Rocco Dispirito, Chef/Partner, Union Pacific, NYC

Rocco Dispirito, Chef/Partner, Union Pacific, NYC

Age: 32. Why he's rising: DiSpirito is opening eyes, and raising eyebrows, at Union Pacific in NYC's re-emergent Flatiron district. "If you have an adventurous palate, DiSpirito can take you on a culinary thrill ride," wrote RH contributor John Mariani in Esquire, which named Union Pacific one of the country's best new restaurants for 1998. Background: Graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1986, studied classical technique at the Jardin de Cygne in Paris. Then back to New York to work at Adrienne in the Peninsula Hotel, then to Boston to work with Chef Mark Baker at Aujour d'hui, then to New York, where he worked with David Bouley, Charles Palmer, Gilbert Le Coze and Gray Kunz. Cooking style: Contemporary American with global touches. Signature dish: Taylor Bay Scallop with Uni (shashimi-quality scallops sit adjacent to bright-orange sea urchins seasoned with a layering of flavors including sweet tomato essence, mustard oil, mirin and mustard seeds). Mentor: Gray Kunz. What the critics say: "hypercreative."—Gourmet