If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I have started a weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs. Through your TV networks, or perhaps on other blogs, or even just right here on More Than Burnt Toast you may have heard of some of our Canadian chefs. For those of you who haven't, I hope you will find it interesting to see what our chefs are up to, a little about their history and how they came to love what they do. For the next few months I will be featuring one of our Canadian chefs each week. As the fourth installment in my Canadian Chef series I will introduce you to:
David Rocco credits his love for cooking simple and delicious foods to his Italian heritage. Born in Toronto, to Neapolitan parents who immigrated to Canada in the '50's, the 36-year-old Canadian-Italian is the youngest of three children. He says, "His lifelong appreciation for good food was formed in his mother's kitchen when he was a little boy and it continues to inspire him today". As is the custom in Italy, mealtimes were always special in the Rocco household.
During his school years, David took up acting and modeling which allowed him to travel worldwide while earning his degree in economics. But after graduation, it was the kitchen, not the business word of Bay Street in Toronto, that called him. He and his wife Nina opened up their restaurant “La Madonnina” in Toronto. After 2 years or running their successful business, the couple decided to change course, and merge their mutual passion for cooking and all things Italian with David’s natural abilities in front of the camera. They formed their production company, Rockhead Entertainment. David and his wife Nina, were given the chance to present Avventura: Journeys in Italian Cuisine, a 26-episode travel and Italian cooking show, which aired in Canada. It was a hit and he branched off with his first cookbook. The show is currently syndicated in 40 countries in 6 different languages.
The Roccos wanted to continue to share their love and passion for food and life that reflected their own personal style, so, they created “David Rocco’s Dolce Vita” and pitched it to the Food Network. They oversee every single aspect of the show from planning to editing to final delivery to the networks. David Rocco’s Dolce Vita” is a unique show. According to his web site, "It provides the viewer with accessible and delicious classic Italian food, focusing on fresh and seasonal ingredients and techniques that any home chef can master, along with a taste of the Italian lifestyle." The show is now seen in 120 countries and counting! The show is shot in Florence, Sicily and the Amalfi Coast. David and his wife Nina divide their time between their homes in Florence, Italy and Toronto, Canada. They are the proud parents of twins Emma and Giorgia born in 2008.
David is also personally responsible for picking all of the music on the show. The music is a mix which reflects his own eclectic tastes to specially written themes played under the cooking segments to original songs written by musicians who loved the spirit of the show and wanted to contribute. The music has struck a major chord. As a result, Rockhead Entertainment released their first soundtrack which is available in stores.
Fans have been waiting for his latest cookbook!! Eagerly anticipated, this book is full of everything that makes the TV show such a favourite such as beautiful food photography throughout Italy, and, of course, David's sense of la dolce vita, the sweet life. According to Amazon, "His cookbook is all about taking a relaxed, enjoyable approach to the everyday, and the foundation of this lifestyle is simple, elegant food. David's easygoing style embraces straightforward ingredients and techniques to create wonderful dishes anyone can enjoy without stress. He emphasizes the philosophy of quanto basta, or "just enough," and encourages readers to suit their own tastes. Try some of David's wonderful fizzi, simple but sophisticated snacks: Fiori de zucca (zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies) or Frico (parmigiano chips). Delight in Spaghetti con pomodorini e pecorino (spaghetti with cherry tomato sauce and pecorino cheese), delicious Beef carpaccio (easier than you think!), or meltin- your-mouth Gnudi ("naked" ravioli)."
I wanted to share a pasta dish with you from his web site. This pasta dish requires using several methods I have not come across before and with the addition of the rosewater it has a distinctive flavour that is really quite delicious.....I think SPRING IS HERE!!!!!!!!!
**Pasta anto te**
1 cup parmigiano cheese, finely grated (228g), plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 cup milk (117ml)
1 T unsalted butter (14g)
0.8 lb fresh tagliolini pasta (362g)
4 T extra virgin olive oil (59ml)
2 T rosewater (44ml)
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped (114g)
0.2 lb fresh sheeps milk ricotta cheese (100g)
a sprinkle of saffron
a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt to taste
To make the sauce, first make a parmigiano cream by combining parmigiano cheese, milk and butter in a stainless steel bowl.
Rest bowl over pot of simmering water. Stir until creamy and uniform and set aside.
Cook the tagliolini in a pot of boiling salted water. Stir to prevent from sticking together.
While the pasta is cooking (fresh pasta takes very little time to cook), place olive oil and rosewater in a saucepan over low heat.
Add pistachios, ricotta and saffron. Mix thoroughly.
Drain the pasta approximately 2 minutes before the al dente stage, reserving some of the pasta water.
Add pasta and the reserved pasta water to the saucepan. Mix well. Then add parmigiano cream, salt and stir thoroughly.
Sprinkle with parmigiano cheese and parsley.