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Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani: How to Create the Ultimate Awards Viewing Party Menu


Life & Style

Awards season has officially arrived, and you know what that means—it’s time for the annual rotation of awards viewing parties. Whether you happen to be an honored guest for your neighbors’ Golden Globes potluck this weekend (Jan. 11), or you’re hosting friends in your own media room for the Oscars (Feb. 22), it’s time to do something different with your party menu this year. You know: a twist on the obligatory charcuterie spread, an update on the tried-and-true crudité, a new spin on the sparkling wine cocktail.

FABIO_W_PASTA_1_BLOGPreviews® Inside Out turned to “Top Chef” extraordinaire Fabio Viviani for some refreshing ideas on awards viewing party dishes. As owner and executive chef of two Los Angeles-based Italian restaurants, cookbook author and spokesperson for Bertolli Olive Oil, Viviani naturally answered our questions with an Italian flavor. Needless to say, he mesmerized us with simple suggestions of burrata crostini and meatballs—all in his dreamy Florentine accent!

Previews Inside Out If you were hosting an awards viewing party at home, what would your menu look like?

Fabio Viviani I would have a lot of finger foods—nothing that requires taking your eyes off the TV! Forget big, showy dishes like lasagna. With dishes like that, you need to look down at your plate to make sure you’re not making a mess in your lap. For a simple appetizer, I’d go with a crostini, with burrata and prosciutto. If you want something more elaborate, maybe tuna tartare on a piece of cracker. I also like small meatballs on a skewer, or maybe a cherry tomato and cheese on a stick.

Previews Inside Out Do you have a simple go-to dish for the dreaded potluck party? You know…something tasty, but easy to transport.

Fabio Viviani For a cold dish, I would bring an al dente pasta salad with meatballs cut in half. For a hot dish, I would bring braised short rib mac and cheese.

Previews Inside Out And for the guest who is always dieting and doing her best to look red-carpet ready? Anything on the lighter side?

Fabio Viviani The key to eating lighter is moderation. You can still eat pasta. Cook the dish you love, and if you must, cut back on the salt. You can add spices and herbs packed with flavor without the calories. For me personally, though, I would rather have a good meal than eat like a goat for three weeks!

Previews Inside Out You might say that the home kitchen has become “the theatre of the home”—a stage for the chef of the house to show off his or her skills (and state-of-the-art) tools. What’s on your stage?

Fabio Viviani Because I’m a professional chef, I must have a well-organized kitchen. It must have a big center isle and an oversized range with a 10-burner grill. I always have my seasonings and oils in front of me. Unfortunately, I don’t get to enjoy my kitchen as much as I would like.

Previews Inside Out Do you watch any of the awards shows?

Fabio Viviani Yes, I do. Although I don’t get to watch much TV, since I travel so much.

Previews Inside Out What’s your pick for “Best Movie” this year? What about “Best Television Series”?

Fabio Viviani I think “The Birdman” was very good. And “The Theory of Everything” was also great, but sad. As far as TV, I watch a lot of soccer, and I enjoy “Walking Dead,” which I watch with a gun and crossbow by my side!

Previews Inside Out Are you a drama guy or a comedy guy?

Fabio Viviani I’m a bottle of wine-and-whatever-movie-my-wife-wants-to-watch guy. At home, I have no say. We watch movies based on her mood—if she’s sad, we will watch a really sappy movie, and if she’s happy, we’ll watch a comedy. She lets me pick out the wine.

Previews Inside Out Do you pick the wine based on her mood?


Fabio Viviani I pick it based on my mood!

Previews Inside Out Do you have a favorite from your collection?

Fabio Viviani Honestly—and I’m not just saying this—we end up drinking a lot of the wine from my winery, Fabio Viviano Estates in Santa Ynez. We have lot of it at home, plus it’s free. I love Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio. We’re coming out with a Chianti soon, too.

Previews Inside Out What’s the ultimate crowd-pleasing pasta dish in your house?

Fabio Viviani In my house, I can make fresh pasta in three minutes. All I need to do is crack four eggs, and add 12 to 13 ounces of flour and a pinch of salt and pepper to create the dough. Then I roll it out and press it with my thumb to make orecchiette pasta, which is one of the quickest pastas. From the moment I crack the egg to the moment I plate, it’s 15 minutes. I like to add mushroom and pork to my pastas. Another favorite is fettuccine with roasted mushroom, veal broth and Grana Padano cheese. For a simple appetizer, I’ll set out a plate of cheese and prosciutto San Daniele. You must have that. It’s a little milder than prosciutto di Parma, which is more common. It’s great for snacking.

Previews Inside Out You’ve partnered with Bertolli Olive Oil to inspire consumers in the kitchen. Do you have a recipe from your Let’s Cook! app with Bertolli that would be suitable for an awards viewing party?

Fabio Viviani Well, my personal favorites from the app are the Caprese Salad with Zucchini and Pork Chop with Apple Salad, but those aren’t necessarily suitable for a viewing party. The Squash Flapjacks with Basil Cream from my book are a great choice.



Squash Flapjacks with Basil Cream

BLOG_Fabio's American Home Kitchen_SQUASH_FLAPJACKS_BASIL_CREAM_Photo Matt Armendariz (1) (1)

Makes 10 small flapjacks

Fabio says: “To keep your sauce a really bright green, blanch your basil first by immersing it in boiling water for just 30 seconds, then fishing it out with a spider ladle or slotted spoon and shocking it in ice water for few minutes. This will prevent the chlorophyll in the leaves from turning dark in color. For extra insurance, add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to your boiling water.” 

Basil Cream Ingredients:

⅔ cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, blanched and shocked (see head note)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cold water
½ garlic clove

Flapjack Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled and seeded
3 egg whites
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400° F.


Blend the sour cream, basil, salt, pepper, water and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Place in a serving bowl and set aside. Grate the squash using a coarse grater, place in a baking pan, and roast for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Transfer the squash to a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and a dash of salt with a handheld mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the cornstarch to the squash and mix well. Generously grind pepper on the mixture. Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites. Heat a thin layer of oil in a nonstick skillet. Using two tablespoons, drop heaps of the squash mixture onto the hot oil and, using the back of a spoon, press the flapjacks to make them a little flatter. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for the same amount of time on the opposite sides. Drain on paper towels and continue to fry until all the squash mixture has been used. Serve the flapjacks on a large plate smothered in sauce and the grated Parmesan.

From “Fabio’s American Home Kitchen” by Fabio Viviani; published by Hachette Books, a division of the Hachette Book Group. Copyright ©2014 FV Legacy, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. Page 205.



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Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani: How to Create the Ultimate Awards Viewing Party Menu

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