“Hello…This is Fabio…Yes, we’re in Chicago today but we gotta go to New York to film this show and then I gotta come back because if I’m not back for Mother’s Day, my wife’s a-gonna kill me.”
In the very first breath of our phone call, Chef Fabio Viviani’s energetic personality comes bubbling through. Talk about a man always on the go, the Top Chef alum’s daily schedule is one to be marveled…
- 5:00am-7:30am Wake up, work out, get some office work done
- 7:30am Hustle back to bed to wake up the wife and kids and have breakfast together
- 9:00am-7:30pm Oversee his many restaurants, drink espresso, attend meetings, drink espresso, attend to press commitments, drink espresso, concept new recipes, (have I mentioned?) drink espresso (“After lunch, I need a double hit…two espressos!”)
- 7:30pm “I promised my wife that when I am in Chicago I will always be home to tuck my kids in for bed”
- 8pm-10:30pm Quality “mommy daddy” time watching movies, talking, and enjoying a glass or two of wine
- 10:30pm Back to the office (!!!) to prep for the next day
Chef Viviani, who owns and operates multiple restaurants in Chicago alone along with managing TV appearances, runs on life-energy and espresso. “I love my life!” Viviani exclaims. “Why would I want to spend so much time sleeping!”
Between the lack of sleep and the heavy espresso consumption, Viviani is defying what we adults have termed as healthy living. “Once you train your body to burn fat, it’s better.” Viviani reveals that he follows the philosophy of the ketogenic diet. “I don’t eat tons of sugar. I take my coffee black. I eat carbs but the fats I consume—whether olive oil or avocado—are higher than other things I am eating.” Like any good Italian man, he does indulge in his pastas and breads.
While there’s no doubt that Chef Viviani hails from Italy with his Italian charm and thick accent, he’s the first to step up and say he’s the “worst Italian when it comes to life approach. I don’t take two-hour lunches and three-hour dinners. I work like a mule which is not very Italian. But! I do drink 10 espressos a day.”
His love for coffee, and especially espressos, harkens back to his childhood.
“Growing up in Italy, Lavazza became part of my family and it remains an important aspect of my personal and professional life today,” explains Viviani.
Chef Viviani has proudly partnered with Lavazza to create products based on a study they conducted in Chicago which revealed that most Chicagoans have adventurous palates and enjoy seeing coffee incorporated into their culinary experiences. Always one to rise to the challenge, Viviani has created two specials that are available for the rest of the month at Siena Tavern.
The first is a brioche bread pudding, made with a chocolate sauce and Lavazza espresso gelato. This pudding happens to be Chef Viviani’s wife’s favorite—something he’ll be serving her this Mother’s Day along with a homemade breakfast of scrambled eggs with American cheese and crispy bacon (take notes, people).
The second special is an Old Fashioned made with a shot of Viviani’s favorite…a Lavazza espresso.
If you’re a fan of Lavazza, Viviani, or both, catch them at Navy Pier on Saturday, May 19, from 10am-5pm. Lavazza will be handing out samples of Lavazza’s Cold Brew coffee and Fabio will help serve consumers for a few hours, as well.
Chef Viviani generously provided his recipe to the Lavazza Bread Pudding. See below and enjoy!
Lavazza Bread Pudding
Makes 8 servings
|Siena Tavern Monkey Bread
(or Croissants or Brioche)
|Lavazza coffee grounds||2 ounces|
|Heavy Cream||2 Cups|
|Whole Milk||1 Cup|
|Whole Eggs||5 each|
|Cinnamon Sugar||As needed|
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Cut bread into approximate ½” squares. Spread out on a parchment lined sheet pan and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Toast in oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden brown. Place on cooling rack.
- In a small saucepan, scald the milk and add Lavazza coffee grounds off heat. Cover and steep 15 minutes.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together heavy cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Strain the milk and coffee thru a fine mesh strainer and add to the mixing bowl. Whisk well and strain.
- Place toasted bread in a deep 9”x9” parchment lined baking pan.
- Pour Lavazza bread pudding mix over the bread and rest for 10 minutes to soak the bread.
- Bake at 325F for 30-35 minutes, or until the bread pudding bounces back when pressed in the center and the sides soufflé slightly.
- Cool before cutting into 3” x 3” squares.
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