A Long Island team of home chefs will star Wednesday in the series premiere of the cooking competition “The F Word” with Gordon Ramsay, airing live at 9 p.m. on Fox.
“We’re all cousins,” Melissa Naccarato, 42, of Lake Grove, says of the foursome, dubbed The Sexy Paesans. “We’ve been cooking together forever. Our families, the generations go back. We’re very close but we’re very competitive with each other.” Her teammates are Rob Sanicola, 32, of South Bellmore; Dawn Adams, 38, of Howard Beach, Queens; and what Naccarato calls “the goombah of all goombahs,” Christine Antonacci, 44, who lives in Nesconset and came up with the spelling of the team’s name, generally rendered as “paisan.”
“I spelled it ‘paisan,’ “ Naccarato remembers, “and Christine told me, ‘You . . . idiot, that’s not how you spell it! You spell it this way!” she says with a laugh. The “sexy” part, she adds, refers to their food. “We text each other pictures: ‘Look at this sexy filet mignon!’ Every dish we put out not only is sexy, but it’s from our hearts. You gotta feel it when you eat.”
The longtime hairdresser / colorist — an Ozone Park, Queens, native who moved to East Islip at age 15 with her mother and siblings in order to attend better schools — Naccarato says she isn’t wedded to Italian cuisine. “I know I’m Italian and I do cook a lot of Italian, but I love modern food. I love a challenge — I love to go to a restaurant, ask for something once, not ask what’s in it and go home and replicate it. It’s like a rush for me — I can’t explain.”
“The F Word” features different teams each week who “must win over the hearts and taste buds of the diners, celebrities and VIP guests,” according to Fox. Each episode’s winner will have a chance to be one of two teams who will compete for $100,000 in the season finale. The Sexy Paesans go up against The Spice Boys, a team of Asian-Indian descent from Tennessee.