When you think of a like-able guy in food, chances are your mind is going to Fabio Viviani; or as we like to think of him – the charmer of all things culinary. Viviani is no doubt one of those Top Chef competitors that audiences couldn’t get enough of, a fact that culminated into stints on both Top Chef: All Stars and Life After Top Chef.
Now, the Italian chef has his hands in everything from his own restaurants, to restaurant consulting, to a home brand, to television all the way to cookbook publishing. We personally can’t hide the fact that we’re somewhat crushing on our TNP subject today…but is there really a better way to start your Monday?
What would be your ideal food day?
Without a stomachache? Like if I had a faucet pipe straight down in the ground. I would get up, and while I was trying to open my eyes from a very long stressful day prior, I would probably walk to Maialino and get the sticky buns. To-go, to-go, to-go, to-go. Then, after that, I would fly to Los Angeles to get the cured pancetta – a block, not just a couple of slices – seared for breakfast with a sticky bun at my California restaurant. Then I’m going to go home to make some homemade granola with flax seed, chia seed, oatmeal, almonds, and raw honey – actually manuka honey, because it’s really good and energizing for breakfast.
And then I’m going to make a cappuccino. I’ve got a great way of making cappuccino. You get a mason jar, and you put some half and half in it. You wrap it with saran wrap. Microwave it for forty-five seconds. Shake it really hard, and it comes out the best foam on the planet for the home user. You can give me credit for that.
And then probably a little orange juice, because I like orange juice for breakfast. Since I had a long breakfast, it’s already lunchtime. Lunch has got to be light. A burrata salad with homemade sun-dried tomato and sliced skirt steak, and a little pasta – a light ravioli. Although it doesn’t sound light, I would make it with ricotta inside – whipped ricotta, not just crappy ricotta from a jar. Whipped ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil and some shaved parmesan. And I think I’m good for lunch.
Now, in the afternoon, if I have to choose what to eat, I would love to eat two things. A Focaccia di Recco – thin focaccia, baked, cut in half with mortadella and stracchino cheese spread inside, closed, and baked again. Or, one thing I have been craving a lot lately, which I have a lot in Miami, is a double burger from Shake Shack. Seriously, it’s really that good. And a vanilla shake. Because it’s mid-afternoon, it can’t be too heavy. Right.
And then, for dinner…Wow. I am eating my ass off all day! So for dinner, I would probably have a whole roasted chicken – I like to buy small chickens, so you can roast them and eat them whole – and roasted potatoes. Then I would like to have some sweet potato and vanilla. You just bake it and make it nice and soft inside, then you cut it in half, and you spread some vanilla butter on it. (You’re welcome for that America by the way). And then I would eat some gelato. Somehow throughout the day, I would squeeze some gelato in. I’d have two bottles of wine with the roasted chicken, because you know, we’re not talking hangover.
And then, the reality is that I probably would love to have a bowl of fried Oreo cookies from Prime 112 in Miami. Now I think after a day like that, we’re good. I think we’re good.
How has competitive food TV changed since you first started?
It ruins everything. Before I came to the United States, before food and TV was even an option, the only critics of your food were food critics. And nobody gave a crap about it because, big deal, you made one customer unhappy. There are plenty of them. A mistake, if made in an honest way, is okay. Everybody does it. Food critics make plenty of mistakes, they just don’t write about it. So the reality is that it ruins everything for everybody, but also makes it easier for everybody to understand the difference between good food and bad food. It’s a blessing and a curse. Everyone is now more knowledgeable about food, so they kind of understand where a chef is coming from. But, everybody has become just a f*cking pain in the ass, because now everybody knows everything. It’s like Sunday football – everybody is a coach from their couch.
What do you wish you knew your first season of Top Chef that you know now?
That perception is reality, and that a reality show is not really real. I mean, it’s real; you cannot put words in my mouth. But you can copy and paste what I said then, and air it now. So technically what I wish I knew is that editing is a bitch. Nothing food, because I didn’t learn anything from the experience. When you go on a competition like that, you do what you know. You don’t reinvent the wheel and look like a fool on national television. So, I wish I knew editing is a bitch. But that’s alright.