Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Rocco DiSpirito


dockhl
 Share

Recommended Posts

^^Apparently shilling for Bertolli and blogging on Top Chef for Bravo. 

docsconz is right.  He's very talented, and it's very unfortunate that his career took the path that it did.

It has nothing to do with "Unfortunate". He is a grown man and is accountable for his own VERY poor decisions. Stop enabling these people, sheesh!

The only good I saw from The Restaurant is that I found and became a member of eGullet. Other than that, Dispirito made his own bed and must lie in it now like all the rest of human society must.

-- THE TomH

TomH...

BRILLIANT!!!

HOORAY BEER!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's more than one way to look at anything.

Rocco may not have filled the shoes of his narrative arc to the satisfaction of his public.

But it could be that he is filling the shoes he wants to fill - that of businessperson.

Once a chef, always a chef?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rocco has earned not only the disdain of the general public after that trainwreck of a "reality" program, but the disdain and vocal verbal abuse of his peers in the industry. That doesn't happen by accident. The fact that he's now relegated to radio and is seeking a cohost as a publicity stunt for this second rate attempt at a comeback speaks volumes about his "saleability". If there were a single investor that thought he'd learned an iota of humility from his self-created debacle, he'd have his own restaurant in a major market with his name emblazoned in gilt lettering on the front window. He doesn't. And that tells me everything I need to know.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The fact that he's now relegated to radio and is seeking a cohost as a publicity stunt for this second rate attempt at a comeback speaks volumes about his "saleability".  If there were a single investor that thought he'd learned an iota of humility from his self-created debacle, he'd have his own restaurant in a major market with his name emblazoned in gilt lettering on the front window.  He doesn't.  And that tells me everything I need to know.

Well . . . relegated to radio etc. as you say he may be but that's still far from being off the radar altogether. I should add I'm not a fan of his nor not a fan. I was appalled at the behavior he displayed on his reality TV show and not surprised at all at the fallout he got from that. He stepped in a pile of sh*t of his own making right while he was on stage with everyone's eyes trained on him.

And the Bertolli thing is not to my personal taste.

But he hasn't killed any small animals nor mugged any old ladies as far as I know, so weighing his faults against the "greatly to be abhorred" category of people, to me he's either just an average garden-variety jerk (who are everywhere :smile: ) or a guy who started off running too fast before he knew how to use his feet.

He screwed up. In public. But it does not seem to me that he was just handed his chance at fame and fortune. Somehow, he earned it. Somehow, he then didn't manage it at all well in some ways. Would I invest in him if I were a tycoon type? Who knows. Someone still is, somehow. He may yet make it as a businessperson. It does appear to me that is the direction he is going: selling Rocco not selling Rocco's cooking.

He sure is the guy people love to hate though. :raz:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought Rocco's food at Union Pacific was among some of the most creative being done in NYC at the time. But as a harbinger of things to come.....I planned a very special birthday celebration at UP.....lots of great wines and worked with the wine director to make it really great. Rocco was nowhere to be seen. When I asked if Rocco might come by our table that night, the sommelier was silent, and then went on to say that Rocco had started spending most of his time at Rocco's, the name of the now infamous disaster that almost singlehandedly sent his career into a nosedive.

The problem is that Rocco has morphed from being seen as a highly gifted young chef, to an inept and narccistic chef, to a spoiled, unlikeable, unsympathetic brat. And once you've made that change in perception, its quite difficult to come back. People in the US love people who have stumbled and get up again, apologize, ask forgiveness. They don't love people who go from being seen as a child prodigy (so to speak) to a self-absorbed guy with attitude. That's really why Rocco won't re-surface successfully.

I checked Rocco's website a couple of weeks ago. Looked like it hadn't been updated since 2006. Sad, really.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With out reading the whole thread I don't deserve and answer but I shall ask anyway. Has anyone had a meal prepared by him?

Do you mean at one of his restaurants? We ate at Dava and at Union Pacific on several occasions. His food was original and superb on almost every occasion. I attended classes he gave at De Gustibus. It was from him that I first learned to cook sous vide. His chicken breast sous vide was an eye-opener. I had finally found something to do with a chicken breast other than a stir-fry.

All in all I think it's a major tragedy for the rest of us that he has not made a come-back.

Ruth

Ruth Friedman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is a little confusing to me why he continues to receive product endorsements with such a lack of fan base. Being human, it was interesting to see the choices Rocco was making in The Restraunt but the constant embedded endorsements made it virtually unwatchable. It was an hour long commercial for beer, vehicles and other products with some idiot falling on his sword between product shots. But he's still schilling cars and it looks like he's making another stab at TV so who knows? Maybe the Sandra Lee crowd has latched on to him.

I'm not a chef, but from all I've heard, being in the kichen is HARD work. Who can blame a guy for not wanting to work that hard? But there are other ways to keep your respect for your self and from others, especially when you have the hard skills and seemingly innate talent that he has. I have his award-winning cookbook and every recipe I have made is amazing. Additionally, he has organized it in a way that is brilliant for the home cook.

Here's hoping that he can become known more than than an endorsement himbo and do what people know he can do well...create great food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that Rocco has morphed from being seen as a highly gifted young chef, to an inept and narccistic chef, to a spoiled, unlikeable, unsympathetic brat. And once you've made that change in perception, its quite difficult to come back. People in the US love people who have stumbled and get up again, apologize, ask forgiveness. They don't love people who go from being seen as a child prodigy (so to speak) to a self-absorbed guy with attitude.  That's really why Rocco won't re-surface successfully.

I checked Rocco's website a couple of weeks ago. Looked like it hadn't been updated since 2006.  Sad, really.

He might not want forgiveness . . . he might not want to apologize. He might not want to re-surface successfully. He just might want to make as much profit from all of this as he can.

There's profit in reality TV in being a jerk. Most of the shows survive by the fact that so many of the personalities featured are way to one end of the spectrum of human behavior in terms of self-involvement. Showing these people keeps viewers glued to the set in shock and disbelief, wondering at it all. On reality TV, nice guys do finish last. If they are even considered in the first place.

He might not want to run a restaurant ever again, either. It's not the easiest job in the world. :wink:

He did do a recent blog on the Top Chef site as someone else mentioned above. It's worth reading.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an interesting discussion.

I agree with the person who said that one would think that if he really wanted to re-invent himself he would go back to cooking, get in a small restaurant, work his way back up. He clearly isn't trying to do this, merely trying to salvage and continue on with his media whoring persona. This speaks either to his huge ego or that he is so self deluded he really has no idea how he is percieved. Both speak volumes as to what type of person he has become.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an interesting discussion.

I agree with the person who said that one would think that if he really wanted to re-invent himself he would go back to cooking, get in a small restaurant, work his way back up.  He clearly isn't trying to do this, merely trying to salvage and continue on with his media whoring persona.  This speaks either to his huge ego or that he is so self deluded he really has no idea how he is percieved.  Both speak volumes as to what type of person he has become.

In his blog exchange with Tony, Rocco asked Tony how the two of them are so different. He said, to paraphrase, we both used to cook, now we do TV and sell things. You call Rocco a media whore. Would you call Tony a media whore? Is it all because of the 15 minutes of "the Restaurant", where he left such a virtual bad taste in so many TV devouring mouths?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an interesting discussion.

I agree with the person who said that one would think that if he really wanted to re-invent himself he would go back to cooking, get in a small restaurant, work his way back up.  He clearly isn't trying to do this, merely trying to salvage and continue on with his media whoring persona.  This speaks either to his huge ego or that he is so self deluded he really has no idea how he is percieved.  Both speak volumes as to what type of person he has become.

In his blog exchange with Tony, Rocco asked Tony how the two of them are so different. He said, to paraphrase, we both used to cook, now we do TV and sell things. You call Rocco a media whore. Would you call Tony a media whore? Is it all because of the 15 minutes of "the Restaurant", where he left such a virtual bad taste in so many TV devouring mouths?

Yeah, Bourdain is a MW but he plays the game and for the most part delivers as he goes about making a nice living.

......and perhaps he was lucky (and smart enough) to keep the skirt chasing, self indulgent crap away from the cameras.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He must not (consciously or not) want those things....like having a restaurant, being a working chef, etc. He may just want product endorsements.

Problem is, that will last about 5 minutes without him having some sort of platform. I mean, even if Tom C is a media personality by now, he does it based on the fact that he has several top rated restaurants. Bourdain has his books. Batali has his restaurants.

But what does Rocco have? A once famous chef who went down in flames? That celebrity will last only as long as people remember UP. Once that's over, people will say "Who is this guy?" Unless he somehow springs into fame through another venue (like Bourdain did).

But with Rocco's hubris, I doubt the public will embrace him. Just doing commercials for Lincoln Navigators and Bertolli pasta/meals isn't enough.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To most of us in flyover country, we'd never heard of Rocco before The Restaurant. In learning of his pedigree it was exciting to hear of the show, to tune in and see a restaurant developing since I have years of FOH experience and my husband BOH. That's why we tuned in, and is why we tune into pretty much all the food-related shows we watch, including the lately unwatchable Hell's Kitchen and the much more watchable Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, not to mention TB's No Res. In fact, these shows DO draw people like me and my husband to their restaurants when we visit the bigger cities, and we initially planned to visit Rocco's next time we got to the city.

But he seemed, to those who hadn't "seen" his history to be the perfect celebrity chef "student," one whose goals were not cooking and serving great food to the masses, but CELEBRITY above all else, including quality, responsibility, proper management, integrity, you name it. No Reservations doesn't have Tony cooking anything, but you LIKE him because what he's trying to do is communicate with the world through their cuisine and cooking and to bring that home to the viewers (that's my take anyway) and I think it's a great way in to being curious about and understanding other cultures, and he does it in a very likeable and often respectable way, or at least with a good amount of tongue-in-cheek humor which brings a smile to the face. It has been that show for me anyway. If Tony treated everyone like some crap underling and all women like whores and managed his crew and show like a spoiled rich teen being given a cruise ship to run and then using it as his personal party yacht, you wouldn't like him anymore either. He comes off as likeable and not doing what he's doing for the purpose of fame, the opposite of how Rocco came off. Rocco resembled that old SNL skit with Sandler and Rob Schneider acting as waiters and licking all the female customers' faces while calling them "bellissima."

I also think he continues to not care to "work his way back up" or jump in and do any real, hard work anymore. Why would you, when you can sit at home blogging about TV shows and sell stuff on QVC? Everyone stumbles. Emeril is annoying and clearly a showman but he still has great restaurants and continues to work very hard in all aspects of his business, and while I don't care for his show, I respect him. I don't feel that way about Rocco.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, this has been VERY enlightening. I think it says much, not just about Rocco, but about how we "foodies" view our celebrity chefs (and what we are willing to accept from them).

So, here is another naive question:

Rocco's cookbooks? any good? Too simplistic? Genny mentioned in her post that she had his "award winning cookbook" (Flavor?) and liked it very much.

Kathy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, this has been VERY enlightening. I think it says much, not just about Rocco, but about how we "foodies" view our celebrity chefs (and what we are willing to accept from them).

So, here is another naive question:

Rocco's cookbooks? any good? Too simplistic? Genny mentioned in her post that she had his "award winning cookbook" (Flavor?) and liked it very much.

Kathy

I've mentioned here a couple of times that Flavor is a decent cookbook. I haven't made a lot from it though, and nothing recently.

It's quite good in it's discussion of how to balance flavors.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He comes across as someone who will do anything for money.

I have not seen this but I heard he was selling cat food not too long ago. If this is true how can one take him seriously as a chef?

I did see a car commercial where he and a lady are heading from the market to a picnic. They buy a fish and it stinks up the car. In other words the chef bought a bad fish. It's not a bad thing to poke fun at oneself. But if you are serious about your professionalism perhaps it's best not to imply you don't know how to shop for food.

At one point in his blog he refers to himself as an entertainer. Just how does he figure he dose that?

How ever there is a small part of me that feels a little sorry for the guy. I sure he never in his wildest dreams did he envision the disaster that the show turned out o be.

Edited by Fpoint (log)

"You're drunk."

"Just bring out the cakes."

"Cakes and fine wine."

"If you don't leave we'll call the police."

"Balls! We want the finest wines available to humanity, and we want them here and we want them now!"

--Withnail & I--

http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com/

http://booksaboutfood.blogspot.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think of Rocco as a talented chef who achieved way more than most chefs do, and who on top of that managed to do it in one of the toughest markets in the world: New York City.

Also think of him as someone who managed to write a decent cookbook. No small accomplishment.

Also think of him as an entertainer. He sure has entertained me.

:laugh:

I daresay he knows what fresh fish is or isn't and is sure enough of knowing that fact that he does not have to tiptoe around worried about how he looks to those of lesser assuredness measuring him.

Arrogant? Maybe. But he'll be laughing all the way to the bank whether or not anyone takes him "seriously" I do believe. :wink:

He's still rather young, too. He's got time to try to develop into whatever direction he wants to go or alternately to take the money, run for the hills, run a ranch and cook like a cowboy for whomever he pleases, and it may not be paying customers he wants to cook for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, this has been VERY enlightening. I think it says much, not just about Rocco, but about how we "foodies" view our celebrity chefs (and what we are willing to accept from them).

True. I never thought I'd be defending Rocco of all people but really the line just keeps running through my mind (and I never say this): "He's not your bitch."

:smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some interesting thoughts here.

I will use another example which I find pretty interesting.

There is a show on an HD channel called Mojo, called After Hours with Daniel Boulud in which Daniel invites chef friends for after hours meals, laughs, fun etc. Great show, unscripted, candid etc.

Anyway, one of the episodes Rocco was one of the guests and one of the conversations he was involved in I thought was very interesting. At the table the group was discussing chefs as celebrities, and the trend of chefs rising to prominence, etc. Rocco kept chiming in with comments about how he and other chef's get into the business "to make money" and how few chefs achieve the ultimate goal (in his mind) of making as he put it "fuck you money". Ruth Reichel, another guest at the table, chimed in appropriately so, saying, Rocco, you are dead wrong and crazy if you are getting into the business to make a lot of money, you have to get into it because you love food, serving people, etc.

I thought this exchange was quite interesting and telling regarding some of Rocco's motivations, perceptions, etc. Now were these money/fame hungry motivations there all along or did he develop them after a taste of fame, who knows? I just thought it was an interesting exchange and showed his somewhat warped perceptions.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rocco, like anyone, can do what he wants and if what he is doing now and since The Restaurant makes him happy so much the better for him, but that doesn't mean that anyone who experienced his talent before need to respect him for what he is doing now or has done since the ill-fated show. I am a big fan of his talent in the kitchen. Unfortunately (for me) that talent has not been put to good use for quite some time.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some interesting thoughts here.

I will use another example which I find pretty interesting.

There is a show on an HD channel called Mojo, called After Hours with Daniel Boulud in which Daniel invites chef friends for after hours meals, laughs, fun etc.  Great show, unscripted, candid etc.

Anyway, one of the episodes Rocco was one of the guests and one of the conversations he was involved in I thought was very interesting.  At the table the group was discussing chefs as celebrities, and the trend of chefs rising to prominence, etc.  Rocco kept chiming in with comments about how  he and other chef's get into the business "to make money" and how few chefs achieve the ultimate goal (in his mind) of making as he put it "fuck you money".  Ruth Reichel, another guest at the table, chimed in appropriately so, saying, Rocco, you are dead wrong and crazy if you are getting into the business to make a lot of money, you have to get into it because you love food, serving people, etc.

I thought this exchange was quite interesting and telling regarding some of Rocco's motivations, perceptions, etc.  Now were these money/fame hungry motivations there all along or did he develop them after a taste of fame, who knows?  I just thought it was an interesting exchange and showed his somewhat warped perceptions.

I have to wonder though, is he really making that much money doing what he is doing? Could he have made even more and with greater respect from his peers and the public if he made his money actually cooking? Of course, that probably would have required much more effort. I guess I would resent his leaving behind his culinary efforts less if he simply "retired" a la Marco Pierre White.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now were these money/fame hungry motivations there all along or did he develop them after a taste of fame, who knows?  I just thought it was an interesting exchange and showed his somewhat warped perceptions.

I'm wondering if it is the consensus of the group that people who get into something for the money or for the fame are all warped.

Lots of people get into professions for these reasons. Performers in many metiers are attracted by the notion of fame as much as they are attracted by their craft. Does this have an affect on whether they succeed or not? And is the talent level affected by this attraction?

Other sorts of professionals can also be attracted by the notion of the money to be had in the pursuance of their profession as much as they are attracted by the real facets of the profession itself. In our society these professions have often been the ones of doctors or lawyers. I would add investment bankers and those in the computer industry as well.

Is this a warped way to be? For those people too?

Or is it only chefs who are "warped" when they are this way.

(Oh. Before answering, please do go work fourteen hours on your feet for six days straight for eight years or so in a professional kitchen. :smile: )

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

everything i know about how rocco ran Rocco's I know from watching a clearly heavily-edited TV show. i just can't see making any sort of judgment call based on that. although i can appreciate that some people really and truly believe what they see. :laugh:

i'm looking forward to his next restaurant. i'm kinda upset i didn't get a chance to try Rocco's 22nd, or whatever it was called.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...