Eating Lunch With Celebrity Chef David Rocco

The handsome David Rocco (photo by Lesley Lynch)

Where do celebrity chefs eat when they are in Dallas? Meddlesome Moth. At least, that’s where I met David Rocco, Canadian-Italian celebrity chef, for lunch yesterday. Rocco was in town promoting his new book, Made In Italy, while juggling a half-dozen other responsibilities. We slipped into a quiet booth in the back, and the lunch hour slipped by as I would expect any lunch with any upstanding Italian guy: with an abundance of gesticulations, references to good olive oil, and stories about the important women in his life (his wife and twin daughters).

After perusing the offerings, I asked the celeb chef what he looks for on a menu at a mid-priced restaurant. He prefaced his response by saying that he never expects to be wowed anymore since he’s had so much good food around the world, but admitted that he was always searching for food that represented wherever he happened to be. After agreeing that we all had a light appetite, we ended up ordering four appetizers to share: fried hominy, house made hummus, heirloom tomato caprese, and seared ahi tuna.

Jump for more Rocco.

When I asked him what he thought about the food, he couldn’t help but focus on the heirloom tomato caprese’s inability to stand up to the Italian original. The heirloom tomatoes only needed a drizzle of olio nuovo (new olive oil) and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, according to Rocco, who thought the balsamic vinegar and mealy mozzarella took away from the star of the dish. I imagine this is why he did not want to go to an Italian restaurant; it would make him cringe. My heart went out to him.

After the waiter came to our table with the hominy, the most Southern dish on the table, DR honestly believed they were Cocoa Puffs. “I was like awesome! Awesome! This is like the s**t. I am in Dallas, and I got Cocoa Puffs.”

Fortunately, the conversation picked up after we started eating. David’s face lit up when he started talking about his new cookbook, Made In Italy, and he left everyone at the table wishing we could swap our appetizer selection for a simple bowl of Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, his favorite recipe from the new cookbook. You can check out his new book when it hits stores in October. Until then, you can catch up on his other work. Not only does he write, he stars in The Cooking Channel’s David Rocco’s Dolce Vita, serves as a spokesperson for Ruffino wines, and raises three young children with his wife, Nina.

Lesley Mann Lynch is a D Magazine summer intern. She went to the University of Cambridge on a full ride and got her masters in Bioscience Enterprise. She’s now at El Centro getting her certificate in basic culinary skills.