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The Daily Dish Food and Drinks

Chef Fabio Viviani Spills His Secrets to Avoiding a Valentine's Day Disaster

Try not to skip straight to the end and read number 8. Because that's the tip you might want to remember.

By Rachel Johnson

Stumped about how to create a perfect night for your Valentine's Day date? We asked Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani to give us his V-Day do’s and don’ts, since he's no stranger to keeping it steamy in the kitchen (can we talk about that accent?). From prix-fixe disasters to eating "sensually with your hands," the sexy chef talks food disasters to avoid and how to listen to your Valentine’s needs so you can pull off a night you'll want to remember—as opposed to, say, banish from your mind forever.

1. Keep the Food Simple

“It’s not about the food; it is about the two people enjoying the food. Make it simple. I like fresh pasta or ravioli with a good bottle of wine, some exotic fruit for dessert.. and chocolate. Definitely chocolate.”

2. Listen to Your Valentine


“Valentine’s Day is not about you; it's about the other person. Ask a lot of questions and see what they like and want to eat. It is not about your ego, and don’t try to show off your culinary skills.”

3. Don’t Order Without Asking

“I once saw a couple who haven’t dated for very long; I’m assuming they’d been together only a week or two. The guy orders an eight-course tasting menu, and he forgot to ask her what she likes. It turns out that she is vegan and she couldn’t eat anything on the menu! [My Valentine disaster] is similar to the disaster story seen at my restaurant. It was one of my past relationships and I wanted to cook her a very special 10-course meal. I didn’t know at the time that she was vegetarian and all she ate was the soup, salad and dessert. Hence, it’s probably the reason why she is an ex!”

4. Eat With Your Hands


“Romantic food is anything you can eat with your fingers. Think about this if you are home with your significant other: There is nothing more sensual than eating finger foods because you two can feed each other.

5. Cuddle on the Couch


“You can have dinner in on the couch while you two are hanging out. But you can’t have pasta or risotto on the couch because it gets messy. Make easy finger food, grab a bottle of wine with two glasses and cuddle up.”

6. Less Mess, Less Stress


“I was at my restaurant, Bar Siena in Chicago, and I saw a couple on a date. They both seemed a little tense and I got first-date vibes from them. Let me tell you.. I love watching first dates because they’re so awkward, and this one was no different! They ordered the Balsamic Ribs, which is an excellent dish, but not exactly a first-date kind of food. Of course the lady wore a beautiful dress but ends up dropping the ribs on her dress and making a big mess. She made a big scene at the restaurant; she was NOT happy, and I’m pretty sure the guy did not get laid. The moral of the story is NEVER eat messy food on a first date.”

7. Pop The Pressure with More Bubbly

“Alcohol does help on a night like Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s a young couple or an old couple who’ve been together for many years, alcohol such as a good bottle of wine is like a social lubricant and helps breakdown the awkwardness and pressure of Valentine’s Day.”

8. Plan a Sexy Surprise


“Don’t wear underwear! And if you’re a woman, tell your man halfway through the dinner that you’re not wearing any. If you’re having dinner at home, have dinner with no pants. You’re going to sit there and laugh throughout the dinner—and it’ll be a great laugh!”

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