The Curious Career of Rocco DiSpirito

The New York Times presents a ripping good read in this week’s Dining section, in an article that tells the story of the roots, rise, fall, and potential rebirth of TV chef Rocco DiSpirito. Profiles of celebrity chefs tend to be straightforward puff pieces or snarky take-downs, but the Times piece is a nuanced work of art, fully documenting DiSpirito’s dedication and talent without sparing him any of the emotional body blows dispensed by his numerous critics:

“The word ‘sad’ seems to surface a lot when you bring up Mr. DiSpirito’s curious career arc. ‘We were talking the other day, another food-obsessed person and I, and we were just saying how sad it was that he has disappeared,’ said Gael Greene, the grande dame of New York food scribes, and one of the first to celebrate Mr. DiSpirito’s talent 13 years ago when he was the chef at Dava. ‘I do believe that Dancing With the Stars is kind of the last stop. This person said, ‘Oh, he’ll never be back, if he can make a living doing commercials and appearances and TV and books.’”

Before this piece, you wouldn’t necessarily peg DiSpirito as the multidimensional type, but once you’ve read about his rough-and-tumble roots (“Knives. Guns. The whole thing.”), his obsession with complicated, heavy tinkered recipes, and his crazy hopscotch TV resume, you’ll want to read a book about him.

Well, OK. That’s overboard. But you’ll want to finish reading the profile, at the very least.