Side Bar: Rocco DiSpirito and The Standard Grill Part Ways

My very first post on the Daily Dish was a review of Rocco DiSpirito’s return to a restaurant kitchen in February of this year. Now, he and The Standard Grill have parted ways according to the New York Post and the New York Times. After turning the story over in my head many times, I decided I wanted to comment on the move. DiSpirito’s return to restaurant cooking was a catalyst for me, finally something I cared enough to write about. The piece was the first step in bringing the Daily Dish to life.

Okay, now onto the details of the separation.

With the departure so sudden, the main talking points were that it was mutual. . . and that DiSpirito is not leaving the restaurant business. Page Six first reported the story:

A foodie tipster told Page Six on Wednesday that diners with reservations were called on Tuesday and informed that DiSpirito would not be in the kitchen. The source said an alternate menu was being offered to “any guests that still chose to show up for their dinner reservations.” A rep for the Standard commented: “We are parting ways mutually and amicably.”

“Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito out at Standard Grill ,” New York Post, Oct. 23, 2019

The only other ‘source’ info that I could glean came from Florence Fabricant in her “Chefs on the Move” section of her weekly.

This celebrity chef, highly praised for his food at the Standard Grill since the beginning of this year, has left on what he said were good terms. He is planning other restaurant projects.

“Off the Menu, ” The New York Times, Oct. 29, 2019

And then there was an article by Kat Kinsman on the Food and Wine site that was probably hastily written as it began with a longer interview months ago, but was expedited by his sudden departure. The piece covers a lot of ground and provides much emotional backstory about DiSpirito. It’s reads like an authorized biography albeit super pithy, and contains anecdotes I had never read before. But her recounting of the separation was equally vague.

Contracts exist for various reasons, including making paths by which both parties may exit gracefully. But DiSpirito isn’t walking away from the industry. Not this time. The past year behind a restaurant stove reignited something inside him, and he knows more than ever that he cannot live without it.   

“Where’d You Go, Rocco DiSpirito?” Food and Wine, Oct. 25,2019

I scoured Twitter and found a few post-departure tweets but mainly referencing the Kinsman piece.

We all know life is long and that narratives are easier to spin in hindsight. I was actually not that enthralled with DiSpirito’s menu at the Standard Grill so not lamenting his departure. But I know enough about brand marketing and PR to know that the splitting of ways that includes taking the menu with you with one day notice indicates something bigger had to be going on. And it’s okay that we don’t have the details.

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