The Next Chapter

David Rocco takes the Proust questionnaire

Canadian-Italian television personality and chef David Rocco's latest book, Dolce Famiglia, focuses on traditional Italian recipes.
David Rocco's Dolce India follows the chef as he eats his way through India and experiments with Italian-Indian fusion. (Francesco Lastrucci)

David Rocco ​is a chef and host of the Food Network series David Rocco's Dolce Vita, where he makes his way through Italy to showcase the country's simple yet vibrant cuisine and culture. His latest book, Dolce Famiglia, is an homage to classic Italian recipes that have been enjoyed by families for over generations.

Below, Rocco completes The Next Chapter's take on the Proust questionnaire.

Dolce Famiglia features family-friendly recipes that have been staples in Italian households for generations. (HarperCollins)

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?

I overeat. I drink too much. Well, I shouldn't say that, but I probably do. I'm a bit gluttonous when it comes to food and the biggest problem is I love to eat even when I'm full. I think it's growing up as the son of an Italian immigrant. We had to always eat what was on our plate. We never were able to leave anything. And so I have this kind of habit that I eat even when I'm full or when I've had enough. I just eat.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being in Tuscany in November at the peak of the olive harvest, when the olives are freshly pressed. You go to the frantoio — the olive mill — and there are these big barrels of deep green olive oil. You get your Tuscan unsalted bread, and like milk and cookies, you dunk that thick slab of bread into the barrel of olive oil and then you add a little bit of salt and you eat it. It's dripping all over your hand and all over your arm and your chin and you're just in pure joy, happiness. 

Who are your favourite heroes in real life?

It would have to be my kids. They inspire me and just seeing every phase, how they overcome things — they actually make me better.

What do you do that makes you feel the most Canadian?

I think it's travel. When I'm in Canada and people say, "Where are you from?" I say I'm Italian. In Canada I'm Italian, but when I travel the world, I'm proudly, fiercely Canadian. And what's been really amazing is that over the last two or three years, you see this respect that Canadians have. I don't know if it's the older I get, I have more appreciation for this amazing country. But as I travel more, I'm more proudly Canadian.

David Rocco's comments have been edited and condensed.