Top Chef's Fabio: Making Mama, Capt. Kirk Proud

The latest knifed cheftestant talks about making his mom happy and becoming best friends with a TV icon

By Marc Malkin Feb 20, 2009 12:00 AMTags
Top Chef, FabioBravo Photo: Michael Lavine

Fabio Viviani may well be on his way to becoming a household name here in the states after his stint on this season of Top Chef, but his mother back in his native Italy doesn't exactly realize what's going on.

"In Italy, if you go on TV, it's because either you robbed a bank or you killed somebody," says Fabio, who was sent home last night in part one of the New Orleans finale. "You don't go on TV because you're a chef."

But things are slowly starting to sink in. "Someone told her I was on Google, and she was so happy," he says with a laugh. "She said, 'I am so proud of you. You are on Google.' She's telling everybody that I am on Google. I let her be."

I have more from this season's most charming cheftestant. Read on to find out about his viewing party last night, the hardest part about the competition and the Hollywood celebrity he calls one of his best friends…

I'm very sad you were the one to go last night.
I think last night was the saddest moment in reality TV for the United States. [Laughs.] You know, Marc, I had a blast. I had a viewing partying at [Tom Colicchio's] Craftsteak in New York. Everybody was crying and the tears. I was laughing my ass off. I'm happy to make it that far. The fact that I didn't go home with the title of Top Chef is not going to break the camel's back.

What was the hardest part about doing the show?
The waiting. There is a lot of waiting between challenges. Judges sometimes table six, seven hours for them to realize the winner. You're waiting, and you're sitting on your ass with a cask of beer…I drink three beer, I got to go pee. I got to ask you permission to do it, that's brutal.

On last night's show, you said one of the reasons you wanted to win was for the $100,000 to help your mother because she is very sick. How is she doing now?
That part about my mom has been a little bit misunderstood. She is sick with health problems, but she is not dying like from cancer or other things like that. She has a problem in her blood, and it brings a deformation on the bones of her wrists. Her hands is almost paralyzed. Every six months, a year, she has to have surgery to be able to move a little bit. After 12 surgeries, she can't work anymore.

Is Stefan as cocky as he appears to be on the show?
He has a big ego. He's confident, and when you're confident and not that personable, it comes off cocky. I am very friendly with people. I like to talk to people. Stefan gets annoyed really fast…He's 37, and he's been cooking since he was 12. He sounds cocky, but he's a great person to be with.

Are you really William Shatner's private chef?
Yes. I am his private chef, and he's also one of my best friends. He's actually one of the few friends I have in the United States. I met him in my restaurant [Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Lounge, outside of L.A.] He came in for lunch. He rides horses behind my restaurant…He actually wrote the forward for my book that is coming out, and he just did his biography, and he gave me two pages in his biography stating that I have one of the best Italian restaurants in the U.S.