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Rocco DiSpirito is an American celebrity chef best known for his cooking show The Melting Pot and reality show The Restaurant.
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Rocco DiSpirito is an American chef born on November 19, 1966, in Queens, New York. Influenced by his Italian heritage and the traditional dishes his mother cooked, he studied at the Culinary Institute of America at age 16 and then at the Jardin de Cygne in France. He gained experience working at the popular New York restaurant Lespinasse in the 1990s before opening his own successful Manhattan restaurant, Union Pacific,
in 1997. DiSpirito later broke into the TV industry with a show on the Food Network called The Melting Pot in 2000. His reality show The Restaurant showcased the opening of his New York restaurant, Rocco. The celebrity chef has published numerous cookbooks and remains active in radio and television.
Chef, author, radio and television personality Rocco DiSpirito was born on November 19, 1966, in Queens, New York. A rising star in the 1990s New York City culinary scene, DiSpirito has expanded his reach beyond the kitchen to become a successful cookbook author and television personality. His career choice was strongly influenced by his mother Nicolina, a superb home cook.
As a child growing up in Jamaica, Queens, DiSpirito learned the recipes for many traditional Italian dishes from his mother. He furthered his cooking skills and expertise by entering the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at the age of 16. After completing his program in 1986, DiSpirito spent some time in France, studying at the Jardin de Cygne with Dominique Cecillon and Gray Kunz.
DiSpirito attended Boston University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1990. Moving back to New York, he worked at Kunz’s four-star French restaurant Lespinasse—one of the city’s most popular spots during the 1990s—for a time. DiSpirito went on to open his own his restaurant Union Pacific in 1997.
Receiving stellar reviews for his innovative cuisine, DiSpirito seemed to take the New York food scene by storm. He was named “Best New Chef” by Food and Wine magazine in 1999. Around this time, DiSpirito launched his television career, appearing on the Food Network program, The Melting Pot, in 2000. He was also named “America’s Most Exciting Young Chef” by Gourmet magazine that same year.
In addition to his food, DiSpirito attracted a lot of attention for his good looks and was named “Sexiest Chef” by People magazine in 2002. He then became the star of his own reality series, The Restaurant, the following year. Working with Mark Burnett, the force behind the hugely successful Survivor series, DiSpirito allowed cameras to go behind the scenes as he prepared to open a new restaurant in New York City with business partner Jeffrey Chodorow. The eatery was to be called Rocco’s and its cuisine drew its inspiration from his mother and his Italian-American background.
Premiering in July 2003, The Restaurant developed quite a following, attracting more than nine million viewers at its peak.
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