Celebrity chef Jonathan Scinto — better known as Chef Jonathan — is putting Long Island families on television worldwide.
Scinto held a premiere party for the first season of “Family Kitchen Revival” at G’s Dance and Night Club in West Hempstead on Nov. 19. The show, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video, features eight local families, each sharing their stories of hardship. During a day with the chef, the families will prepare a meal for community members who lent them support.
Casting for “Revival,” which started in early May, moved along quickly, Scinto said. At the Nassau County Strawberry Festival May 30-June 2 in Bellmore, Scinto held a final open casting call. It had a “great response,” he said. Dozens of fans posed for pictures with Chef Jonathan, remembering him from the Food Network and “Chopped” fame.
As the casting call drew to a close, Scinto had families recruited from across Long Island, he said. The first season will consist exclusively of Long Islanders.
“The show will be an opportunity for people on Long Island to tell their story,” said Sal Conca, the show’s executive producer. “I think people tend to bury their struggles, but this will be a way for them to thank the people who helped them.”
Scinto said he understands that sharing your personal struggles, especially on television, is difficult. “Relying on others is not easy to do,” he said. “To say, ‘I need help,’ is a humbling thing.” He encountered families’ triumphs over severe illnesses or heavy financial burdens — many had to start over with next to nothing. “It’s the hardest thing to do,” he said, but it will “absolutely help others open up more.”
The day will start with a shopping trip to a local grocery store. The goal, he said, is to “revive” a family dish — not to completely reimagine the dish, Scinto said, but to offer tips and tricks on cooking it. If a family uses canned or frozen vegetables, for example, they’ll be urged to consider the fresh alternatives.
The revived dish will be served to the families’ closest supporters. “It’ll be a family feast — something that comes from the heart,” Scinto said.
“Every family has food in their roots,” Conca said. “For happy times and for sad times, food brings people together.”
Conca and Joe Kane, the show’s director, also Long Island natives who started Tough Monkey Productions, the company producing “Family Kitchen Revival,” expressed their enthusiasm for keeping the first season at home. “It’s a nice thing, to give back to the communities,” Kane said.
Filming began in July and the show will stream on Roku TV and Samsung TV Plus, which have hundreds of thousands of users, Scinto said.