Mention the name Fabio Viviani to any "Top Chef" fan, and you'll elicit a great big grin. It wasn't the least bit surprising when the gregarious Italian-born chef was voted fan favorite during Season 5. Since then, Viviani has appeared on two "Top Chef" spin-offs, opened a third restaurant (Siena Tavern in Chicago), hosted his own crazy-popular show, "Chow Ciao!" with Yahoo! and written several cookbooks.
Fabio's new book is part cookbook, part irrepressible memoir, filled with tales of Viviani's childhood, his family and the many scrapes he got into before his family encouraged the youngster to channel all that energy into cooking, instead of playing with matches and gunpowder near his grandmother's wheelchair. (His nonna was fine. The chair, not so much.)
It's a fun read, with mouth-watering photographs, witty asides and easy-to-follow recipes for everything from shrimp-pancetta risotto to an apple cake with grappa that serves, Viviani says, "Me and my grandpa or six normal people." Here's just a taste:
Cherry Tomato Salad With Orange, Cucumber and Feta
Serves 4 as a side
3 oranges, peeled and cut into segments with the membranes removed
20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cucumber, diced
1 cup feta, crumbled
30 basil leaves
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Place the oranges, tomatoes, cucumber and feta in a bowl, and mix well. Add basil, oil and salt; mix again and serve.
(Recipe from "Fabio's Italian Kitchen," © 2013, VF Legacy, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)
Below, Fabio pays a visit to ABC's "Good Morning America" in support of his new book: