As an 11-year-old boy in Jamaica , Queens ( New York ), Rocco DiSpirito began helping his mother, Nicolina, in her own kitchen-an experience that sparked his intense interest in food and cooking. He attended the Culinary Institute of America and graduated with honors in 1986. In 1990, DiSpirito graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Business from Boston University and in 1997, as Chef and Owner, he opened Union Pacific in New York City 's Gramercy Park to rave reviews.
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 launched Rocco's 22nd Street in the summer of 2003 while cameras for NBC's The Restaurant watched and took notes. The second series aired in the spring of 2004. For more than a year, Rocco hosted the talk radio show "Food Talk with Rocco" on WOR 710AM radio. In 2007, Rocco guest-starred as a judge on Bravo's hit TV series, Top Chef 3 and in 2008, he appeared as a guest chef on NBC-TV's The Biggest Loser. He is the author of Flavor, Rocco's Italian American, 5 Minute Flavor, and Rocco's Real Life Recipes: Fast Flavor for Every Day.