Rocco DiSpirito Talks Food Festivals, Summer Eating, and Baby Monkeys
Have you met Little Rocco?
When Rocco DiSpirito gets on the phone with me to talk about his plans for the summer, there’s one bit of business that needs attending to: How is Little Rocco?
“He’s doing well. He’s a big boy and lives in Myrtle Beach. I get pictures every once in a while,” he says. DiSpirito, by the way, is talking about a baby capuchin monkey born at Miami’s Jungle Island in 2019. The monkey was named after DiSpirito, and the two instantly bonded. “Do you remember that? That was the greatest thing in my life,” DiSpirito recalls.
Now that the monkey business is out of the way, DiSpirito shares that he’s looking forward to participating in two events at the Dan’s Taste food event series in the Hamptons. The chef will host Dan’s Chefs of the Hamptons on Thursday, June 9 at the EHP Resort & Marina and will participate in Dan’s Chefs of the North Fork on Saturday, June 25 at Long Island Aquarium. “I think I’m doing more food events than I ever have, and Dan’s is an institution,” he says.
A native New Yorker, DiSpirito has been making the Hamptons his summer retreat for years, and the Dan’s events allow him to spend time with fellow chefs. He also loves the Hamptons for its accessibility to fresh produce, seafood, and wineries. “Out here, we’re still very much connected to the terroir — the earth and that makes this place so fantastic,” he says.
DiSpirito says that he likes to go out to his garden for fresh herbs and vegetables for his Hamptons meals. “I pick things, I do as little as possible to them, and I serve them.” The chef also seeks out wild striped bass, bluefish, and fluke, seasoning everything with the basics. “I always have my favorite sea salt, a really good olive oil, and Parmigiano Reggiano.”
Fresh produce, fresh fish, and a few bottles of wine are what’s on his table when guests arrive. “People are surprised when I entertain and things are so simple. They expect more heavily worked plated foods. But then I think, what would my grandmother do? She would make a chicken, slice fresh tomatoes, and season them a bit.”
DiSpirito says that he sees a trend in people eating simply but well both at home and in the restaurant scene. “Fine dining is no longer about being expensive. It’s no longer about hard to find linens from Egypt. It’s all focused on the food.”
The chef, who offers a line of Keto-friendly foods on his website, also says that eating simply — and for the summer — is great for a Keto diet. “Grilled meats and fish and fresh vegetables like tomatoes and asparagus are perfect summer foods.” And the endless supply of wine on his table — is that Keto-friendly?
“The food festivals and Hamptons are where I relax a bit. I think there’s a time and a place for everything.”
Tickets to Dan’s Chefs of the Hamptons are on sale at danstaste.com/events/chefs-of-the-hamptons. General admission costs $125; VIP costs $175.