March 22, 2009
Actor, chef and TV host David Rocco will journey to Singapore to cook an Italian dinner
By Fiona Low
Canadian-born Italian David Rocco has had no formal training in the culinary arts. Nonetheless, he has carved out a successful career - first as a restaurant owner and now as the host and producer of two food and lifestyle television programmes.
Avventura: Journeys In Italian Cuisine, a 26-part travel and cooking television series, was filmed in 1998.
His second TV series, David Rocco's Dolce Vita, is currently airing on Discovery Travel & Living (StarHub Channel 16) on Sundays at noon.
The 39-year-old has a degree in economics from York University in Canada, something he says he did to make his parents happy. 'But I feel that cooking and food is in my blood and DNA,' he says.
He opened an Italian restaurant, La Madonnina, in Toronto after graduation. Two years later, however, he decided to take his passion one step further by producing and hosting Avventura.
'I was also acting at that time, so it was a natural fit to do a show,' explains Rocco, who also modelled during his schooldays.
Avventura's success encouraged him to start Dolce Vita, which is now in its fourth season. The series is a guide to all things Italian, especially food, which he produces together with his wife Nina, who also appears on the show.
They currently spend their time travelling between Canada and Italy with their one-year-old twin daughters.
Rocco will be one of four special guests attending the World Gourmet Summit 2009 in Singapore from April 19 to May 2. This is the first in a six-part series featuring chefs from the festival.
Who was most influential in cultivating your love for food?
My mum because she prepared our family meals. She is also the best cook I know.
What was the first dish you cooked?
Eggs in tomato sauce. I heated up my mother's tomato sauce, dropped an egg or two in it and added some mozzarella cheese. It was easy to make and really tasty. My friends loved it.
Who does the cooking at home, you or your wife?
I do most of it but Nina is a great cook too. I love her spaghetti aglio e olio, which is spaghetti in oil and garlic sauce.
What is your one guilty food indulgence?
Chocolate cake. Maybe my mum should have allowed me to have more of it when I was growing up. Now as an adult, I cannot stop at one piece.
What is the one must-try dish for first-time visitors to Italy?
Mozzarella di bufala. It is a creamy mozzarella cheese made from the milk of a water buffalo. It is from the Naples region in Italy and it is to die for.
What is your favourite smell in the kitchen?
The sweet smell of tomato sauce simmering after a few hours. It reminds me of my childhood and waking up on Sunday mornings, when my mum would get up early to prepare our family lunch.
What is your philosophy when it comes to food?
Less is more. Just because an ingredient is good does not mean that more of it will make the recipe better.
What is your signature dish?
It depends on my mood and also who I am cooking for. But if I had to choose, it would be spaghetti alla carbonara, which is made from eggs, cheese and Italian bacon. It is Nina's favourite.
WHAT WOULD YOUR LAST MEAL BE?
Lasagna. And for dessert, a great burger! These are my fun foods, my comfort foods. I loved them while growing up and though I am older, I still enjoy them