Team Chianti

Fabio Viviani: ‘I’m Trying to Be Everyone’s Grandma’

Don't crap on his Chianti.
Don’t crap on his Chianti.

After a few months off the grid to mourn his hero, his grandfather, spending time in Italy, and investigating life’s real meaning, Fabio is back and more Fab-ulous than ever. Still based in L.A. with Firenze Osteria and Café Firenze, Viviani is in New York, staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel, eating every meal at Maialino, massaging our thoughts on Chianti as a “stupid, cheap-ass pizza wine,” and explaining why Jamie Oliver has the wrong approach. But that’s only a sliver of Viviani’s life and thoughts.

You’ve been quiet … for you.
I lost my grandpa, spent some time just thinking about things. But I’m back. I’ve changed management and have even more going on than ever. I built my own kitchen studio; e-books; endorsement deals; my Twitter account, which everybody needs to follow. I’m teaming with Yahoo to do a web series. I’m bringing sexy back to cooking. I don’t like to say I’m a spokesperson for anything, though, because then it’s just like you’re getting paid to say shit you don’t mean.

And you mean everything you say?
I really do! You know, I turn down so many deals. There was a seven-figure deal with a soda company that I passed on because drinking soda is not my message. I don’t like it for kids.

Do you mean Colicchio’s Diet Coke deal?
I don’t want to say. And good for Tom. If he likes to drink soda, I’m happy for him. I’m really in town to talk about Chianti, specifically, Santa Margherita Chianti Classico Riserva. Americans think Chianti a cheap-ass shitty wine that you can only drink with pasta or pizza, but they need to realize it’s important; it can be delicious with steak, barbecue …

What happened to hosting your own TV show?
I chose not to do my own show because I am not for sale. And my private life is private. I just don’t need my family and girlfriend and everyone I love dealing with that right now. Who needs it? Plus, who the hell needs another show with an Italian teaching you to make bruschetta!

Are you done with the Top Chef brand too?
I don’t want to be a media whore. As for Top Chef, I think I’m done. You can’t keep going back on TV to get your ass kicked by Bravo. It was great, but I think I’m over building Bravo’s legacy for free; I’m building my own.

Do you think this is a good time for food TV?
Well, I think it’s really stupid to have chefs in Napa making dishes that can only be made if you live ten miles from them. And Jamie Oliver … I respect him, but you can’t go around telling people, “You have a big, fat ass and you’re going to die in ten years because of it.” You just can’t do that! Guy Fieri, he’s killing it, but I just wish he’d take it down a notch so all of America would give him a chance.

So basically, no one has the charm and talent you do …
No, I’m not saying that, I don’t think. I’m trying to be everyone’s grandma and do them good, not evil.

Fabio Viviani: ‘I’m Trying to Be Everyone’s Grandma’