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.
I think when you are a kid growing up you are never sure what you want to do. I thought maybe being an astronaut was something I should do until I saw how much school and science was needed. But food was always something I loved and knew would be a big part of my life. As I got older and began cooking and having fun in the kitchen in my teens I certainly began cooking a lot and knew that I enjoyed it. I then got into doing TV shows which cemented my love of 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 cugina povera…cooking inspired by peasant cooking where ingredients come first. Olive oil is for me the most important ingredient. I joke it’s my Italian MSG; a little drizzle of the good stuff over a dish just elevates it. It’s definitely 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 is 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 to them.
With the plethora of internationally sourced exotic ingredients now available, how do see the food scene changing in India?
Food in India, like in Italy, is everything. With people traveling and watching more food tv, they’ll definitely be influenced by this as well. But the importance of food to Indian culture will always prevail and authentic Indian food will always be most important. You see this pride as within a 100-mile radius and from village to village they will make their own Dal different and very area believes there’s is the best.
Are you expected to cook at personal gatherings? Does it annoy you or is it something you enjoy?
Not really, and I actually enjoy cooking regardless. I’m always happy to cook and cook for others but often when we are invited over to friends and family it’s all about eating and celebrating and no one is being judged for what they are making