In last night's episode of 'Top Chef All-Stars,' guest judge Jimmy Fallon cut West coast-based Italiano Fabio Viviani because his chronically mispronounced burger ("boo-ger") recalled meatloaf. Viviani found the Fallon presence hilarious, and laughed himself back to Moorpark, CA where he's currently plotting his legacy at Cafe Firenze. Read on to learn more about Viviani's plans for a virtual future filled with web videos and more restaurants, and why he's spooked by the east coast approach to food.
Was it harder this time?
If you like butchering a cow with a butter knife, making soup in a bath tub, scaling fish with your fingernails—yeah, it’s brutal. It’s a show, I love it and I’d love to be on 'Top Chef' 13. Let’s try again.
Did you really think you could go all the way with a singular focus on Italian food?
That’s what I do. I’m not going to cheat myself. If tomorrow I’m Top Chef All Star by doing Chinese food, is that going to help my brand? It’s okay even if I don’t win. The show is good exposure. The more people who know me the better.
Have you been to any of the other contestants' restaurants?
No. I’m working 18 hours a day. Whenever I have time off I sleep. I’m building a legacy. If I go out for dinner, I don’t love to try too many new places. I’m not big in new food trends. I like food old-fashioned. I cannot have smoke as a third course. [He literally means smoke, as in the tricks of molecular gastronomy.] We have a word for sushi in Italy: It’s called bait.
How are you building a legacy?
Working [my] face off. Staying up 'til 4 A.M., answering everyone who has questions for me, waking up at 6 A.M. to do this interview with you.
I’m writing another book: Did I Really Make Breakfast??? I will start a wine blog with web videos to teach people that wine is very simple. I’m working a lot with my website: Live stream classes, video. I’m planning on filming a show this summer.
Will you open more restaurants?
I am thinking to open my next concept, a seafood restaurant, in downtown Ventura. I would love to have something on the east coast some day. But the east coast, to me, they listen too much to reviews and food critics. Here it’s all about food. I like trends built upon food not ink.
Does going on 'Top Chef' guarantee success in the real world?
No, absolutely not. Look at 'Jersey Shore.' Once it’s over those guys are fucked. You’ve got to be good before if you want to make it. It can get you there faster.
What would you have done with the $200K?
I don’t know. Ask somebody who wins. I don’t wrap my head before I crack it.
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