He was the handsome, charming Italian "Top Chef" contestant "fresh out of the boat," as he put it, who didn't take home top honors but did capture viewers' hearts.
Fabio Viviani was recently voted the "fan favorite" of the popular Bravo TV reality show and took home $10,000.
From Florence, Italy, Viviani, 31, is owner and executive chef of Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar, in Ventura County, Calif., that was already busy and well-regarded, but Viviani has seen his own and his restaurant's popularity explode.
Viviani was in a tight competition for fan favorite with the wacky, spiritual and hilarious chef Carla Hall, who was among the Top 3 finalists. In fact, Viviani said in an interview with Bravo that he voted for Hall as fan favorite 20 times.
It was that kind of good nature and broken-English witticisms that put Viviani over the top as fan favorite. Perhaps his most memorable moment was during a challenge in which he broke his finger while cooking. Asked whether he wanted to go to hospital, Viviani said he'd rather chop off his finger, sear it on the hot grill and deal with it tomorrow than not finish the challenge.
Viviani has also set up a web site with resources and recipes to raise healthy kids. Visit www.kidshealthcafe.com for more information.
Two of Viviani's recipes from Café Firenze are below.
Makes 2 servings
8 oz. fresh fettuccine
½ stick butter
¼ lb. pancetta, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 tsp. red chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
Salt & pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Prepare a large pot of boiling, salted water for pasta and cook according to instructions.
Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet. Add pancetta, onion, chili flake to melted butter. Saute until pancetta is crisp on medium-high heat, about 6 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits. Add tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chopped parsley and cooked pasta. Toss with cheese, and serve!
*Recipe courtesy of Chef Fabio Viviani, owner & executive chef of Café Firenze in Moorpark, Calif.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 stick of butter, divided in half
4 slices of prosciutto, sliced thinly
4 leaves of fresh sage
1 small jar/can of marinated artichokes, drained (you will need about a handful of them)
1 cup of dry white wine
Salt & pepper
Place each chicken breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap, and pound until about a ¼ of an inch thin. Season with salt and pepper. On each seasoned and pounded chicken breast, place 2 sage leaves, then top with 2 slices of prosciutto, so that you have the sage sandwiched between the chicken and the prosciutto.