For Celebrity Chef, It's Not All Glamour
Tue Jul 22, 7:47 AM ET

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK - True, there are perks to owning a Manhattan restaurant appearing on television and toasting celebrity guests with fine wine, among them. But there are some unceremonious moments, according to Rocco DiSpirito, the chef and star of NBC's new reality show "The Restaurant."

"People fantasize about opening a restaurant. I hear it all the time. They think it's so glamorous, and it can be," DiSpirito told The Associated Press. "But most people don't know it's also part of my job to check the grease traps in the kitchen and make sure they're clean."

The 36-year-old is the chef and owner of the Italian-American-themed Rocco's, where the TV show takes place, and Union Pacific, a high-end global fusion restaurant.

What kept him sane enough to open Rocco's in an unprecedented seven weeks with the cameras rolling, no less was having his mother, Nicolina, a former public school cafeteria worker, by his side as the restaurant's chef de cuisine. "Mama always was the one with candy in her hands for the neighborhood kids, so this makes her very happy," he said.

Other relatives have various jobs, including one uncle who makes the house wine and another who gave up his recipe for sausage and peppers.