Fabio Viviani

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Not many chefs can brag that they started their careers when they were only preteens. Fabio Viviani worked nights at a bakery in Florence, Italy when he was only 11. Before his teenage years were spent, he managed to be mentored by celebrated Italian chef Simone Mugnaini and parlayed those skills into running five restaurants in Florence, a Farm House and two nightclubs by the time he was 27. His bonafide skills and natural human magnetism led him to be a breakout star on Top Chef, where he was crowned “Fan Favorite.” If you’re still skeptical about Viviani’s star power consider this: he’s lent his name to a line of cookware, made by Italian manufacturer Bialetti no less. Here, Viviani reflects on ravioli, family and beating Bobby Flay (but not in the way you’re thinking).

What is your idea of a perfect meal?
I would start with a small appetizer and pasta is a must. I’m a steak guy and love having it with lobster too–and of course wine. I prefer cabernet. Fabio8

What recipe still gives you goosebumps?
A really good ravioli recipe.

What cooking personality, living or dead do you most admire?
Jamie Oliver.

What’s a style of cooking foreign to you that you wish you had down pat?
Thai cooking–I love Thai food but I don’t know how to cook it.

Which ingredients do you find yourself using the most?
Olive oil and garlic.

What was your biggest culinary disaster?
When I was 20 years old, I dropped a wedding cake right before the cake cutting ceremony.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi. What food do you dream of?
Ravioli–I love ravioli.

What’s your most treasured kitchen tool?
A wooden spoon.

If you weren’t a chef, what other occupation could you see yourself excelling in?
Veterinarian.

Mario Batali has clogs. What’s your most marked characteristic?
In the kitchen, I always wear my John Varvatos sneakers and G-Star jeans in the kitchen.

What food do you hold in the lowest of regards?
Cilantro.

What is the quality you most like in a chef?
I admire chefs who have a lot of patience.

What is the quality you most like in a diner?
People who are enthusiastic about the food they are eating makes them truly appreciate food.

Chef Boyardee or Colonel Sanders?
I guess if I had to choose it’ll be Chef Boyardee.

Who or what inspires you?
My family, my wife and newborn son.

How do you take your coffee?
I gave up on coffee about three to four years ago. When I used to drink coffee, I had a lot of cream and sugar.

What food trend drives you batty?
Molecular gastronomy.

In-N-Out or Five Guys?
In-N-Out when I’m in L.A. and Five Guys when I’m in Chicago.

Could you “beat” Bobby Flay?
I’m pretty sure in a boxing match I can beat Bobby Flay (I have 14 years of boxing experience), but in the kitchen I would need to try.

Do you prescribe to any kitchen superstitions?
I don’t have any superstitions in particular but I don’t like pants with loud prints and designs. I’ve seen pants with chili peppers, rainbows or unicorns for example and it’s distracting. Those pants are for seven year-olds, not chefs in the kitchen.

What’s a childhood dish you loved that still sticks with you?
Ravioli.

Biggest cooking fear?
My fear is that one of these days I’ll eat a dish with cilantro in it and wouldn’t know until after I ate it.

What do you cook on your off days?
I like to go out to dinner on my days off. I’m already cooking on all the other days!

Go-to guilty pleasure food?
Nutella and a Bombo Burger from Bombo Bar

If you ate some poorly prepared blowfish sashimi and passed, what person or thing would you like to come back as?
I would come back as the person who served me the sashimi and jump off the Sears Tower. I’m just kidding, but really… c’mon!

What is your catchphrase?
“Hi I’m Fabio. You’re Welcome.”

Marcel Roost is a hyper-intelligent rooster who could out-write and out-cook the best of them. His love for haute cuisine is only matched by his hatred of Kentucky Colonels. When he's not heckling fusion chefs, he can usually be found at some high-end bar "singing the body Martini." He's anything but corn fed, despite being—well—corn fed.

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