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'Top Chef' Eliminated Chef: 'This Is Not Top Passion or Top Heart'

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 11th 2011 12:45PM
top_chef_all_stars_logo_bravoFondue pots and Fallon: That was the menu for Wednesday night's episode of 'Top Chef All Stars.'

Jimmy Fallon, host of the eponymous NBC late-night show, was the guest judge for the night, and the chefs were given the challenge of preparing Jimmy's favorite dishes -- in their own unique ways -- for the star's birthday lunch.

It was a deceptively simple task, and ironically, it was perhaps the easiest dish of all that tripped up a chef who had been one of the best of the bunch ... till now.

fabio_viviani_top_chef_all_stars_bravo'Top Chef' favorite Fabio Viviani, the breakout star from season 5, managed to flub a hamburger and French fries. Amazingly, the Italian chef couldn't make the quintessential American dish successfully.

But don't be upset for Fabio -- he's not. As our interview shows, he was grateful for the experience and the exposure. The owner and executive chef of two California restaurants -- Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar in Moorpark and Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake -- is super-busy.

He has a book on the Amazon bestseller list, plus two in the works. One, due out next fall, is a cookbook collaboration with his mother called 'My Son Is on Google: Recipes and Memories from an Italian Mom.'

Check out his thoughts about the show, the other chefs, and what he really thinks of judge Anthony Bourdain!

Did you think making a hamburger and French fries would be a piece of cake?
Yes, that's what I thought. The reality is that "booger," and I'm sorry that I keep butchering the name of your favorite dish, but I can't freakin' pronounce it. But the reality is that the one I made was delicious. Honestly, I don't think it was dry, but again, it's one man's opinion. Unfortunately, the one man's opinion was the head judge. So it doesn't matter what you think because you're still going home. I love 80 percent of the Craft menu, so maybe Tom [Colicchio] only loves 80 percent of the menu in my restaurants. I'm not crying about it.

Have you ever made a hamburger before?
No, I never made a burger before. Now I am learning. I went to Blais and I said, "Blais, how do you make a burger?" He told me how he made it and I did what he told me to do. I just didn't work out too well.

How did you feel about Mike Isabella criticizing Richard for helping other chefs?
I cannot believe that. Richard Blais is very focused on winning the competition, so he will do anything to win. I don't know if he would go out of his way to help others, although he did help me a lot. But Richard is focused on winning the competition. If he needs to concentrate only on his dish, he will. It's a competition. You're going to see the good and the bad in people.

I think Mike is a great guy and I love him. I hope Mike and Richard win the prize if they get to the finale, if not I hope it goes to Dale. But I cannot be accountable for other people's behavior. If Mike said that, he probably thinks about it. I think Angelo has a camel toe. Angelo wears his pants a little too tight for me.

You spoke well about Mike, Richard, Dale and Angelo. Don't you think as highly of Carla, Tiffany and Antonia?
No, I don't think about them in the same way for one reason and it's the same reason I didn't win. Mike, Richard, Dale and Angelo are the most well-rounded chefs in this competition. This is not "Top Passion" or "Top Heart." This is 'Top Chef.' I don't think that Carla, Tiffany or Antonia have the skills to be 100 percent knowledgeable about everything. The four guys have big knowledge and I think that will get them to the finale.

Don't get me wrong. I have great respect for Carla, Tiffany and Antonia, but they are like me. They are one-sided chefs. Carla does very homey, comfort food. Antonia does American food and sometimes French. Tiffany does soul food. I do Italian, that's my limitation. It is what it is.

What was different about the experience this time around?
This was the best of the best. The challenges were harder. The judges were meaner, except Gail who's always a sweetheart. Overall, it was much harder.

What was your favorite challenge?
My favorite was the dim sum. Chinese food made by Fabio. Welcome to the land of opportunity. Dim sum, Italian style. The restaurant wars wasn't much of a challenge because that's what I do for a living. I run restaurants.

What's it like to be such a popular member of 'Top Chef' family?
These people have done so much for me. Everything is good. I like them very much and it's good exposure. Guys, that's what everybody's looking for. They can tell you that they're there for the $200,000, and sure if you go to the finale and you don't win it'll be disappointing, but the reality is that what we are all looking for there as chefs is exposure. It's the number one reason why everybody does this.

I don't care when people b*tch about what's going on because they signed up for it. We work in the people business and we all need exposure. Bravo needs exposure, even Colicchio needs exposure. Why else do you think he does this? You think he likes to be in charge of a bunch of crazy pirates making food while showing their worst behavior? Everybody does it for the exposure. That's all it is. If it wasn't a good deal for Colicchio, he wouldn't be doing it.

Tell us about the book 'My Son Is on Google.'
I'm working with my mom, so I work around her schedule. What's happening is this; I'm trying to write it, but I did another book in the meantime called 'Did I Really Make Breakfast?' which has been for the past five weeks the number one bestseller on Amazon. And I'm writing another one called 'Fabio, the Food of Love', which is my spin on all the most tradition food worldwide.

You clashed with judge Anthony Bourdain. What do you really think of him?
I love Anthony Bourdain, and put the "LOVE" in all capital letters. I'm an admirer. Everybody loves him because he's a tough nut. I had to put him in his place. I talked to him after and he's a good guy. He's good people. He's one of the gurus in food worldwide.

Do I believe he can call himself a chef? I tell you this, Anthony Bourdain calling himself a chef is like me calling myself a teenager. I'm 33! That was about 20 years ago. That's reality.

Watch 'Top Chef All Stars' on Wednesday nights at 10PM on Bravo.

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Ohh Fabio is so sweet! I totally need to check out his books. I can't believe they sent him home instead of Dale! This season has been frustrating to say the least. But at least we haven't seen the last of our favorite Italian chef... http://foodiegossip.blogspot.com/2011/02/top-chefs-fabio-viviani-cooks-with-love

February 11 2011 at 10:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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