Named one of the “10 Best New Chefs” in the United States by the editors of Food & Wine, triumphant and trend-setting chef Rocco DiSpirito has turned heads in the American culinary community with the success of the Manhattan eatery Union Pacific. More recently, he helped revamp a classic midtown restaurant Tuscan with a menu highlighted with classics from his native Italy. Now he will use the same critically acclaimed skill and technique to open and operate New York City’s newest restaurant in conjunction with the new NBC unscripted drama “The Restaurant.”
Executive produced by Mark Burnett (“Survivor”), Ben Silverman and Robert Riesenberg, the six episode, one-hour series will run in summer of 2003 on the NBC Television Network and follow DiSpirito – one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” – and his staff as Rocco embarks on a journey to create, launch and operate his own ultra-chic eating establishment. Unlike other reality programming, “The Restaurant” will be the first dramatic series that caters to the viewing public where fans can actually visit the eatery and have the staff welcome them for a truly unforgettable night on the town.
A first generation Italian-American chef, DiSpirito’s culinary talent can be found in his family and traced to his love affair with food since age eleven. After graduating from Boston University, his acceptance into the esteemed Culinary Institute of America soon followed. He then made a pilgrimage to France, where he cooked under Dominique Cecillon at Jardin de Cygne, and learned from a handful of New York’s most prominent master chefs including David Bouley, Charles Palmer, Gray Kunz and the late Gilbert Le Coze.
While he learned the craft of cooking in those kitchens, DiSpirito’s signature style was born of pure, unbridled imagination and passion for his work. DiSpirito is one of the few chefs that comes along who is blessed with the ability to imagine food differently than anyone who has gone before him. His cuisine is described by New York magazine’s Gael Greene as ringing with “poetry.” The New York Times exclaimed that his dishes “can provoke moans of pleasure” and Ruth Reichl reviews, “Mr. DiSpirito has an interesting mind; he seems to think about flavor in ways that ordinary people don’t.”
In 2000, Gourmet magazine dubbed him “America’s most exciting young chef.” And since Union Pacific’s opening almost six years ago, the restaurant has received three star reviews from The New York Times and The New York Observer.