Season Five Top Chef fan favorite Fabio Viviani recently opened a South Beach outpost of his established Siena Tavern of Chicago in the former China Grill space on Washington Ave and 5th Street. I sat down with Fabio with Five Questions:
1. What is your opinion when people refer to you as a “Celebrity Chef”?
That is fine. Exposure leads people to call you a celebrity chef. First and foremost though is that I work 130Hrs a week. Last night one of the plumbing sinks went out and I was underneath there soaked in nasty water trying to help fix it. THAT does not sound like a celebrity chef. If it helps bring people in my restaurants then great, but I am just a hardworking guy.
2. What Inspired you to start the website http://www.kidshealthcafe.com?
It’s still in a Beta setting right now. Childhood obesity is from kids eating processed artificial food. They have never been taught how to eat and cook right. Margarine is a good example. It is very close to being plastic. Empty calories. Soda and junk food. The body is not meant to try to process a bunch of hydrogenated oils and other man made chemicals. Growing up in my house we were not allowed to eat bread or pasta that we did not make ourselves. People need to spend the time each day to cook for themselves. People who say they do not have the time to do that need to realize that you will end up short changing your lifespan. Take the time now and you will have much more at the end.
3. Tell me about Fabio Viviani Wines. Have you always wanted to be in the wine business?
I do not make wine but I have been in the business of drinking wine all my life. In Italy, kids are given small amounts of wine with dinner. It’s the culture, so when they turn 21 they have no need to go binge drink in Vegas. I am a wine merchant not maker. I discover great wines. I blend them and bottle them under my name. It is sold at a fair price point. A good wine doesnot have to be very expensive. My wines have beat many high prices wines in tastings. It is accessible for everyone. I want people to enjoy a good wine at a good price.
4. Any new ventures in the near future?
My partners and I are about to open a steakhouse in Chicago. Although there are a lot of good steakhouses in Chicago we are confident we can hold our own and excel. We are also going to open a Siena Bar. Not a formal restaurant but a fun stylish place for people to go to start their evening. A nice bar lounge where you can still get some good food.
5. What passions do you have besides food and cooking?
I really am passionate about gardening and long distance target shooting. I love peace of gardening. I love long distance shooting with a sports rifle. I think it is cool to lay on the ground and shoot at a can of coke at 500 yards. You must stay focused, so I love it. I like fishing and boxing. Unfortunately I travel 300 days a year so I don’t get to indulge those passions much. Oh, I am very passionate about my wife. Make sure you print that!