In Which We Send Tap-Dancing Chef Rocco DiSpirito to Therapy

Rocco DiSpirito used to be a critically-acclaimed chef, but then he did that show the Restaurant and then Top Chef and The Biggest Loser and finally Dancing With the Stars. Now nobody respects him!

After working in the high-class kitchens of New York's Penisula Hotel and the St. Regis Hotel's Lespinasse, he left to open — and hit his culinary peak with Union Pacific, which closed down four years ago as he morphed into a celebrity chef. He had been beat up a lot while growing up in Queens, but now the ritual beatings come from the "knife-sharpening snark squadrons of Gawker.com and a segment of the gastronomic elite."

Are we getting blamed for driving someone to drink/shrink again? The NYT noted in today's profile that one of his answers "carried a distinct echo of therapy," to which Mr. DeSpirito replied, "There’s been lots of therapy."

But seriously, everyone important in the food biz is wondering where he went, and why he just threw it all away to go on the TV.

“We were talking the other day, another food-obsessed person and I, and we were just saying how sad it was that he has disappeared,” said Gael Greene, the grande dame of New York food scribes, and one of the first to celebrate Mr. DiSpirito’s talent 13 years ago when he was the chef at Dava. “I do believe that ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is kind of the last stop... I don’t understand — has he totally lost that passion to cook?"

Embarrassingly, he mentions Balthazar/Pastis founder Keith McNally and McNally won't even give comment. Then it's back to blaming the "elite" bloggers who pick on him who are just out of touch with the rest of America: "The vast majority of what I hear from the people who appreciate what I do — which is I think more of the general public, more of America, versus the people who write and read Gawker."

Rocco, prepare to get your ass kicked after school today.