Chef, Restaurateur, Author, Top Chef Fan Favorite, Husband, Dad… Fabio Viviani sure has his plate full, but it’s always packed with savory yet simple Italian food. Growing up in Florence, Italy, little Fabio found his love for everything culinary at an early age, and by the time he was 27, owned and operated five restaurants and two nightclubs. His relocation to the United States proved to be a valuable move as he teamed up with Dine|Amic Group, one of Chicago’s premier restaurant consulting groups, to open Siena Tavern in the River North area.
We could go on and on about Viviani’s impressive resume of creating an incredible dining experience, (along with the recent addition of “Fabio Viviani Day” on March 8, 2017, by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago) but what we’re really interested in is his home kitchen. We hope you enjoy a peek into the space where Chef Viviani’s hangs his hat when he’s “off.”
PB: You’ve cooked in some swanky kitchens, equipped with all the bells and whistles. I’ve heard your home kitchen is pretty impressive too. Did you opt for a large or small kitchen?
FV: We’ve got eight burners with 42,000 BPUs of gas power, a double convection oven, a microwave, and two walk-in refrigerators. It didn’t take me too long to plan because I knew what I wanted. The most important aspect to me was that because I’m a show guy — meaning there is a lot of showmanship in everything I do — I needed my kitchen to be an entertainment space that’s also versatile for cameras.
PB: How would you describe your design style?
FV: Easy, simple, and to-the-point. It’s very clean with a lot of white and stainless steel appliances. It’s functional, not fashionable.
PB: What impresses you about residential kitchen design today?
FV: You could pull a restaurant menu out of them! Now, most kitchens have professional-grade appliances and cooktops, some better than a restaurant itself.
PB: When you cook, are you messy? A social cook? Do you let your family in on meal prep?
FV: I don’t want anybody around when I cook. I’m a very messy cook, but I clean up after myself at home.
PB: Now that you have a little one, have you mastered the art of cooking one-handed with a baby in your arms?
FV: I always cook with one hand because with the other hand, I’m always on my cell making phone calls. Nothing has changed really—I just switch the phone with the baby!
PB: What dish reminds you of your childhood?
FV: Fresh pasta and meatballs!
PB: Let’s talk appliances and gadgets. Name the top 3 tools you need to survive in your home kitchen.
FV: Wooden spoon, food processor, and a good quality non-stick pan.
PB: You’ve talked about being everybody’s grandmother when it comes to cooking in your restaurants. What did your grandmother teach you about food/cooking? What is your fondest memory of Grandma?
FV: She taught me that less is more. Keep it simple. My fondest memory of Grandma is of me standing between her legs as she wheel-chaired herself through the house.
PB: Favorite dish to cook on your day off. Got a recipe to share?
FV: Fresh pasta – Orecchiette with prosciutto sausage and broccolini (from Siena Tavern)
When he’s not in the kitchen, Chef Fabio Viviani has a passion for business. He is a frequent keynote speaker on branding, marketing, and social media, and recently launched an online educational platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs called, Know-How Leadership Academy.
Viviani has his own line of cookware at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and has been featured on dozens of national television shows and now has his own YouTube channel, Fabio’s Kitchen.
Find one of Fabio Viviani’s award-winning restaurants near you.