Conde Nast Traveler

« To Tarmac or Not to Tarmac | Main | Aspen and the Bears of Summer »

August 28, 2009

Cooking With Top Chef Fabio Viviani

by Beata Loyfman-Santora

What do you get when you combine a suave Italian chef and a bumbling editor who doesn't know the difference between risotto and Rice-A-Roni? Click above and see for yourself.

I recently had the good fortune of getting a private cooking lesson from Top Chef Season 5 finalist Fabio Viviani. After his successful stint on Bravo, the Florentine charmer published a cookbook called Café Firenze, named for his popular restaurant in Moorpark, California. Fabio was kind enough to create a few simple dishes just for us and, amazingly, he didn't even flinch when we asked him to teach yours truly, a kitchen nitwit, how to make them. On camera. We're lucky the whole place didn't catch fire.

After cooking, Fabio's best pal and business partner, Jacopo Falleni, made a fabulous summertime drink he calls "Tranquility" (see page 107 in the book for details). Now, this was one lesson I could really get behind.

Although it wasn't easy to keep my composure with these Italian stallions around, I managed to remain vertical for much of the time. Check out the fabulous recipes after the jump.

Seared Tuna with Caramelized Fennel and Salsa Verde
Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
3 whole fennel bulbs, cut in half and sliced very thin
1 lb sushi-grade tuna loin
¼ cup capers, no need to rinse
3 cloves of garlic
1-2 lemons, juiced
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces parsley, roughly chopped
3 slices white crustless bread, torn into pieces

In a 10-inch fry pan, melt butter on high heat. Add the fennel, season with salt and pepper, and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, or caramelized, 5 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat. In another frying pan, warm 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and then sear the tuna on high heat until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. (Note: You want only the edges to be cooked; the center should be pink, almost still raw). Remove tuna from the heat, place on a cutting board, and let rest for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend all of the other ingredients, except the bread, in a food processor to make a salsa verde. Add the bread pieces, thinning the mixture with more olive oil if necessary. Then thinly slice the tuna for serving.

To plate, spread all salsa verde on the bottom of a large dish platter, fan the seared tuna on it, and top with the caramelized fennel. Sprinkle some parsley and serve.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Brown Butter Sage and Shaved Parmesan
Serves 4

24 pieces of asparagus, bottom ends slightly peeled
8 slices prosciutto
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups whole fresh sage leaves
8 ounces shaved Parmesan
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus, cooking for about 2 minutes. Remove and immediately submerge in ice-cold water to stop from cooking. Pat dry.

Wrap four pieces of asparagus with one slice of prosciutto. Continue to do this until all the asparagus are wrapped. Then arrange them on a plate.

In a saute pan, cook the sage and butter until butter is golden brown (not burnt). Drizzle the asparagus with butter/sage sauce and then top with shaved Parmesan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.


I'll expect this at the next dinner gathering. ;-)

I'm drooling!

click to post a comment >

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
Email: Daily updates



Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.
Traveler Magazine




I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions