On the new Food Network reality series "Family Style," siblings Joey and Melissa Maggiore launch a new restaurant in California.
10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25 2010 on the Food Network.
Tomaso Maggiore will host viewing parties at Tomaso's and Tommy V's Osteria Pizzeria (both at 32nd Street and Camelback Road, Phoenix) during a 7:30 p.m. airing of show and at the 10:30 p.m. broadcast. More info: 602-955-8900, 602-956-0836.
The Maggiore name is a familiar one to Valley foodies: Their pop, Tomaso Maggiore, runs Tomaso's, one of the Valley's most respected eateries.
"We owe everything to him," Joey said, calling from California. "As a master chef, as a best friend, as the best restaurateur I've ever met in my life. That man can turn anything into gold."
"I learned the passion for food and for people and for life from him," she said. "I realized the importance that a good meal can bring to your life. It's more than something you simply put into your stomach."
But "Family Style" isn't a love letter to their dad, though he will make appearances on the show. Instead, it's built around the contrasting personalities of the siblings, who moved to California separately in the 1990s. For example, the two are asked which one is most like their father.
"Well, I can tell that you I'm the most liked by our father," Joey announces.
"Shut up!" Melissa yells on the other line.
There you have the big hook to the show. Joey, 34, is a prankster who loves being the center of attention. He talks with a bada-bing energy, even though he grew up along the Camelback corridor. Melissa, 38, is serious and more subdued, though she is playful with her brother. The two have a natural chemistry that works on camera.
"We'd be lying if we told you we get along all the time," she said. "But at the end of the day, we're each other's biggest fan and each other's biggest critic."
Melissa isn't such a huge fan of Joey's in the first episode. In one sequence, he surprises her with a gigantic inflatable gorilla that he tethers outside the restaurant to announce its grand opening. Not exactly the classy image for which she was going.
"He's always trying to torture me," Melissa said. "I was a stress case, and there he was, trying to push my buttons. He knew I would hate that thing."
Their yin and yang almost seems like it's played up for the cameras, but the Maggiores say they're simply being themselves.
"We are kind of just bigger than life," Melissa said. "We're Sicilian. We're loud. We have a sense of humor. If anything, the word to come down from the network has been 'can you tone it down a bit?' But this is who we are."
She did have one fear before filming started.
"I was always concerned that I was going to be portrayed as a bitch, but I'm not," she said "When you're a woman and you're assertive, you get called that. When Joey's assertive, he's a good businessman."
Joey, on the other hand, is completely loose on camera. In the pilot, he even strips off his shirt to reveal multiple gold chains and a colorful tattoo - hey, he's Italian!
"People say you think with cameras in our face all the time we'd be nervous, but you're always putting on a show as a chef," Joey said. "We just hadn't done it in front of a camera before."
"Every day when you deal with customers, they in the big scheme of things become your audience," Melissa said. "Anyway, Joey always lives his life as if there were cameras around, anyway."
And the affectionate bickering continues, though you can tell these two really enjoy each other.
"At the end of the day, nobody is going to have your back like family," Joey said. "We can be screaming at each other, but 10 minutes later we'll be talking about where we'll meet for dinner. We've never had a fight where we didn't talk for more than an hour."