Rocco DiSpirito grew up in Jamaica, Queens, where his mother Nicolina worked in a school cafeteria and taught her son great Italian home cooking. He entered the Culinary Institute of America at age seventeen and, upon graduation, went straight to work in the kitchens of France. He returned to the United States and earned a business degree from Boston University in 1989. He opened his first restaurant, Union Pacific, which earned three stars in The New York Times and landed him on the cover of Gourmet magazine. His second restaurant, Rocco's, was the setting of his network television show, The Restaurant. He is the author of two previous cookbooks, Rocco's Italian American and Flavor, winner of a James Beard Award. Today, Rocco is pursuing the good life in New York City, where he hosts a daily radio program, Food Talk with Rocco, on WOR, and lives with his dog, Teesha, and Teesha's cat, Pumpkin.