Signature Host: Chef Fabio Viviani

He’s charming, fun, has an Italian accent – AND he can cook. It’s no surprise that Chef Fabio Viviani has a large audience of admirers and was voted “Season 5 Fan Favorite” following his several appearances on Bravo Network’s wildly successful reality show: “Top Chef.” Born in Florence, Fabio has become famous for his Tuscan dishes with a Florentine flair. We can’t wait to have Fabio as Signature Host for our October 22nd Athens to Rome sailing, so to tide you (and us) over until then, we sat down with the witty chef and asked him some questions:

You have had great success in your personal and professional life – both your charm and talent have made you a household name. Do you take your fame in stride or is it still surprising at times?

People’s reaction to me is still surprising.

What is your favorite dish to make?

My Grandma’s roasted chicken with lemon and thyme.

On the popular television show “Top Chef,” Season 5, you were Fan Favorite. How has the show changed your life?

Exposure – lots of exposure. I showcased my cooking and made new friends.  I have also been able to take advantage of new opportunities.

How would you describe the philosophy of Florentine cooking, and how have you embraced your roots in your own career?

I have never left my roots and they are very well showcased everyday in my cooking.  My Grandmother was my inspiration. About 80 percent of what I cook is from family recipes that date back 200 to 300 years. Fresh soups, salads, breads, pasta, meat and fish.   I have two Italian restaurants which focus on simple, laid-back Italian comfort food based on the philosophy of Florentine cooking – Café Firenze Restaurant and Martini Bar in Moorpark, California and Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake, California.

How often are you in the kitchen at your restaurants?

Whenever I am not traveling I am there. I host cooking classes at my restaurants as well.

When you’ve had a rough week and are craving comfort food, what is your go-to dish?

I enjoy simple, comfort food like chicken fried steak or traditional Italian or American comfort food dishes.

A celebrity in your own right, what is it like to be the personal chef for other celebrities?

I enjoy cooking for everyone. Celebrities are just like everyone else—I have friends that aren’t celebrities and friends that are. William Shatner is a good friend.

What three ingredients are ALWAYS in your kitchen?

Olive oil, flour and eggs.

What do you enjoy doing when you have time off from your busy schedule?

Since I don’t have a lot of time off, I try to catch up on things that need to be done at my house and of course get some sleep.

We are looking forward to having you as you Signature Host on our Athens to Rome, October 22, 2011, sailing on Wind Surf where you will be conducting a lecture, Q&A session and cooking demonstration.

I can’t wait—I love interacting with people. For those cruising, please bring lots of questions and be ready to have fun!

We are giving away a signed copy of “Café Firenze Cookbook, Mangia e Bevi,” by Fabio Viviani & Jacopo Falleni, so leave a comment below to be entered to win!

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