July 1, 2015 |

Expo Spotlight: Opening Keynote Speaker Announced!

By Bill Oakley


The 2016 International Pizza Expo Keynote speaker will be Fabio Viviani, restaurateur, reality television personality, headliner at global food events and festivals and New York Times best-selling author

The 2016 International Pizza Expo Opening Keynote speaker will be Fabio Viviani, restaurateur, reality television personality, headliner at global food events and festivals and New York Times best-selling author

I have some exciting news to share with you regarding next year’s International Pizza Expo, March 7 – 10, 2016.  I’m pleased to announce that we’ve lined up another dynamic keynote speaker to jump-start your trade show day. Next year, Chef Fabio Viviani, a restaurateur, reality television personality, headliner at global food events and festivals and New York Times best-selling author, will give our featured Tuesday keynote address. His e-books about various food subjects have appeared on multiple Amazon bestseller lists within weeks of their release. And if you’re looking for recipes, check out his Web site fabioviviani.com.

In 2014, he launched a free online magazine, Fabio’s Magazine, which includes new and original recipes, wine blogs, lifestyle and health-related articles. He even sells his own line of ceramic cookware — Co-Branded Signature Series Aeternum Evolution by Bialetti — which is the number one Italian brand of non-stick cookware. He also has several endorsement and licensing contracts with Bertolli Olive Oil, Smart Step Home Kitchen Mats, Picnic Time Giftware and Yahoo.com.

Fabio Viviani won over America with his thick native-Italian accent and suave-yet-gregarious persona on “Top Chef: New York.” And while he didn’t win the competition, he did earn the “fan favorite” title. He returned in 2010 to compete on “Top Chef: All-Stars” edition and a spinoff culinary reality show, “Life After Top Chef.” As a competitor in the “Superstar Sabotage” tournament of “Cutthroat Kitchen,” he defeated three other competitors, netting $10,000 for his charity of choice. His on-screen success has propelled him to become one of the fastest-growing household names. Viviani has appeared in a number of television shows and is a recurring guest on “The Talk,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Good Moring America,” “The Chew,” “Good Day LA,” “Access Hollywood” and has been guest host on the Hallmark Channel series “Home and Family.” He was also the host of the Telly and Webby award-winning Internet series “Chow Ciao!” on Yahoo!, one of the top 10 lifestyle and food shows.

Since his childhood days in Italy, Viviani has possessed a passion for food. As an early teenager, Fabio worked nights at a local Florence bakery and held several positions in the restaurant industry, even serving under the mentorship of Simone Mugnaini, an iconic figure in the Italian restaurant scene. In 1992, he began working at the acclaimed Il Pallaio, a casual trattoria in Florence, Italy, and managed to become sous chef to Mugnaini at the age of 16. He also had the opportunity to work under other culinary luminaries such as Alessandro Panzani and Severio Carmagini. By the time he turned 27, he had already operated five restaurants in Florence, a “farmhouse” and two nightclubs. Although a well-respected restaurateur and businessman, he was ready for a change of scenery and moved to Ventura County, California. There he opened Café Firenze in Moorpark and soon after the popular and trendy Los Angeles Italian eatery Firenze Osteria in North Hollywood.

Later he teamed up with Lucas Stoioff and David Rekhson, partners of the Chicago-based hospitality company DineAmic Group, and opened a third restaurant called Siena Tavern in Chicago in February 2013.  Siena Tavern, a rustic-Italian concept, has received accolades from the Chicago Tribune, Michigan Avenue, Thrillist and others for Viviani’s crowd-pleasing made-from-scratch menu consisting of homemade pastas and Neapolitan pizzas baked in a Woodstone oven. The partners recently opened a second location in Miami. The restaurant’s facets appeal to both diners and nightlife-goers, balancing a comfortable dining room with an upbeat tavern. The group also opened the buzzing sports bars Bull & Beer and Public House, as well as steakhouse Prime & Provisions. Fabio also launched three locations of Mercato by Fabio Viviani in the past year in Chicago and San Diego. The fast-casual restaurant has menu items similar to Siena Tavern. Mercato serves a great variety of Napoli-style pizzas that are cooked in a fire-burning oven, plus salads, sandwiches and pastas. Each restaurant uses a dough recipe specific to that restaurant that is determined by the humidity at each location.

We think you’ll find Chef Viviani’s fascinating life story –– and his ties to Italian cuisine and pizza –– an inspiring opening act on the busy first exhibit hall day at Pizza Expo.

Best regards,
Bill Oakley

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