One observation we haven't yet made about the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival is that one Rocco Dispiritio was everywhere. At the demonstrations, cooking, gallivanting, schmoozing, smiling, self-promoting. You get the idea. But, wherever the 'fit'-looking former star of "The Restaurant" —and, let's be fair, three-star chef of Union Pacific— went, the crowds absolutely swarmed. At the Golden Clog Awards, for example, in the middle of the show, while Bourdain and Ruhlman were mid song and dance, a line formed on the side of the stage for Rocco pictures and autographs. For a guy who hasn't done a whole lot except push olive oil and cook in cafeterias, for the better part of three years. Impressive.
Which brings us to this.
While he's absolutely not opening up another restaurant any time soon, 2008 is going to be the second coming of Rocco Dispirito. Brace: he's got the new A&E cooking show coming out mid-year, he's making big time appearances on "Biggest Loser" and "Top Chef" and he's got cookbook number 5 in the works. Also, El Rocco Grande is training for the St. Croix Ironman and doing things like getting himself on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" for kicks. Sure, he's been in and around the scene ever since he got over his hangover from "The Restaurant," but something is different this time around. The stars seem aligned. Just get ready by August/September, is all we're saying.