The freshest face of foodie television is as fiery as her cooking.
Diane DiMeo, a self-taught Astoria chef and aspiring restaurateur, is a contestant on “The Taste,” a new ABC program that teams ambitious cooks with kitchen veterans for blind taste tests, battling it out for $100,000, a car and gastronomic glory.
DiMeo, who was selected by Anthony Bourdain, best known for his show “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” calls herself the bad-boy chef’s “female equivalent.”
“I identify with him,” DiMeo said. “You love to love him and you love to hate him. He’s just that guy.”
DiMeo, who has spent the past 22 years in kitchens across New York City, said her style was crafted by trial and error and the thick skin necessary to survive as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“Women in the kitchen didn’t exist,” said DiMeo. “You were a pastry chef, but you were not an executive chef. I learned very quickly that I was going to get tough or get taken down – it’s definitely shaped my culinary style in a very renegade fashion.”
She hopes her presence as a strong, successful woman on a national cooking show creates a different identity for women hoping to make a name for themselves in the restaurant world.
DiMeo, who competed twice on Food Network’s “Chopped” and won once, said her cooking is identical to her personality – fiery and bold with global elements.
“There’s nothing wimpy about what I cook,” she said.
DiMeo moved to Astoria eight months ago, attracted to the neighborhood’s mix of authentic ethnic cuisine and new, innovative favorites.
“There’s already so much food there,” she said. “There are so many ethnicities and cultural restaurants and cuisine but it has new venues too. It’s a food scene that’s changing.”
DiMeo is currently in negotiations for a space on 30th Avenue in Astoria, where she hopes to soon open a new seafood restaurant, tentatively called Shell and Roe.