We asked Rocco DiSpirito about his childhood, his best and worst food experiences and what he would have been if he wasn't a chef. Learn 11 things you didn't know about the culinary personality.
What did you eat growing up? Meatballs, lasagna, chicken parmesan, frittatas, spaghetti with spaghetti squash, eggs with zucchini flowers, rabbit and pizza with no cheese.
How has NYC shaped you? By the time I was 14, thanks to NYC and Queens, my culinary worldview was about as broad as Arthur Frommer's because I traveled to all of these countries simply by walking up and down the streets of the diverse neighborhood.
Culinary icons? Gray Kunz, Julia Child, Graham Kerr, my grandmother, my mother, my Aunt Maria, David Bouley and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
If I wasn't a chef, I'd be… A veterinarian or a farmer, or maybe a veterinarian farmer.
Go-to guilty-pleasure? Pizza and burgers (especially Corner Bistro's bacon burger).
Most unusual food you've tried? Balut in the Philippines: partially fertilized cooked duck eggs. I loved it.
I'll never again eat… Cod sperm. It was as disgusting as it sounds.
Favorite restaurant? Balthazar. I order The Balthazar, possibly the greatest seafood experience you can have in NYC.
Most people don’t know… I was considering priesthood.
Favorite food to make? Risotto. It requires focus. It is kind of like a newborn baby. You can never leave it alone and when you do it well it really makes people happy.
I can't live without… Crushed red pepper flakes. I put them on everything.