Cooking with the Calamaris

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Italian sisters, Delphine and Carmella, to share culinary knowledge with locals

Karen Kennedy-Hall

Look out Emeril Lagasse. Watch your back Paula Deen. There’s a new cooking show, starring two sisters from a large New York Italian family coming to town that may bump the popular Food Network stars off the air.

While Delphine and Carmella are anxiously waiting for the call from the Food Network, the Calamari Sisters are bringing episode 174 of the WFAT cable access show, “Mangia Italiano,” to the Curtis Peterson Auditorium in Lecanto at 3 p.m. Sunday and to Ocala at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Both single performances of the Italian-style cooking stage show spoof are part of the College of Central Florida Performing Arts Series.

Keeping her stage persona throughout a recent telephone interview, Delphine calls the production, “Cooking with the Calamari Sisters,” a dramatization of the (fictitious) cable access show.

“It’s an hysterical, all singing, all dancing, all cooking, musical extravaganza.”

Along with the singing and dancing, some audience members will be lucky enough to sample the dishes.

“We do make food on the show — antipasto. We do a pasta dish — chicken a la Calamari — and for dessert, we do cannoli,” Delphine Calamari said.

She said it’s like the audience is invited into their kitchen. They share family traditions and things happen.

“You know, when you come over to an Italian family kitchen, it’s a unique experience,” Delphine said.

Audiences will hear popular Italian songs such as “Amore,” “Volare” and songs by Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin and more.

“It’s just out of this world,” she said of the two-hour show.

“You’re never going to see another show like this. It’s an everyman show. You don’t need to like musicals to like our show.”

As part of their story and  bio on the website www.thecalamarisisters.com, the thirty-something women are single and live in their family’s Brooklyn home when they’re not on the road, which is most of the year.

“We’re having a wonderful time doing the show,” she said. “It’s work. We’re doing what we love. We get to cook, sing and dance.”

All interviews by the sisters are done in character, without revealing their names.

“We don’t give away those secrets,” said show creator Dan Lavender in a telephone interview. “We feel it takes away from the brand of the show.”

He said the sisters are a combination of different women.

“The best of all our Italian relatives,” Lavender said. “None of it is in bad spirit. It’s a valentine for them.”

He said because it’s a new show, audiences don’t know what to expect.

“If you like music and a good belly laugh, you’ll have a good time at the show,” Lavendar said.

Laura Wright, College of Central Florida coordinator of special events, said she heard about the show through the Broward Center of the Arts in Fort Lauderdale, where the show played last year.

“It was so popular (there) that they brought it back and we piggy-backed on their booking,” Wright said.

Visual and Performing Arts Department director Jennifer Ladkani Fryns said she heard the show is hilarious from many patrons who know or have seen the show.

“‘Cooking with the Calamari Sisters’ stands to be one of the funniest shows we have ever hosted,” she said in an e-mail.

Fryns suggests people make reservations for dinner following the performance.

“It is sure to leave their sense of humor well-fed but they may leave the theater ready to eat,” she said.