It was my distinct pleasure to recently interview America’s top celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Top Chef is a reality competition on Bravo TV that features chefs from around the country aspiring to be crowned “Top Chef”. While Vivani did not win Top Chef in the season 5 competition he was voted “Fan Favorite”. The popular reality series is a favorite amongst “foodies” from around the world and is now in its 10th season.
Fabio Viviani is a self made man whose life story is so interesting I was compelled to share it with you. After all this is a wine column and what is better than well paired food and wine which is what brought Fabio and I together. Viviani’s story begins in Florence, Italy where he was born and raised. Early on in Viviani’s life his mother became ill and he made a decision to quit school and go to work in a bakery. He was 11 years old at the time and worked from 12 midnight to 8 in the morning helping earn money to support his family.
At 14 Viviani began working at Italian Florentine iconic restaurant “Il Pallaio” and by age 16 had risen to the position of sous chef. Viviani’s hard work paid off and he was able to attend culinary school and travel throughout Europe, training in classic Italian and European cuisine. By the time Viviani was 27 years old he had 5 restaurants and 2 night clubs in Italy.
Being an entrepreneur Viviani sought out new challenges and moved to Los Angeles where he owns two restaurants, Café Firenze and Firenze Osteria. Since appearing on Top Chef in season 5 Viviani has been a contestant on Top Chef All Stars, and most recently featured on BravoTV’s newest culinary reality series Life after Top Chef.
On February 15th Viviani opened the Siena Tavern an Italian concept restaurant in Chicago. His newest venture is located just off Michigan Avenue, better known as the Miracle Mile, in a hip neighborhood of clubs and restaurants. Following our interview I received an invitation from Viviani to join him for the grand opening of the Siena Tavern.
Red carpet, a long line, security checking names on a list, and yes a beautiful new Ferrari sitting right outside the entry to the restaurant is what I encountered as I got out of my cab. The cameras were flashing and the energy was high, everyone in the establishment was excited to be there including the media and the cast of NBC’s Chicago Fire.
The décor of the Siena Tavern is rustically elegant and simply sophisticated, perhaps mimicking Viviani’s own personality. Viviani’s Old World devotion and attention to detail featuring culinary skills so complex and sophisticated that his food presents as simple, natural, yet beautiful and delicious. Vivani is not the chef that paints a Picasso on the dish before he plates the food, the food clearly speaks for itself.
I had the pleasure of sharing some of my favorite wines from Balletto Vineyards & Winery in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, and Hedges Family Estate located in the Red Mountain appellation of the Columbia Valley in Washington State.
In April 2013 Viviani is releasing his third cook book titled Fabio’s Italian Kitchen. Family recipes covering 20 generations of grandmothers spanning 300 hundred years adorn this cookbook. Visit FabioViviani.com where you can sign up for Vivani’s newsletter and keep up in touch with this rising star.
Hard work, passion, and commitment is who Fabio Viviani. Indeed a rare individual who rises to the top remaining true to himself and all whose lives are touched by him.
It was a great night at the Siena Tavern; don’t miss the opportunity to visit when in Chicago. The wines I shared with my friend Fabio are available at Liquid Planet in the heart of Downtown Missoula for your ultimate wine shopping experience. Learn more about these wines and others at http://www.WineGuyMike.com