These days, on top of his ever-growing roles in the culinary worlds, Fabio Viviani is also a doting dad. Not that the Season 5 Top Chef cheftestant had retreated much from the hearts of viewers since first being introduced back in 2008, before later appearing on Top Chef: All Stars and Life After Top Chef. And his latest role had fans equally exicted after he shared the news earlier this month. Now the Italian native and Chicago resident has one person who he has fallen for: his son, Gage, born in September.
"I'm a new old dad," he joked to The Daily Dish. "It's like throwing a pool party in a bathtub — it's very tight, it's tiring, and it's an adjustment because it's not something that I've done before. So, a lot of trial and error, but everything looks good so far." And baby Gage already seems to be taking after his father. "He's awesome, as gorgeous as me," he said, before noting that a chef's hours and baby's feeding schedule are equally demanding, and don't always sync up. "It's just really hard because every two hours he's got to eat, and the fact that you're a chef, it doesn't really help because all they want is boobs," he explained. "So that's one thing that I can't give." Still, it's clear Fabio is over the moon about his new role. "Fatherhood's awesome," he said. "It's the best thing that's ever happened to me."
And that says a lot, considering all that's on the horizon for Fabio as he continues to expand his thriving brand. "We have nine restaurants opened, two more opening by the end of the year, [and] three more next year. [I'm] working on cookbook and working on a business book. We have beautiful winery in California we just bought a year-and-a-half ago and now we're producing our wine," he said, rattling off his current projects. "We just launched the Fabio Viviani Wine Collection nationwide [with] delicious wine [that's] widely successful. Everything's good. I mean, life is good; couldn't be better. "
His next cookbook will delve even deeper into his cooking philosophy. "The last two, one was my heritage. One was my story, my family, my history. [Fabio's Italian Kitchen] was everything I grew up with and the story that comes with it," he said of the 2013 release. "The one after was an homage to my 10-year anniversary in the United State. [2014's Fabio's American Home Kitchen] is everything I love about American food with my twist. The next one will be pretty much me breaking down a ton of recipes that can be done in anywhere between five and 20 minutes. The reality is that America loves to cook, but America doesn't like to be in the kitchen; there is no time to do anything... [So I want to make] delicious foods that don't take hours in the kitchen."
These days, when he's not working on his myriad of projects or juggling diaper duty, he's settled into life in the Windy City, where he resides with his baby boy and wife Ashley. He also operates six restaurants there, including Bar Siena which he opened back in July. "My wife is from Chicago. Five years ago when we met, I said, 'Can't live without it,' so I found a way to have a very healthy business in Chicago so I can be with the person I love and do business as well when I'm here."
And Chicago loves him right back. He recently landed on Michigan Avenue Magazine's "9 Famous Chicago Men With Impeccable Street Style" list. "I mean, seriously? Hello? Finally, right? Where were they looking, for real?" he joked. "I think it's funny 'cause I really don't care about the way I dress much. My wife, she's into fashion. She's into everything about fashion. I'm not. I don't care. I can wear red socks with green pants for what I care, but I think being Italian gives me a little edge over some people in America. Some, not everybody."
While it's been some time since he graced an episode of Top Chef, he's still a part of the show's network of chefs. "I keep in touch with people like Richard Blais, Mike Isabella; we talk often," he said, sharing that he looks back fondly on his experience on the show.
"Regardless of the outcome, it was great. It's a good experience overall," he said. "The more people see you, the better the business is. You got to look good and I hope I managed that well. But it's a phenomenal experience, a lot of great connections, [and] good insight from very knowledgeable people. So I would do that 10 times over."
We think you looked great, Fabio. Check out some proof, below.
Updated November 5, 2015 Fabio's son's cuteness knows no bounds. Check out his latest pic!