Rocco DiSpirito is an American chef based in New York City, known to television audiences through his reality show, The Restaurant.
DiSpirito was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens. His culinary experience began at age 11 in his mother Nicolin's kitchen.
By the age of 16, DiSpirito entered the Culinary Institute of America. He graduated in 1986 and studied abroad at Jardin de Cygne in France with Dominique Cecillon and Gray Kunz. In 1990, DiSpirito earned a B.S. in Business from Boston University.
He worked at Adrienne in New York and as Chef de Partie at Aujourd'hui in Boston. DiSpirito then joined Lespinasse's opening team.
In 1997, DiSpirito opened Union Pacific in New York City's Gramercy Park as Chef and Owner. In 1999, he was named Food & Wine's Best New Chef, and in 2000, Gourmet magazine called him "America's Most Exciting Young Chef."
DiSpirito opened Rocco's 22nd Street in the summer of 2003 while cameras for NBC's The Restaurant watched and took notes. Later that summer, more than nine million viewers a week tuned in to see the ups and downs of DiSpirito's family-inspired eatery.
The second season aired in 2004.
DiSpirito is the author of Flavor, a unique cook book that breaks down his concept of building dishes on the four basic flavours, making his unique approach to food accessible to the home cook.
He launched Rocco Cookware and Rocco Family Food in March 2004. DiSpirito's second book, Rocco's Italian-American, was released in November 2004.
DiSpirito hosted his own radio talk show for WOR from October 2004 to December 2005. He was set to replace retiring WOR host Bob Grant on his mid-afternoon show in 2006, but left because of creative differences with the management over the new show.