Photo: David Giesbrecht / Bravo
Here's this week's installment of Slashfood's exclusive exit interviews with the latest "Top Chef All-Stars" contestant to get the boot. In an effort to prevent spoilers, we've included the text after the jump.
There are things we've all come to love and adore about the "Top Chef" franchise. The way Padma despairingly says, "Pack your knives." The abundant lack of dessert knowledge. And, of course, this week's exiled cheftestant, Fabio Viviani. In this week's elimination challenge, Fabio was asked to make a hamburger for Jimmy Fallon, but Tom Colicchio couldn't get past the burger's meatloaf-like texture and the accompanying curdled-cheese sauce.
It took a few days to track Fabio down, but we were finally able to catch up with the popular cheftestant to talk burgers and his ideal role in a perfect Fabio world.
I think I speak for all of us when I say we were sad to see you go.
Fabio Viviani: You know, the sad part of it is, I'm not a sore loser. I'm pissed off about the French mussels winning over my chicken, but that's another story, another interview. The thing is, you ask me to do a hamburger, a classic one. Did I make a classic burger? No; I did my spin on it, and I went home because my food was good but wasn't a classic one.[There was] an oversalted cheesesteak and a tortilla soup instead of chicken and dumplings -- I think [the judges] were wrong, but I respect it. I'm gone, so there's nothing I can do about it now. The only thing I did, I put the burgers on my menu.
Do you even like hamburgers?
FV: Me, I love them. I love In-N-Out and I have a lifetime card with Johnny Rockets. I think those are the two best hamburgers in the United States.
Being on the East Coast, I just dream about In-N-Out.
FV: That's what I'm saying. You're from Aol, you guys have power. We should talk to In-N-Out and I'll walk away from the Italian restaurant business, and I'll open [one] on the East Coast. Guys, I love In-N-Out. Double double, animal style, you can't beat that.
Did you use ground beef in your hamburger?
FV: Of course I put ground beef in it! A burger's a burger. I just added brisket, chuck and short ribs, grounded. And I added a little mozzarella for flavor. I didn't want a freaking beef patty in between two hamburger buns. It's freaking "Top Chef," it's not Top...I mean, c'mon, really? People win the show with awesome ground beef, plain, that's it? Freaking steamed mussels and beef patties, if that Colicchio wants, I guess we're going to give it to him. He said it was like a meat loaf. I dare you to come to my restaurant and see if it tastes dry or anything they said. It was good, brother, it was good. But I respect their opinion; I can't argue with it, can I?
At least you didn't go out cooking an Italian dish.
FV: It was exactly the way I wanted to go. If I had to choose my ending, Jimmy Fallon, I love him -- I almost had a man crush on him. He's a good husband for his wife and he answers to the tweet. He cares a lot and that's what I do. We do care and people feel that. If I had to pick somebody to go out on, it would be him, and what happened. It was perfect. An Italian chef going home on an American staple.
Since the first time you were on "Top Chef," have you remained pretty active in the kitchen or doing more events?
FV: No, I'm very active. I still cook about four or five days a week. Seven days, if my week doesn't have a travel schedule. But I also work with big companies to develop recipes. I'm very health oriented, so I have a lot of projects to improve the culinary world, and improve the home cooker. I cook for everybody. I don't cook for big reviewer, I cook for the thousand people that come to my restaurant. I'm planning to be "mom" for everybody. Think about it. I'll be your mom. I want people to be comfortable with me.
That could be your tagline. Fabio: I'm Your Next Mom.
FV: [laughs]. "I'm planning on being your next Mom." I love it, man. But I do take care of people, like your mom would. It's true! It's unbelievable!
A few years ago, weren't you supposed to have your own TV series?
FV: Yeah, and you have to talk to the guys. I can shoot as many pilots as I can and if they don't pick it up, what can you do? On the other hand, I don't want to do a crappy show. I don't need to be on TV. I don't really care about being on TV. With me, you're going to see a lot of fun, a lot of honesty. They think I still have a problem speaking English...well, guess what, I do. Subtitle. Who cares. i'm not planning on being a TV personality. I care about running restaurants and TV can help if you use it right. So far, we haven't found an agreement, but we'll find something. Don't worry.
Is the level of competition on the "All-Stars" noticably harder this time?
FV: It is harder, for sure. It's not harder in the level. One thing everyone seem to forget: We're not comparing apple to apple.
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