Rocco DiSpirito was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens. His culinary experience began at age eleven in his mother Nicolina's kitchen. By the age of 16, DiSpirito entered the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. He graduated in 1986 with honors and studied abroad at Jardin de Cygne in Paris, France with Dominique Cecillon. In 1990, DiSpirito earned a B.S. in Business from Boston University.
He worked at The Peninsula Hotel in NYC and at The Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. DiSpirito then joined Lespinasse's opening team at The St. Regis in New York City. In 1997, DiSpirito opened the 3 star Union Pacific in New York City's Gramercy Park as Chef and Owner. In 1999, DiSpirito was named Food & Wine's Best New Chef, and in 2000, Gourmet magazine called him "America's Most Exciting Young Chef."
DiSpirito opened Rocco's 22nd Street in the summer of 2003 while cameras for NBC's The Restaurant watched and took notes. Later that summer, more than nine million viewers a week tuned in to see the ups and downs of DiSpirito's family-inspired eatery. The second series aired in the spring of 2004.
DiSpirito is the author of 5 cook books including Flavor, Rocco's Italian American, Rocco's Real Life Recipes and DiSpirito's fifth book Rocco Gets Real: Cook At Home Everyday was published October 2008. A unique cookbook that empowers the everyday home cook with easy to make recipes, step by step photos and illustrations, making his unique approach to food accessible to just about anyone. Rocco's new show Rocco Gets Real airs on Saturdays on A&E at 10:30 AM.