At Thrillist, Kevin Alexander reviews the life and times of Rocco DiSpirito — whose career trajectory has included leading much-lauded restaurants, being a reality television star, and hawking frozen foods. But once upon a time, he was just a gifted, audacious young cook: when Ruth Reichl was still reviewing restaurants for The New York Times, she described DiSpirito’s food as “shockingly unique. As a critic, you’re dying to find chefs like him.” Unfortunately for New York’s epicures, DiSpirito hasn’t been in a restaurant kitchen since 2004. Why? He got famous, and being famous became a job of its own.
He achieved celebrity status. And once you agree to the Faustian bargain that is celebrity status, every decision becomes a business decision, every utterance becomes a matter of branding. Your tweets and Instagram posts are agonized quid pro quos with other celebrities or boldfaced promotions of your products or shows. Your appearances are only to promote things, to further push your Sisyphean rock up Celebrity Hill. You tweet at Kim Kardashian when she mentions protein shakes, because she’s higher up the celebrity chain, and you hope she does you the solid of responding in front of millions so they can see that you two are just Two Celebrities Bantering On Twitter. You tweet at Dr. Oz when he wins a Daytime Emmy. You tweet reviews of your protein powder. You tweet nine consecutive times about watching “The Chew vs The View.“