The Culinary Savvy of Chef Fabio Viviani


“Boom!” is a phrase by Chef Fabio Viviani that perfectly describes his impressive rise to culinary fame. Less than a decade ago, he immigrated to the US after selling everything he owned and barely speaking English.

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Chef Fabio Viviani. Photographed by Elizabeth Fraiberg

Since then, Viviani has been voted a Fan Favorite on BRAVO’s Top Chef, become an Instagram sensation and just opened his ninth restaurant in Miami. It’s easy to see that Viviani knows a little something about the word “Boom!” despite his humble beginnings.

“I didn’t grow up under anyone’s wings,” Viviani says about his childhood in Florence, Italy. “I worked at 11 with kids my own age. There’s no big influencer for me, but most people I’ve met, I’ve learned something from.”

He carried that work ethic and Italian approach to cooking to Top Chef. Ever since his cameo, he been known for his outgoing personality and widely popular Italian restaurants. But throughout that success, he aims to create an upscale simplicity to showcase comfort and quality.

“When you grow up in a simple town, you don’t have a lot of ingredients. Just keep it simple and casual yet refined, pretty but don’t complicate quality or taste.”

That uncomplicated style has led to several successful restaurants across the country, including Siena Tavern Miami, sister restaurant to the wildly successful Siena Tavern Chicago, which opened in Fall 2014. Viviani is coming back to Chicago to open the steakhouse Prime & Provisions in this spring, as Chicago is a home city for him where he feels a deep culinary connection.

“Chicago is exemplary in the food industry; it’s the new mecca for food. It’s a conscious city for food, but not pretentious.”

The support of the Windy City food community was further confirmed when Viviani opened two casual lunch destinations in the Loop of Chicago in the Spring of 2014. Mercato provides a fast and delicious meal to workday lunchers, and features an elevated fast casual menu with items like prosciutto and grilled pear pizza or his mom’s meatball sandwich.

Viviani explains that “everyone hates hotel and airport food…the quality goes down the drain.” But Mercato, he says, “has the same attention to detail as our other restaurants.” They’ll be opening concepts nationwide, including a Southern California location.

Mercato has the same quality; it’s inspired and has passion but is placed in a business crowd. This crowd works during the day so it’s a fast, casual and corporate scenario for them. We’re going to take over the nation…well, at least the corporate part!”

But he certainly seems to be taking over more than the corporate culinary scene. In addition to his varying restaurants, Viviani launched a wine line, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay with an emphasis on impeccable yet uncomplicated taste profiles.

Viviani also wrote Fabio’s American Home Kitchen, an e-magazine and Internet show. As a well-rounded Italian, Viviani is everywhere these days, and his success is certainly earned. “I’m blessed and fortunate. We’re going to keep expanding with the right people and mentality.”

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This article was written by Kaleigh Glaza

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