From Food to Fiction: David Ruggerio

David Ruggerio’s life story could easily be turned into an Oscar-nominated movie. The whole world got to know him as the “Super Chef” and a charismatic TV personality. Yet only those close to him knew about his lifelong passion for literature and writing. Through thick and thin, books were trusted companions for the Brooklyn native. Eventually, they became another one of his masterful creations.

Ruggerio always followed his passion and was never afraid to forge new paths. He was an innovator in the kitchen, making his own cheeses and condiments for never-before-seen dishes, and now has become an award-winning fiction author. 

New York to the White House

David Ruggerio

Ruggerio rose to the position of top chef at the famous La Caravelle in New York by age 25. He went on to take command of Pierre Cardin’s New York outpost of Maxim’s de Paris, where he garnered three stars from The New York Times. In 1995, Robert Mondavi, the note vintner, named him one of the best young chefs in America. 

With two acclaimed cookbooks under his belt, David Ruggerio became known as a “Super Chef” and was called for television guest spots that quickly turned into his own shows. He hosted the iconic TV shows Ruggerio to Go on the Food Network, and Little Italy with David Ruggerio on PBS. Throughout his outstanding career as a chef, Ruggerio cooked for five US Presidents.  

Words that Heal

Despite his success, Ruggerio’s life wasn’t always a bed of roses. The chef-turned-author grew up in a very bad neighborhood in Brooklyn during the 60s and 70s. Those were tumultuous times, but his furtive love of reading took him away from the dangers in the street. It was the devastating loss of his oldest son —in 2014— that got him into writing fiction as a form of catharsis. 

“In 2014 I lost my oldest son, Anthony, to opioid addiction. My heart was torn out of me, every morning of every day; I didn’t know how to get up and continue life. I returned to my love of books, but this time I felt a desperate need to express myself through writing. I wake every morning at 4 am, and think of my beloved son, and write. I write and write; it keeps me from falling apart,” confessed Ruggerio.

A Bestseller Is Born

His first debut genre-fiction horror novel, A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men and Monsterswas released five years later, in 2019, just in time for Halloween. The book became an Amazon bestseller and won the Maxy Award for Best Horror 2019. 

Set in the little town of Brunswick NY, A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men and Monsters, brings to mind what you might get if director Tim Burton wrote horror novels. During a snowy Halloween, a young William Willowsby must battle evil forces that had been contained by the locals for generations. On the outskirts of the town in the abandoned Forest Park Cemetery, all things wicked converge. A rarely seen homunculus and an evil taskmaster weave a wicked web that attempts to snare the youth of the hamlet. A creepy graveyard, a spooky schoolhouse, an abandoned mortuary, and a mysterious member of his own family will leave you simply sleepless.

David Ruggerio declares himself a horror aficionado, especially of the classics. 

“I’ve read everyone from Mary Shelly to Bram Stoker to Washington Irving. I wanted to write a book that people would pick up again and again during the Halloween season,” says the author. 

A Love Story You Wished You Lived

David’s multi-faceted talent needs more than one avenue or literary genre to express itself. The chef may like scary stories, but he is all heart. Staying true to his Italian roots, love plays an important part in everything he does. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Say Goodbye and Goodnight, his second novel released earlier in June, is a love story. According to the Manhattan Book Review, “Thisromance is one that every individual will wish to experience in their lifetime.”

The protagonist, Anthony Marino, is a young up-and-coming fighter in 1977 Brooklyn. Beneath the harsh surface of racism, economic struggles, and turbulent politics, Brooklyn offered much more. It was the time of disco, the music that liberated a generation, and through it, Anthony finds his one true love, Gia. Theirs is an epic love story, one that flourishes despite envy and hatred. Say Goodbye and Goodnight is the story of their love and the perils that wait for them behind every corner. 

One thing is sure: there will be more bookish surprises coming from David Ruggerio in the years to come. Away from the spotlight, he spends his days writing in his home on the East Coast. Keep an eye on his website to make sure you won’t miss his next bestseller!

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