David Rocco is a Canadian executive producer, best-selling author, celebrity chef, and the host of several internationally syndicated television series. He is most widely known for producing and hosting the television series David Rocco’s Dolce Vita, and publishing three cookbooks: David Rocco’s Dolce Vita, Made in Italy, and David Rocco’s Dolce Famiglia. In 2013, he traveled to India to shoot David Rocco’s Dolce India, which found international success on the National Geographic Network.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a chef or was it pure chance? Please tell us about your journey.
As a kid, you are never sure what you want to do when you grow up. I thought being an astronaut was something I aspired to become until I realized how much science was needed. However, food was something I loved and knew would always be a big part of my life. As I got older, I began cooking and having fun in the kitchen. I knew with absolute certainty that I enjoyed it. I then got into doing TV shows, which cemented my love for travel and cooking for people.
What is Chef David’s personal cooking style? What are your favorite ingredients, and why?
Casual and simple cooking. Italian cooking is about simplicity and la cucina povera, — the food of the poor — where ingredients come first. Olive oil is the most important ingredient for me. I joke it’s my Italian MSG; a little drizzle of the good stuff over a dish elevates it. It’s something I can’t live without and a must for all my cooking.
How did you decide upon India for your show ‘Dolce India’ considering the food cultures of Italy and India couldn’t be more different?
Actually, Indian and Italian cultures are quite similar. Family and food are super important, and the matriarch is the glue to family. I often saw how the mothers or grandmothers in both cultures would serve everyone and insist everyone get seconds and thirds and only when everyone is finished would they then eat. Food for both cultures is important and although the food may be different, the value and importance of food are paramount for both cultures. We went to India after seeing the success that our Italian shows had there and felt it was a good way of exploring another culture where food is so important.
How do see the food scene changing in India with the plethora of exotic ingredients now available?
Food in India, like in Italy, is everything. With people traveling and watching more food tv, they are bound to be influenced by the availability of exotic ingredients. However, the importance of food to Indian culture will always prevail, and authentic Indian food will always be most important. There is this pride, as within a 100-mile radius and from village to village, they will make their Dal differently wherein every area believes that their recipe is the best!
Are you expected to cook at personal gatherings? Does it annoy you or is it something you enjoy?
I enjoy cooking regardless. I’m always happy to cook for others. Often when we are invited over by friends and family, it’s all about eating and celebrating, and no one is judged for what they are making.