Rocco DiSpirito, Karina Smirnoff, Dancing with the Stars

ABC/KELSEY McNEAL

No doubt celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito can heat things up in the kitchen. Unfortunately, his footwork on last night's Dancing With the Stars left the judges rather cold. He and Karina Smirnoff scored only 14 out of a possible 30.

But hey, DiSpirito did beat at least one other duo last night: Comedian Jeff Ross and Edyta Sliwinska tumbled into last place with a measly 12. DiSpirito says the judges' harsh comments give him "further incentive to work hard and get better."

I caught up with the cooking superstar to find out what happened when Smirnoff injured her ankle just hours before the premiere, why he believes his dancing was underwhelming and what he thinks about, um, national health care? (I'll be chatting exclusively with DiSpirito after his performances each week for as long as he stays in the game.)

How did it go last night? Better than you expected? Not so better than you expected?
The dancing has been cleaner in rehearsals, but It felt much more alive and fun than I had ever dreamed it could be—that was a 10/10 pinnacle life moment!

Did you have a preperformance ritual? You know, like rubbing a rabbit's foot, saying a prayer...
No, but clearly I need one!

What happened when Karina injured her ankle? Did it affect practice at all? Did you have to change your routine?
We were both horrified and stopped practice. We immediately went to a doctor to rule out anything serious. I practiced with Ashly DelGrosso, a former pro on the show. She was going to dance for Karina if need be.

What’s been the hardest part of Dancing so far?
Nothing is easy, but it really is so much fun. Everyone in America should do it. Dancing should be our national health-care system!

Now, your score wasn’t that high…Do you think judges were fair?
Their comments serve as further incentive to work hard and get better, but I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I am not concerned about my "score." I think I am growing up!

What are you going to do differently to improve your score?
Now that opening-night jitters have been cleared from my system, I will be able to relax and execute the dance I know so well. Last night's errors were all about being extremely nervous.

So are you going to try to win favor with the judges by cooking them some nice dinners?
Absolutely!

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