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Rocco DiSpirito

Rocco DiSpirito

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Rocco DiSpirito is an Italian American chef
Chef
A chef is a person who cooks professionally for other people. Although over time the term has come to describe any person who cooks for a living, traditionally it refers to a highly skilled professional who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation.-Etymology:The word "chef" is borrowed ...

 based in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

Life and career


DiSpirito was born in Queens
Queens
Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. The largest borough in area and the second-largest in population, it is coextensive with Queens County, an administrative division of New York state, in the United States....

, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. He graduated in 1986 from the Culinary Institute of America
Culinary Institute of America
The Culinary Institute of America is a non-profit culinary college located in Hyde Park USA, founded in 1946. The CIA also has branch campuses in St. Helena, California, and San Antonio, Texas, as well as a campus in Singapore. It is a not-for-profit academic institution of higher learning...

 in Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park is a town located in the northwest part of Dutchess County, New York, United States, just north of the city of Poughkeepsie. The town is most famous for being the hometown of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt....

, and in 1990 from Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

 with a bachelor's degree in business. DiSpirito is known for his Italian-American cuisine and his innovative fusion
Fusion cuisine
Fusion cuisine combines elements of various culinary traditions while not being categorized per any one particular cuisine style, and can pertain to innovations in many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s.-Categories and types:...

 cooking.

DiSpirito is best known as a celebrity chef
Celebrity chef
A celebrity chef is a kitchen chef who has become famous and well known. Today celebrity chefs often become celebrities by presenting cookery advice and demonstrations via mass media, especially television. Historically, celebrity chefs have included Antoine Carême and Martino da Como.-External...

 and a cookbook
Cookbook
A cookbook is a kitchen reference that typically contains a collection of recipes. Modern versions may also include colorful illustrations and advice on purchasing quality ingredients or making substitutions...

 author. He is known for his involvement in Union Pacific, a restaurant he opened in 1997 in the Gramercy Park
Gramercy Park
Gramercy Park is a small, fenced-in private park in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park is at the core of both the neighborhood referred to as either Gramercy or Gramercy Park and the Gramercy Park Historic District...

 section of Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

. A year later, New York Times reviewer Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl - pronounced RYE-chil - is an American food writer, co-producer of PBS's Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, culinary editor for the Modern Library, host of PBS's Gourmet's Adventures With Ruth, and the last editor-in-chief of the now shuttered Gourmet magazine...

, in an ecstatic three-star review, reported that a woman at the next table was moaning in uncontrollable ecstasy as she ate, but it was impossible to determine what dish had provoked that reaction, since just about every entree was worthy of such moans. He left Union Pacific in 2004.

In 2003 and 2004, DiSpirito was the subject of the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 reality television
Reality television
Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded...

 show The Restaurant, which followed DiSpirito and his mother during the opening of their restaurant, Rocco's 22nd Street, and his subsequent lack of cooperation with his investor, Jeffrey Chodorow
Jeffrey Chodorow
Jeffrey Chodorow is an American restaurateur and financier.-Early career:Jeffrey Chodorow's father died when he was young and he was raised by his mother, a manicurist. He attended Wharton and has a law degree from University of Pennsylvania.In the 1970s, Chodorow developed shopping centers in...

. An episode showed Rocco and Chodorow taking a meeting at a table in the restaurant. Rocco complained about Chodorow's changes to the restaurant; Chodorow responded with his own complaint that Rocco never responded to emails. Rocco walked away from the table with no explanation, despite the fact that the meeting was not yet adjourned. Chodorow gave Rocco's chef a raise, and that same afternoon, Rocco fired the chef. Rocco claimed to be a part-owner, and Chodorow said Rocco was not an owner. The television viewer never did see whether or not Rocco produced a partnership agreement to support his claim.

DiSpirito succeeded Arthur Schwartz as host of Food Talk, an hour-long morning talk show on New York Radio WOR (AM)
WOR (AM)
WOR is a class A , AM radio station located in New York, New York, U.S., operating on 710 kHz. The station has a talk format and has been owned by Buckley Broadcasting since 1987, after the station was sold by RKO. The station has conservative, or right-of-center hosts.Its call letters have no...

, from October 2004 through December 2005, and then hosted 12 episodes of a TV show called Rocco Gets Real on A&E
A&E Network
The A&E Network is a United States-based cable and satellite television network with headquarters in New York City and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, London, Los Angeles and Stamford. A&E also airs in Canada and Latin America. Initially named the Arts & Entertainment Network, A&E launched...

 (October 4 through December 27, 2008).

He was also featured in a Lincoln MKX
Lincoln MKX
The Lincoln MKX is a mid-size luxury crossover from Ford's Lincoln division and a de facto successor to the Lincoln Aviator luxury SUV. It debuted as a 2007 model in December 2006 as a production version of the Lincoln Aviator Concept shown at the 2004 North American International Auto Show...

 commercial and the ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 sitcom The Knights of Prosperity
The Knights of Prosperity
The Knights of Prosperity was a short-lived comedy series that premiered on ABC in the United States on Wednesday, January 3, 2007. It was created by Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman, who also created the NBC comedy-drama Ed...

, and was a guest judge on Bravo's Top Chef
Top Chef
Top Chef is an American reality competition show that airs on the cable television network Bravo, in which chefs compete against each other in culinary challenges. They are judged by a panel of professional chefs and other notables from the food and wine industry with one or more contestants...

. DiSpirito returned in the Top Chef
Top Chef (season 3)
Top Chef: Miami is the third season of American reality television series Top Chef and was filmed first in Miami, Florida, and concluded in Aspen, Colorado. The season premiered on Bravo on June 13, 2007 and ended on October 10, 2007. Padma Lakshmi returned with Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and new...

 season three finale (Top Chef: Miami) — in which three celebrity chefs were brought to work as sous chefs to the contestants, with DiSpirito assisting Hung Huynh
Hung Huynh
Hung Huynh is a Vietnamese-American chef, and in 2007 was the winner of the third season of Top Chef, the reality cooking competition show on Bravo....

 — and was a guest judge on the March 14, 2008 Top Chef
Top Chef (season 4)
Top Chef: Chicago is the fourth season of American reality television series Top Chef and was filmed first in Chicago, Illinois, and concluded in San Juan, Puerto Rico...

 season four premiere (Top Chef: Chicago). He appeared on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's The Biggest Loser: Couples
The Biggest Loser: Couples
The Biggest Loser: Couples is the fifth season of the NBC reality television series The Biggest Loser. The fifth season premiered on January 1, 2008 with ten overweight couples competing for a cash prize of $250,000...

(season 5) in an episode that aired on February 5, 2008 (episode 506), in which contestants were challenged to prepare three healthy courses based on DiSpirito's recipes; DiSpirito judged the food and determined the winning team. The following season he appeared on the second episode (airing September 23, 2008) of The Biggest Loser: Families
The Biggest Loser: Families
The Biggest Loser: Families is the sixth season of the NBC reality television series The Biggest Loser. The sixth season premiered on September 16, 2008, featuring Alison Sweeney as the host and Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels as the contestants' trainers.The cast was revealed on August 29, 2008...

, taking the "worst" cook of each pair shopping and teaching them to prepare healthy recipes.

DiSpirito was a contestant on season seven of Dancing With The Stars
Dancing with the Stars
Dancing with the Stars is the name of several international television series based on the format of the British TV series Strictly Come Dancing, which is distributed by BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the BBC. Currently the format has been licensed to over 35 countries...

(which premiered September 22, 2008), paired with Karina Smirnoff
Karina Smirnoff
Karina Smirnoff is a Ukrainian professional ballroom dancer. She is best known for her appearances on Dancing with the Stars, where she held a runner-up title, a semi-final title, and several quarter-final titles...

. He was eliminated on the October 14, 2008 broadcast of the show, placing ninth overall.

In 2006, DiSpirito performed a public service announcement for Do Something
Do Something
Do Something is a non-profit organization that motivates young people to take action around social changes through national campaigns and grants for projects that make an impact. The organization's CEO is Nancy Lublin, who founded Dress for Success in 1996.-History:The organization was co-founded...

 to promote food drives for schools.

On June 15, 2011, DiSpirito debuted as host of a weekly reality TV cooking competition, titled Rocco's Dinner Party
Rocco's Dinner Party
Rocco's Dinner Party is an American reality competition show that airs on the cable television network Bravo. Each week, three chefs are challenged to craft the perfect dinner party for celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and his guests. The contestants are judged on their cooking, service, and décor...

, on Bravo TV.

Awards

  • James Beard Award for his book Flavor
  • 1999, America's Best New Chef by Food and Wine Magazine
  • 2000, Most Exciting Young Chef by Gourmet Magazine
  • 2000, Nominated Best Chef: New York City by James Beard Foundation
  • 2001, Nominated Best Chef: New York City by James Beard Foundation
  • 2002, Sexiest Chef Alive by People Magazine
  • 2003 Nominated Best Chef: New York City by James Beard Foundation
  • 2004 Winner James Beard Award: Best Cookbook - Cooking From A Professional Point of View

Cookbooks

  • (2003, November 5). Flavor. Hyperion. (ISBN 0786868562)
  • (2004, November 17). Rocco's Italian American. Hyperion. (ISBN 0786868570)
  • (2005, December 6). Rocco's Five Minute Flavor: Fabulous Meals with 5 Ingredients in 5 Minutes. Scribner. (ISBN 0743273842)
  • (2007, November 6). Rocco's Real Life Recipes: Fast Flavor for Everyday. Wiley. (ISBN 0696237032)
  • (2008, October 21). Rocco Gets Real: Cook at Home, Every Day. Wiley. (ISBN 0696238233)
  • (2010, March 2). Now Eat This!: 150 of America's Favorite Comfort Foods, All Under 350 Calories. Ballantine Books. (ISBN 0345520904)
  • (2011, March 22). Now Eat This! Diet: Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Eating 6 Meals a Day! Grand Central Life & Style.(ISBN 0446584495)

External links