Chef Rocco DiSpirito made me dinner last week. Well, he made hundreds of people dinner as part of the Celebrity Chef Dine Around on Jan. 30 during the Sun Winefest at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, CT. But still, there I was dining on DiSpirito’s Ricotta Gnudi Pomodoro, paired with Campo Viiejo Reserva, as I waited for a few minutes to chat with the chef.
DiSpirito’s focus in recent years has been making healthy food taste delicious. He has shed more than 30 lbs. (and some brewing health issues) by changing his diet and lifestyle.
Knowing how hard it is for folks in the hospitality industry to stay healthy with so many food and drink temptations, I asked him for some tips. For one thing, he says, make smart choices when ordering.
“Restaurants are about our happiness, not our health,” DiSpirito admits. Pay attention to menu descriptions for ingredients and trigger words like gooey and creamy, which signify diet-busting indulgences, he says.
Most people need to break the sugar addiction. Way easier said than done, of course, but sugar is a drug, DiSpirito says. You’ll feel much better when you stop eating and craving it.
And watch your alcohol intake. DiSpirito says he loves wine, beer and bourbon, but there are a lot of empty calories in alcohol—especially cocktails. So if you’re watching your weight it’s best to enjoy your spirits on the rocks. Or opt for a glass of prosecco, which has about 95 calories, he adds.
You have to do these things consistently if you want to see results, DiSpirito notes. That’s all great advice—and I followed none of it that night. Just a few of the dishes I enjoyed at the Sun Winefest’s Celebrity Chef Dine Around:
Chef Roshini Gurnani’s Indian Mustard Tempered Coconut Shrimp with pickled vegetable salad and cilantro chutney (paired with Absolut Elyx on the rocks); Chef Will Kovel’s Crispy Duck Rillettes and Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad (paired with Black Stallion Cabernet); Chef Brian Duffy’s New England Crab Grilled Cheese with “Duffified” Maryland Crab Soup (paired with Domaine Seguinot Chablis 2014); and Chef Manouschka Guerrier’s Coconut Avocado Ice Cream with Haitian Rum Passionfruit Caramel Sauce and Toasted Coconut (paired with Gloria Ferrer Va Di Vi).
But I did score a copy of DiSpirito’s latest book, The Negative Calorie Diet. So maybe I can undo some of the damage I inflicted.