Major: Culinary Arts
Job Title: Executive Chef, TV Personality
Location: New York, New York
Chef DiSpirito opened his premier restaurant, Union Pacific, in 1997 in New York City to widespread critical acclaim. The New York Times gave the restaurant a three-star rating in 1998, saying, “Mr. DiSpirito seems to think about flavor in ways that ordinary people don’t.” In 2002, Union Pacific earned a second three-star review from the New York Observer.
In addition to his position at Union Pacific, Chef DiSpirito was consulting chef for Tuscan and the chef and co-owner of Rocco’s 22nd Street, which celebrates the Italian-American cuisine on which he was raised. NBC featured the behind-the-scenes preparation and opening of Rocco’s 22nd Street in the reality show The Restaurant, which aired in July 2003.
Chef DiSpirito was a featured chef on the Food Network’s Melting Pot Mediterranean and has served as a guest judge on Top Chef. He has also made guest appearances on the sitcom Kings of Prosperity, The Biggest Loser reality show, and the ABC drama, Castle. Chef DiSpirito is a New York Times bestselling author of nine cookbooks including the Now Eat This series, Rocco’s Real Life Recipes, Rocco Gets Real, Rocco’s Five Minute Flavor, Rocco’s Italian American, and Flavor. He hosted a reality cooking show on Bravo TV called Rocco’s Dinner Party and has a new syndicated program called Now Eat This! with Rocco DiSpirito.
Over the years, Chef DiSpirito has earned many honors. He was proclaimed “America’s Most Exciting Young Chef” by Gourmet magazine in 2000, named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs in America” in 1999, and a “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality that same year. He was also featured in People’s 2002 “Sexiest Men Alive” issue.