Fabio, Top Chef
Top Chef fans across the nation were crushed Wednesday night when cheftestant Fabio Viviani had to pack up his knives and say arrivederci after his Creole cuisine couldn't win over the judges. The Italian funnyman (with adorable broken English) opened up to TVGuide.com about Stefan's misunderstood persona, his mom's struggle and his fancy Mohawk.
TVGuide.com: How did you handle the judge's decision?
Fabio Viviani: I respect them. Would I agree with them? No. Because of course, for me, that be the winning dish. But what happen is I got a lot of compliments. Emeril say that was one of the best Maque Choux he'd ever had. I think the decision came to Stefan over me because I did an Italian dish and New Orleans dish, and Stefan did both New Orleans. But it's fine. I'm very happy to made it that far. So, I have no regrets. That was not the last you're gonna see me.
TVGuide.com: Did you taste your cocktail that the judges were hatin' on?
Fabio: Yes I did, and the drink was absolutely perfect. Again it's a taste. I do like sweet. But it was not that sweet. I had probably half pound sugar in six, seven gallon of drink. We sell hundreds of those every week at the restaurant. If people like straightforward gin like Colicchio does, or if you like dirty martini, you're not gonna like that cocktail. The things that I should have know better is that no judges are ever happy with extreme flavor — too sweet, too bitter, too salty, too acidic. So that was one misstep.
TVGuide.com: Coming from Italy, had you experienced Creole food?
Fabio: You know what? Pig, pork sausage — it's the same everywhere. It doesn't matter if it has a German flag or Italian flag or American flag. No, I never do Creole cuisine, but the Maque Choux I did was one of the strongest dish of the night. You're a chef and you should know in your head how to match ingredients and flavors.
TVGuide.com: What did you think of Stefan's cocky attitude?
Fabio: I don't call it cockiness, I call it confidence. But I agree, that's what he sounds like. He's a very nice guy, very confident and sometime you can misunderstand that for cockiness. He is what he look like, but it's not that bad as it sound. He's a lovable person. I always hang out with him, he's at my restaurant all the time and we are very good friends. Is he less personable than me? Yes. Is that bad? No, not at all.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of personality, you definitely showed a lot. Did any of your one-liners crack you up after watching yourself on television?
Fabio: For me, to see myself on TV is not funny. I know I have this personality, because that's who I am. When you know a really funny joke and you say it in a room when nobody's there, at the end, you're not laughing. What makes me laugh is the reaction of the people when I say things. I did have people choking in the restaurant when we had the TV on. [Laughs] One time I did laugh at myself was in the last episode when I broke my finger and I said I'd chop it off, sear it to stop it to bleed and deal with it later. I said to myself "You, f---in' nuts, why you say that?"
TVGuide.com: What did your friends and family think of you on television?
Fabio: Besides my wife and a few friends, everybody I know is in Italy, so they don't really know what's going on. In Italy, when you go on TV, you either kill somebody or robbed a bank — it's not as big as it is in the U.S. I remember this funny thing last month where my mom called and crying, saying "Oh my god, I'm so proud of you." I say, "Mom what happened?" She say, "I got this letter from a friend. She saw you, and say you are on Google!" [Laughs] "I say, Ma I love you so much but I'm not on Google. Google is the search engine, and I am in another website." And my mom is like "Shat ap! You are! It's right in front of me." Now what she's doing, she's printing from Google homepage this little a-- pictures of me. But what you want me to do, fight with that? She's happy, so I let her be.
TVGuide.com: You said you wanted to win to help your mom because she's sick. How is she doing?
Fabio: She's not dying, but she has a problem that cannot be cured. There is something with her blood that is not working properly. She has lots of problems with arms and hands. She is going through surgery every six month in order to keep moving her hand. The last couple surgeries didn't go really good, so she's almost paralyzed and can't work. She's very young, she's 47 and she's the reason why I'm alive so I have to support her. I want to. Family and friends are the biggest things. If your family and friends are good, you're fine.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any plans to do more as a chef?
Fabio: I have Cafe Firenze cookbook is coming out in April and it's very funny. I had one editor laughing their a-- off! I have another big nonprofit project, which is my website, www.kidshealthcafe.com, to raise awareness to change box lunches and teach people how to eat healthy. And I'm opening a new restaurant in downtown Ventura (Calif.) this summer, and we are searching for location in Vegas and New York.
TVGuide.com: And lastly, just because we have to know, why the Mohawk?
Fabio: I'm a chef. I'm extravagant and it's something I wanted to do. I didn't like anymore the haircut that I have, so I went little bit more extreme. Last year this time, I was blonde completely. For the first day of summer every year, I go blonde for one month. I like to change my haircut. It doesn't bother me no one in America really likes Mohawk. It's more for rock star and stuff like that. But I'm a chef so I'm a little bit rock star.