Fabio Viviani the Chef who set his Grandma’s Kitchen on Fire

Re-posting this interview for the new blog followers.

This charismatic celebrity chef hates cilantro.

At seven years old, he set fire to his grandmother’s kitchen.

He explains why he reviewed his own cook book on Amazon. Bravo to  him, I say.

He gives us insight into reality television.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Fabio (Top Chef Contestant) on the phone. I wish I could have taped our conversation so you could all appreciate his wit, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, infectious laughter, and warm personality all wrapped up with a delightful accent.

Here is a transcript of our conversation, (excluding all the laughter we both shared) plus a delicious easy-to-follow risotto recipe.

Selena: Fabio, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to to talk to me today. If you hear clicking, it’s because I’m typing at the same time we are chatting.

FABIO: Thank you, Selena. If you hear barking, that’s my dog. Please excuse the other noise too. My friends are here as we are making a Christmas breakfast American style. Hash browns, sausages, eggs, truffles, quiche.

Selena: You were one of my favorites on Top Chef. You were funny, easy going and your food looked scrumptious. I was disappointed when you left as I’m sure a lot of your fans were. It was a hamburger that sent you and your knives packing, have you made another hamburger since?

FABIO: Sure. I don’t know what those judges were talking about, my burger was delicious. Since that infamous hamburger episode, I have created another recipe to make the perfect Hamburger, not like the one i did on Top Chef. 

(The link to the hamburger recipe is at the end of the interview.)

Selena: Do the chefs have a feeling that they will have to face the judge’s table with the possibility of being told “pack your knives and go?”

FABIO: They don’t really know. We know if our dish is good or not. The quick fire and the elimination contest on Top Chef, well, you know, it’s not what I do for a living, I didn’t freak out during the show. Now, if I had to do Dancing With the Stars, then I would freak out.

Selena: How does it feel to stand in front of the esteemed judges as they either praise or tear down your culinary creation?

FABIO: I take critique as an opinion, I don’t take it personal. If someone comes into my restaurant and says they don’t like this dish, they want it made a different way, well, I just tell them; that’s how we make this dish. It’s their opinion and they are all entitled, but I’m not going to change how a dish is made. Hey, I say, how about you don’t order it and get something else instead.

Selena: (As I said, above, it’s really too bad this wasn’t tape recorded, because in saying this, he did not have any hint of arrogance, it was all tongue in cheek and said in a warm manner. I would bet, the customers love him even when he tells them he’s not about to change anything on his menu.)

Selena: I’m Italian as well, however there are two things that are common to Italians that I absolutely do not like. One is oregano and the other is coffee. Do you have any  food that you dislike?

FABIO: Not sure if you’re Italian, Selena. Cilantro. I hate Cilantro. I hate it so much that I would like to hang the person who invented it. If you don’t add enough or put one extra leaf of Cilantro it ruins your whole dish. I’m not a big fan of Peanut Butter. Otherwise, I eat pretty much eat anything.

Selena: What advice would you give someone who is going to be on a reality show?

FABIO: First piece of advice: Please, don’t cry on national television. No, don’t do it. Ever.

Keep your mouth shut and don’t say what you’re thinking out loud all the time.  My filter is medium to large mesh—not a good idea sometimes. Okay, most times. Good thing they edited a lot of our disagreements, because what you saw was only a small clip of what really goes on when we disagree with a judge or a guest judge.

Being on Top Chef was a great experience. A lot of positive came out of meeting everyone on the show, networking with different people and making new friends.

Selena: Do all the contestants get along?

FABIO: Yes. They’re all good people, good chefs. We don’t hang out as we are all very busy but when they come to town we get together.

Selena: When did your love affair with cooking start?

FABIO:  When I was seven years old, I set my grandma’s kitchen on fire by mistake. She said she better teach me to handle fire on the stove before I burn the whole town down. My grandmother taught me how to have a passion for food, cooking with simple ingredients.

Selena: As you know, I’m a romance author, sexy hero’s are part of the romance genre. What do you think about a hero who is a chef? Are chefs sexy?

FABIO: Well, I think I’m beautiful. My Mamma thinks I’m the best chef and the most gorgeous. But this is a tricky question. Let’s see, chefs sexy? They are passionate and that could  be sexy. They make delicious food and that’s sexy. 

Selena: Speaking of your Mamma, what does your family in Italy think of you being on Top Chef?

FABIO: They didn’t really understand the concept of the show. The show doesn’t air in Italy so they didn’t see it. When they visited me here I had taped some episodes and showed them. They were proud of me, you know, money, glory and as long as I’m happy in what I’m doing then they’re happy.

Selena: I got a smile at your Amazon page, where you give yourself a five star review. Good for you. Most fiction writers hesitate to even go to Amazon and look at reviews let alone give ourselves a pat on the back, which I think is admirable.

FABIO:  Well did you not think my book deserved 5 stars? 

Selena: Absolutely, I love your cook books. I share a lot of recipes on this blog so I know first hand how hard and challenging it is to write down the correct ingredients and instructions so that readers will find them easy to follow.

FABIO: Thank you for the compliment. See,  that’s why I gave myself 5 stars. Don’t worry about what people put on Amazon, it’s an opinion and every one has one and you can’t please them all anyway. 

Selena: Totally agree with you. No matter what you write in a book, it’s so subjective that it’s virtually impossible to please every single reader – or cook in your case.

So much fun talking to you, Fabio, I wish we had more time, and it’s too bad I don’t have the technology to have this conversation on audio for my readers, I think they would have enjoyed your wit and especially your infectious laugh.



4 oz of fresh or frozen cranberries

2 tbsp of butter

4oz of diced pancetta

half onion diced till caramelized

2 handfuls of rice

4 cups of stock

1 tbsp of cranberry sauce

salt and pepper

shaved parmesan


Cook 4oz of fresh or frozen cranberry in 2 tbsp of butter with 4oz of diced pancetta and half onion diced till caramelized, sauté 2 handfuls of rice in it and add little by little about 4 cups of stock, add also 1 tbsp of cranberry sauce towards the end and a pinch of salt and pepper, top with shaved parmesan. Enjoy!

Links to Fabio’s videos, website, books, cooking classes:



DON’T WINE TV WITH FABIO, Fun, Entertaining & Educational



YOUTUBE VIDEOS – Entertainment at its best!


36 responses to “Fabio Viviani the Chef who set his Grandma’s Kitchen on Fire”

  1. Thanks for hosting and thanks Fabio for the cookbooks.


    1. Hi, Katy, thanks for stopping by.


  2. savannah miller Avatar
    savannah miller

    Thank you for this! I loved watching Fabio on top chef him and Stefan were my favorite that season. My husband use to get mad because I had a crush on Fabio and had to watch every episode! Loved the interview you asked amazing questions. 🙂



    1. Hi, Savannah, glad you enjoyed the interview. It was so much fun to talk to him. I think a lot of us Top Chef fans had a crush on Fabio. LOL He’s even more charming off the show.

      Thanks for stopping by, we appreciate your support.


  3. Thanks for the interview-it was a delight on a cold winter morning. And how generous of Fabio to give us his ecookbooks


    1. Hi, Nancy, thanks for stopping by. His video’s are real good too, easy to follow and you can see the results. Cold weather brings the chef out in all of us.


  4. Loved the interview! Thanks to Fabio for the ecookbooks. A chef who doesn’t like cilantro. Interesting.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Claudia. Glad you enjoyed the interview and I’m sure you’ll love the cookbooks. I have to concur with Fabio on cilantro as well, I’m not a big fan of this herb. I really detest oregano though. LOL I leave oregano out of all of my Italian dishes and they still taste delicious.


  5. Thanks for the free cookbooks. I’m with Fabio on cilantro, blech. Did he give you any helpful hints for your holiday meals?



    1. Hi, Anne,

      Thanks for stopping by. Main thing he emphasized was to have fun in the kitchen (which I do) and cook with lots of love and passion (something I also learned from my mom.

      Check out his videos and cook books, there are a ton of tips on holiday meals and family meals.

      We may be starting an anti-cilantro club. LOL


  6. I love cookbooks! My husband thinks I’m crazy because I hardly ever cook out of them. But I want them all! lol
    I don’t care for cilantro either. It’s very strong.


    1. Hi, Jodi, I collect cook books as well, but only use them as a guide, as I was taught to cook without a recipe, but they are good to get ideas from. I like the looks of them too. I think us book lovers just love books of any kind.

      We seem to have a number of people who dislike cilantro.

      Thanks for stopping by and enjoy adding these cook books to your collection.


  7. I’m glad that I am not the only one who hates cilantro!


    1. Hi, Christiana, thanks for dropping by. Looks like we may have to start an ANTI-Cilantro group of some kind. LOL


  8. I enjoyed the interview! Thanks for the great ecookbooks, I’m looking forward to trying the recipes! cheryllynne(at)rocketmail(dot)com


    1. Hi, Cheryl, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy cooking with Fabio’s recipes.




    1. Hi, Linda, good luck on your road to healthier eating. 🙂


  10. We get some of the shows down here in NZ but I don’t think I’ve seen the American version of this show. I enjoyed the interview. I definitely enjoy foodies books and if there is romance and passion included that’s even better 🙂


    1. Hi, Shelley, thanks for stopping by.

      Passion and food in my opinion always go together. You may be able to see the American Top Chef versions online?

      I think writing and food loving seem to go hand in hand. 🙂


  11. Fantastic interview Selena! As you know, I’m not much of a cook. But I love to read about people who are. :


    1. Thanks for dropping by, Denise. You can cook up a great sexy novel though. 🙂


  12. I enjoy Fabio and his joy in cooking and making people enjoy food is wonderful! He has a great sense of humor and is a great ambassador for Italian food. Thanks for having him here.

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com


    1. Hi, Joder, thanks for stopping by. Ambassador for Italian Food, great way to put it. He does have a wonderful sense of humor and doesn’t take himself seriously, which is something I enjoy in anybody’s personality.


  13. Thanks – can’t wait to try one of the recipes!


  14. Thanks for the recipes, will be trying some this weekend.


  15. What a wonderful interview. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve placed it on my wall so more can see the great information you shared.


    1. Glad you enjoyed, Michael. Thanks for spreading the word, on behalf of Fabio and myself, we appreciate the support.


  16. Thank you for the cookbook. I love food so this is great.
    Great interview. You do good.


    1. Thanks, Sharon, so kind of you to say. Enjoy the cook book.


  17. Thanks, Selena, for the great interview !

    Thanks, Fabio, for the lovely recipes! Don’t laugh, but one of my favorite pastimes is reading cookbooks! I know I will enjoy
    reading your cookbooks and trying out the recipes.

    Pat Cochran


    1. Hi, Pat, thanks for stopping by. I’d never laugh at anybody who reads cook books, I do it myself all the time, only I never follow the recipe, I just like to get ideas from it and then improvise. LOL You know us writers, we love to hear when people just love books of any variety.

      Enjoy the cook books.


  18. I was chatting on the Sweet and Sexy Diva blog about recipes, cooking and food and one of the blog followers posted an interesting link.

    Here is what Fiona McGier said…

    I don’t have cable so no food shows for me. But my favorite find is Penzey’s spices. There is a store close to me, but if you get on their mailing list, they send a catalogue regularly with excellent recipes submitted by readers, and using their fresh and excellent spices. I’ve learned how to make curries with vindaloo(never heard of it before!), Mexican-style shredded beef (yum!) and soups with epazote (I had never heard of that either!) In the store you can sniff all of the spices, to see which you might want to try. I don’t put hot peppers on my pizza since I discovered dried jalapenos!



  19. nancyelizabethlauzon Avatar

    Love this! Fabio is easy on the eyes, isn’t he?


    1. Yes he is, Nancy. The accent makes it even better. LOL I’m thinking an Italian chef hero is my future works. 😉




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