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Spotlight On: David Rocco

Spotlight On: David Rocco

Celebrity chef David Rocco brings his passion for food and healthy cooking to millions of kitchens every day, through his worldwide hit television programs, David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and David Rocco’s Amalfi Getaway, along with his two bestselling cookbooks. David recently took time to answer a few questions about his life and career for Speakers’ Spotlight:

What inspired your love of Italian cooking?
Growing up in an Italian household meant that there was always something being whipped up in the kitchen, and the kitchen really was the pulse of the home– and I didn’t mind because I love to eat! The simplicity of Italian cooking also made it easy to master certain dishes from an early age and that connection I have with food has brought me to where I am today.

Any advice for aspiring chefs?
Don’t over-complicate your dishes for the sake of appearing fancy. Simple dishes with quality ingredients will always be winners.

How do you prepare before a live presentation? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?
I always like to have a small glass of wine on stage with me – it makes me feel at home, and I like to roll with whatever happens.  Sometimes elements or stove tops don’t work properly, sometimes clients don’t have all the right ingredients…so you go with the flow and have fun!

Do you have an especially memorable live event you can tell us about?
Nothing specific, but really it’s always so much fun meeting fans after a demo or an event. I’m always flattered with the support!

Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in on-stage?
The food stylist never showed up with my ingredients, so i spoke at an event for 45 minutes…totally freestyle and I think it was the best and most entertaining event I’ve ever done!

What is in the works for you right now? Any new shows coming up? What’s next?
I just got back from filming in India! We’re in post production right now and we’re very excited to get espisodes on the air later this year! After that, I’ll be back in Italy cooking up a storm, and then, who knows?

Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
I think giving back should be an important part of everyone’s life–it keeps you grounded and really gives you perspective. Right now, I’m working closely with OneXOne, a charity that is committed to bringing food, water, health care, and education to children in third world countries.

If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?
An astronaut!

Desert island album?
ABBA’s greatest hits

Best subject in school?

Last book you read?
I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (to my son, Dante, and my twin girls, Giorgia and Emma)

Last film you saw?
The Graduate (for the 20th time!)

Celebrity crush?
Betty White

What is it like traveling so much? How do you relax? How do you stay healthy?
Travelingas much as I do can get a little hectic, but I try and work out as much as possible especially because many of these trips revolve around wine and food!

Is there another question you would like to answer that we didn’t ask?

My age. I’ll be 30 next month. [Editor’s note: cough cough….].

Tuscan Bread Salad (Panzanella)


Here’s a wonderful summer salad recipe David has been kind enough to share with
Speakers’ Spotlight readers:



  • 8 slices day old Tuscan-style or hearty bread
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Submerge the slices of stale bread in a bowl of water. Get your hands in there and play with your food. You want to mush it around for a minute or so. Panzanella is all about texture, so by using your hands, you can decide how mushy you want it to be and how moist you want your final result to be. The food will respond to your touch and will taste better. Once you’re done, squeeze out the water and break up the bread into your serving bowl.

If you’re making this in peak season, when the tomatoes are sweet, then use the juice, seeds and all. Otherwise, squeeze the water and seeds out of your halved cherry tomatoes; discard the seeds. Add the tomatoes and sliced red onions to the bowl. Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Tear up the basil and add it along with salt and pepper.

Give it a good toss and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to give the flavors a chance to develop before serving.

Add radicchio or arugula for some bite and a bit of crunch and color. Add just before serving so the greens don’t wilt in the salad.