Food Vancouver Select Guide Interview with: David Rocco
This time the Food Vancouver (FV) Select Guide features an interview with Eat! Fraser Valley Show presenter David Rocco (DR) well-known producer, host and presenter of David Rocco's Dolce Vita.
FV - David, tell us something about yourself – how did you get interested in cooking and what motivated your foray into television?
DR - I grew up in an Italian household so food was always big part of our family life. Kids in the kitchen were a common thing; the family connected at mealtimes. Plus my love of food! I’m a carb guy, I love pasta! I could eat pasta 3 or 4 times a day with different sauces! Basically my love for cooking came about through liking a dish, eating the dish and wanting to make the dish. I see it as a food odyssey…my family was already in the television business so it was a natural progression
FV - Pasta 3-4 times a day! So how do you still manage to stay so lean and trim? What’s your secret?
DR - (Laughing loudly) Ha-ha…it’s starting to catch up lately…!
FV - David, you’ve said that your show David Rocco’s Dolce Vita is about food bringing family and friends together. How often do you get together with family/friends and where do you get your ideas for the dishes you prepare?
DR - Since we have a pretty busy schedule, we try to meet as often as time permits. Holidays are a must and usually reserved for family get-togethers– I always make time for family. We’ve just finished Season 4 so … I try to make it a priority to get together with family and friends. As for what I’m going to cook, it depends on the mood, what’s in season. I don’t start cooking until company actually arrives! I believe in casual cooking, not cooking to impress. It’s simple Italian eating – we cook what we might usually cook for family plus extra for company.
FV - Your shows have featured some picturesque locales - Florence, Sicily and the Amalfi coast. Is there any particular episode that you would call your favourite?
DR - I love eastern Italy, the Amalfi coast, Sicily…hey I love all of Italy! So there isn’t any one spot that means more than the others. That’s like saying “Who’s your favourite child? (chuckles)….I do enjoy filming in Sicily - Palermo is about so much more than pasta… they do wonderful things with couscous – given the Arabic influence. But really…all of Italy. I love it all…for me Italy is the greatest food culture.
FV - You and your wife Nina are now parents of 17-month old twin daughters. How are you managing to balance family life with your hectic schedule? What do you do to relax?
DR - We’re usually busy with the show and post production and spend lot of time in the studio. So, relaxing means spending time as much as possible with family – cooking of course – but just having lazy days, that sort of stuff. With the arrival of the twins we found that our family had suddenly family doubled! We felt we’d like to be more grounded. We’re now in a beautiful farm house in a small village in Tuscany – it has 300 people and 600 roosters… (chuckles). We enjoy living the natural life; the timing was right-. We enjoy being low-key, relaxed, having fun watching the twins participating, and learning. I try to do as much as I can with them. Of course right now they are too young to help out in kitchen but when they’re cranky or restless I bring them into the kitchen, plop them in their high-chairs and talk to them as I cook. I hold up the ingredients tell them what this is and that is and watch their eyes get big as they take in all the information. If I’m peeling a carrot I’ll give them a small piece so they can touch, feel and taste it and associate the flavour in the food they eat. It’s stimulating and educational. (Proud father says) The other night they pretty much had a third dinner! My wife Nina made rapini – and we gave one of our girls a little taste – she ate some and touched her belly (chuckles) …as if to say she liked it! She even had a taste of Beet Risotto and loved it!
FV - What was your inspiration for David Rocco’s Dolce Vita?
DR - Dolce Vita - most people think it’s about the “Sweet Life” - meaning fancy expensive dinners and all the fuss that’s involved. That’s not what I mean. It’s not about the idea of perfection. It’s about no stress – I like to start cooking when friends arrive; guests nibble on olives and cheese, dip bread in olive oil, we talk, laugh and cook together. In Dolce Vita – the table is seen as the theme. It’s about being in the moment; breaking down the stereotypes on perfection. It’s about opening up your house to good friends, having some wine, some olives, maybe a freshly made Insalata Caprese salad…sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, hand-torn basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil….assembling the dish, making memories. That’s what La Dolce Vita means to me.
FV - David, you’re going to be one of the presenters at the Eat! Fraser Valley Show this September. What do you like most about such events?
DR - I love meeting people, signing cook-books having one-on-one time with them. I just got back from PEI where I ate a tasty seafood chowder dish and asked the chef for the recipe. He was amazed I asked for it and e-mailed it to me. So for me all these events are mostly about meeting people, connecting with fans, chatting, exchanging ideas, sharing tips - that’s the best part of my job - the people.
FV - On your Vancouver trips do you have any particular restaurants on your must-visit list?
DR - Vancouver is such a great food city with so many different cuisines. Whenever I visit I spend a lot of time with Umberto Menghi who is a good friend. When we are in Vancouver he practically insists we eat every meal at his place! The weather, company, warmth, hospitality all make dining in Vancouver a great experience. I love Indian food and Vancouver has some great spots. I just love food – what can I say? So I enjoy every dining experience in Vancouver!
FV - For people who find entertaining a stressful experience what would you say to them?
DR - People feel they have to cook to impress. There’s too much planning, too much focus on perfection. Entertaining friends is about opening your home, breaking bread together - putting simple ingredients together as you socialize. It should be about Dolce Vita, simple home-cooked food; about assembling ingredients, talking, eating, and just having fun. People sometimes ask me if I’m doing something special for my birthday. They think I’m going to some fancy place – and they’re surprised when I say “nothing special”. For me it’s about being with the family – one-on-one time – eating what we normally eat – that’s what it’s all about.
To purchase tickets to see David Rocco at the Eat! Fraser Valley Show please click here: Eat! Fraser Valley Show
by Sheila LoGuisto
Images supplied by David Rocco
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