Becoming a Chef Chef, author, radio and television character Rocco DiSpirito was born on November 19, 1966, in Queens, New York. A rising celebrity in the 1990s New York City culinary scene, DiSpirito has broadened his reach beyond the kitchen area to become a successful cookbook author and television character. His occupation selection was strongly influenced by his mom Nicolina, an exceptional home cook. As a kid expanding up in Jamaica, Queens, DiSpirito found out the dishes for lots of standard Italian meals from his mom. He furthered his food preparation skills and experience by entering the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at the age of 16. After completing his program in 1986, DiSpirito spent time in France, studying at the Jardin de Cygne with Dominique Cecillon and Gray Kunz.