Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taking heat for not cooking

For the knife-sharpening snark squadrons of and a segment of the gastronomic elite, Rocco DiSpirito has come to embody the Faustian bargain of celebrity in the restaurant business.

He is portrayed, and often satirized, as a supernaturally talented chef who squandered his gifts in the scattershot pursuit of fame, fortune and pink ruffled shirts.

Of course, these days plenty of chefs are hawking products and hustling for TV gigs — Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Tom Colicchio, Mr. Bourdain himself.

And yet very few of them come in for the vigorous hazings that Mr. DiSpirito endures.

Mr. DiSpirito defends his career path with missionary zeal. What he loves to do, he says, is to bring his rarefied culinary skills to regular folks everywhere. And he hasn't rule out the idea of opening a restaurant someday in the future.