Fabio Viviani is a passionate guy—he is Italian, after all. The Top Chef Season 5 cheftestant and Fan Favorite won over viewers with his hilarious one-liners ("This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop!"), boundless energy (he has more than 10 restaurants, his own brand of wine, and a lobster delivery company), and considerable charm.
So when it comes to food, he's got some pretty strong opinions about it. We spoke with the always-on-the-go chef about the food he refuses to touch, why he isn't a fan of peanuts (hint: monkeys are involved), and his most epic kitchen fail.
The Feast: Are there any foods you hate or refuse to eat?
Fabio Viviani: I hate cilantro in any form or shape. I refuse to touch a meal that contains cilantro; I'd rather starve myself than eat cilantro.
I'm not a fan of peanuts. I don't hate them—different from cilantro, which I hate, it's a hate feeling—I'm not a fan of peanuts and I'm not a fan of anything with gelatin in it…that is mushy and wobbly, like a Jell-O shot? I hate that.
The Feast: What don't you like about peanuts?
FV: I don't know, I used to have a zoo by my house in Florence and I used to feed peanuts to the monkeys. And I remember the monkeys climbing all over me—cute. And they used to come really close to my face and their breath smells like peanuts, so now every time I smell peanuts it reminds me of a monkey right in my face. So I don't know, I just don't love peanuts. I don't hate on them, I just don't love them.
The Feast: That's a really good reason. Do you have any guilty pleasure foods?
FV: Yes, chocolate. I love Nutella. I'm a big sucker for Nutella. Actually, I think I've been giving them free endorsements for the last 10 years because that's all I talk about and they didn't pay me a dime for it. So it's stupid on my end. I don't have an endorsement with Nutella but I still keep talking about it in every interview I do because I love it so much.
The Feast: Maybe you should reach out to them.
FV: Yeah, I tried. I don't think they're interested.
The Feast: Do you have any embarrassing food habits?
FV: I have salami sticks in my pocket most of my days. Literally, I have a handful, usually, of a hard, dry salami in my pocket and sometimes I don't finish it, I go home, I'm tired, I put my jacket away. A month later I just go get the jacket, I put my hand in my pocket and there's a f***ing piece of salami in it. So most people that conversate with me throughout the day, they will never know that I have a dried salami in my pants. [laughs]
The Feast: Is it like a Slim Jim or...?
FV: Oh no! F***ing Slim Jim, what am I, American? No! It's not a Slim Jim, it's like a real Italian salami, like little dry salami pieces in my pants and jacket.
The Feast: What's been your biggest kitchen disaster?
FV: I was 23 years old, I was very cocky, I was running a very successful catering business among other things, and we literally dropped on the floor a six-and-a-half-foot wedding cake, literally minutes before the wedding cake ceremony, the cake-cutting ceremony. Literally minutes before. The husband was a good sport about it, the wife chased one of my line cooks with a power tool. I think it was a drill. She was not happy.
The Feast: What would you eat for you last meal on earth?
FV: I would eat a lobster, I would drink a red bottle of wine, I mean, f*** it, two, it's the last meal, three bottles of wine, who cares. And then I would have two roasted chickens and some roasted potatoes.
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