes to pull those jewels out of the crown of a 1981 Crown Heights experience as a not-so-good Jewish girl. Who couldn’t use a story of endurance and hope simmering under a heap of authenticity?

So, the second Rossi memoir, sans recipes and the more silly, albeit unbelievable, misadventures, was launched last week with a reading in New York. Now Rossi is coming home again to the Rumson-Fair Haven area with a reading, signing and gathering of hometown friends and townies at River Road Books in Fair Haven on Thursday, May 2, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m..

Continue reading Living the Dream: Staying Authentic with Another Memoir from RFH Grad Rossi

RFH Grad Chef Rossi Sheds Some Sweet & Salty on ABC

Chef Rossi, the RFH girl gone self-made anti-chef/caterer, blogger and author of the recently-debuted The Raging Skillet made her own kind of special splash on network television over this past weekend in a spot on ABC news about fun kiddie snacks — and she wasn’t talking about dishing up anything healthy.

After all, she is the anti-chef. So, true to form, an unfiltered Rossi talked about some salty sweet snacks that probably had health-conscious mommies trying to feed their kids kale and broccoli disguised as chicken fingers scrambling for the remote while drooling.

It’s all about repurposing and lifting the lowbrow up a notch, as she puts it, with Rossi’s recipes. Doing things like serving peanut butter and bacon sandwiches among a platter of cascading orchids is part of her foodie purpose.

Rossi talked about those peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, a potato chip, Snickers and marshmallow casserole, chocolate-dipped pretzels,chocolate dipped chips rolled in crushed Froot Loops, pastrami reuben tacos with Michelle Charlesworth.

Click here to check it out!

Yes, there was a little blackout and, yes, she did say that about the casserole. Oh, and P.S., she said as soon as they were done everyone glommed onto the snacks like kids to an Good Humor truck with free ice cream. Well, maybe not quite like that, but close.

For more information on Chef Rossi and to order her book, click here.

Retro Rumson Barn Theatre’s ‘Cinderella: A Flash Fantasy’

With the recent revisiting of Chef Rossi to her RFH and Barn Theatre roots, images of a show she worked on were once again conjured up.

It was a David Bowie/punk rock-inspired children’s theatre show done at The Barn in 1979 (or was it ’80?) that offered a colorful twist on the Cinderella story — Cinderella: A Flash Fantasy.

Set to Bowie, B52s, Blondie and a little Rocky Horror Picture Show music, memories of the show came spewing forward last week as most of the cast reunited at Rossi’s book signing.

It offered a special memory for Rossi, who was quickly adopted by this theatre tribe when she didn’t quite fit in with the status quo at RFH. Her bud Jeni Weber Zeller brought her to The Barn and she never left.

She worked tech crew on the show and made lifetime friends. A lot of people did, including this editor. In fact, Rossi’s book signing/reunion ended much like a typical cast party at Barnacle Bill’s decades later.

So, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day offers a glimpse back to that time at The Barn and that show.

Guess who? Yes, it’s me as the Tina Turner evil step sister trying to cram that glass slipper on. Oh, and that’s Anne Toronto McNamara offering some help.

“We were children doing children’s theater,” said the show’s Cinderella, Andrea Puscell last week. Somehow I don’t think this show would fly as children’s theater in today’s climate. Ironic.

The show also featured many RFHers. Check out the program. Do you know what Bowie song was played for the curtain call?

Chef Rossi: A Full Circle RFH Homecoming

By Elaine Van Develde

“I want you to know that I am so sorry I didn’t make the effort to get to know you in high school,” a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) graduate said to classmate Chef Rossi last Thursday after the reading and signing of her book, The Raging Skillet: The True Life Story of Chef Rossi … at River Road Books in Fair Haven. “I’m ashamed to say that I was one of those girls. And, yes, I was afraid of your Sex Pistols t-shirt.”

That was Lisa Malle Pritchard fessing up — owning who she didn’t even realize she was or if she even was. But who it was didn’t really matter to Rossi. It was what she said and when she said it that mattered.

The comment came in a very modest tone from that one blushing RFH prepster sandwiched in one corner of the room that was filled with RFH grads, the defunct but ever-enduring Barn Theater’s tribe, and a few nouveau admirers from afar and now close up.

In a real turnabout in perspective and persona from RFH 1970s, when she was the one who dropped many a jaw, the comment was met by touched, gape-mouthed Rossi and a demure “Oh, my God. Wow. Thank you so much for that. Moments like this make it all worthwhile. Can I give you a hug?”

And she did.

It was one of those awww/aha moments. For Rossi, the anti-chef, anti-preppy who was and is immersed in both worlds by default and devastating talent, things had come full circle with her homecoming. She was home again and everyone was feeling at home with her.

The moral of the Rossi story, which is one she promises there will be yet another book to explain and cook to, is that, yes, you can come home.

And not only can you come home, but you should, as she sees it.

“The real truth is that I wasn’t all those things that you were so afraid of back then,” the raging anti-chef said, pointing out that there was plenty of “Oreo crack” left to munch on. “I was just a little Jewish girl who liked Barbara Streisand.

” … Luckily, I was blessed with an enormous amount of chutzpah and a filthy mouth.”

Yes, you can come home, according to Rossi, especially this home. The theory is a Wizard of Oz sort of combo. It has something to do with always having had the power and not having to look any farther than your own back yard for what was in your heart all along — or something like that.

As Rossi put it, aside from her life highlight moment of Susan Sarandon eating her sun dried cranberry on the money spot (go ahead, figure that one out) …

“I’ve been going around the country on this book tour, but this is the stop that really pulled at my heartstrings. I graduated from RFH. I’ve got a lot of my buddies here today. So, even though I ran away from (this) home, got sent to live with the Chassids and other stories along the way, you know, every time I come back here I do feel like I’m coming back home. You’ve made that all possible.”

And so Rossi’s story goes, because, as someone in the audience piped up, “We love you,” followed by a usual cast (of characters) party at Barnacle Bill’s.

Home. Sweet … Oreo Crack and sea salt brownies.

Check out the slideshow above for a glimpse into the evening with Chef Rossi.

For more information, see her website by clicking here

You can also buy her book at River Road Books in Fair Haven.


Chef Rossi: Retro Portrait of an RFH Punk Rocker

Yes, Rossi, as we all know her, is coming home to RFH land tonight!

The RFH grad and premier “anti-chef” of the hipster Brooklyn scene has written a memoir about her not so Orthodox Orthodox Jewish upbringing in a preppy Rumson comprised of short stories accompanied by relevant recipes.

Rossi was a kinky-haired, butt-smoking punk rocker with a raucous mouth in a Lilly Pulitzer RFH world in the 1970s and early 80s. Her look wasn’t one that people in these parts were exposed to very often. Neither was her “I am who I am” attitude. She’s still rocking it — in a more staid way, but definitely rocking.

So, it’s only right that the Retro Pic(s) of the Day pay homage to the RFH friend, star caterer, author and master of many other things — like, from day one, being her authentic self and being damn good at it.

Check her out in these priceless pics from her ol’ RFH days. Kids! The middle shot is of her and her infamous not-so-Rumsonite parents, Marty and Harriet. Oh, and by the way, the double shot is her RFH yearbook pic. Yes, we know, most RFH yearbook pics are taken in a natural setting and I can’t recall any, except this one, in which the grad sporting wearing pink feather earrings. It was usually Monet or pearl studs. And, where’s the Fair Isle sweater and turtle neck??

Rossi rocked the anti-prep look!

— Elaine Van Develde

Chef Rossi’s RFH Homecoming: A Raging Skillet Full of Authentic

By Elaine Van Develde

Once upon a time, in a Rumson-Fair Haven world overrun with preppy pink and chartreuse, Lilly Pulitzer, alligator shirts, Fair Isle sweaters, khakis, topsiders and duck boots, there was a  pint-sized butt-smoking, brash-talking punk rocker with kinky hair and a Cheshire cat grin who packed a punch full of wild on the status quo.

Continue reading Chef Rossi’s RFH Homecoming: A Raging Skillet Full of Authentic