David Rocco and Chef Mayank at ITC Sonar

Me: What do you like about India?
David Rocco: Well, I love India. Its crazy, its fun, its dysfunctional, and its the ride of a lifetime! What’s not to love?


Dear Readers, David Rocco to me was a discovery made in 2006 or so. I was browsing through YouTube videos, and suddenly I came across a fabulous recipe of pasta, cooked by a handsome Italian with a charming smile, cute accent, and a love for food which showed in his every move. Back then, I was not aware of the show “Dolce Vita”, but I scoured the net for the episodes and helplessly followed them. I cooked, brainstormed, added twists to the dishes, substituted, and came up with things of my own. The one thing he had taught me was that there were no hard and fast rules about cooking. It was to move from one experience to another.

So, when I received an invite to interact with THE David Rocco, I think for a few seconds my mind went blank. He had been to Kolkata before – but I did not know he had come again – this time, he had come for ‘Dolce India’, and he was staying at ITC Sonar, where we got a chance to interact with him. After a considerable amount of time, during which we consumed copious amounts of good food, He was there.

Yes, I deliberately capitalized the word He.

Kolkata is humid, and David has already gone out with Chef Mayank from ITC Sonar for a trip to the markets. The fresh fish and vegetables has definitely caught his attention, and there is going to be episodes in Kolkata with food that is definitely with a strong Bengali overtone. I had a conversation with Chef Mayank, and he told me, smilingly, that he loved the seasonal vegetables, and made sure that they were featured in the food he made. As a Chef, it is always a good idea to emphasize on the importance of the ingredients, and David will be using them and giving a traditional recipe his own little twist. There is a considerable use of certain ingredients in the menu of Bengal, and we are focussing on them.

So, after a pretty lavish meal, consisting of chicken, fish and tenderloin, we sat around David.

David talked about his love for Naples – with Sophia Loren, Espresso and good, simple food, his initial learning about food started with watching others cook. It was his love for Italy, which he described as crazy, passionate, and dysfunctional, which made him seek out other countries which were equally crazy and fun.

Of course, his learning was bolstered with a considerable amount of research and in India, he found the very interesting balance of different kinds of food. He spoke about the conglomeration of food which fascinated him – the taste, texture, flavors were unique, and each region had something different to offer.

Salad dressed simply with vinaigrette, with Parmesan shaving on top
In Kolkata, he will be shooting quite steadily, and he talked about the simplicity that he found in Bengali food. Essentially, this is because of the climate – it is too humid out here to eat anything super spicy. While speaking, we did talk about the kind of food he was going to make for the show, and he smiled gleefully and said, “Its a secret!” 

Chicken, fish and sausage! Bliss! 

Given his love for street food, he will definitely check out a few different places around town, and well, will eat anything as long as it did not give him the “Delhi Belly”, he grinned as he said the last phrase. I might have given him a couple of suggestions.

chocolate extravaganza! 

Of course, no meal at ITC Sonar is complete without great food, and David went into the kitchen to check on the meat being cooked for us. Lunch was simple but packed with flavors – a simple salad, followed by some gorgeous fish and chicken, and steak, if you are in the mood. The dessert truly stole the show – Westview Bar and Grill has been my favorite for making great steaks and desserts, and the triple chocolate pyramid, with a bittersweet bottom, milk chocolate and white chocolate mousse-like layers was decadent.

david rocco

David’s Dolce India Season II will comprise of 13 episodes, and will move from Kashmir to Bengal to down South, so stay alert, and you might just bump into him in the streets! And if you do, tell him, ‘Poorna said Hi!’

I could not help but take this opportunity to take a photo with him. Thank you Priyadarshini from All That’s Delicious!

David Rocco and Poorna Banerjee

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee interacted with David Rocco at the kind invitation of ITC Sonar management. 

Written by Poorna Banerjee

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