CHEF FABIO VIVIANI
Chef Fabio Viviani has harbored a passion for food since his childhood growing up in Florence, Italy. Between training in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at the top hospitality schools and working with culinary luminaries such as Alessandro Panzani and Saverio Carmagini, Viviani also owned and operated several concepts by the time he was 27 including two nightclubs and five restaurants in Florence. Although a well-respected businessman in Italy, he was ready for a change and in 2005, Viviani moved to California where he opened his first USA based restaurant Café Firenze in Moorpark, CA.
Teaming up with one of Chicago’s restaurant consulting group, Dine|Amic, Viviani opened Siena Tavern in Chicago in 2013 and the following year he opened Mercato by Fabio Viviani, a quick-service Italian concept with branches in Chicago and San Diego. In 2015, Viviani continued to make a name for himself in Chicago by opening Bar Siena and Prime & Provisions. In 2016, he expanded to the LAX Delta terminal with the opening of Osteria by Fabio Viviani, which won USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Airport Sit Down Dining” in 2018. Simultaneously, he opened additional Mercato by Fabio locations in Tempe, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Benton Harbor. In 2017, Fabio opened the Press Room in Detroit hot on the heels of his February opening of Portico by Fabio Viviani in New York’s del Lago Resort & Casino.
Looking ahead to 2018, Viviani plans to open restaurants in Tampa, Detroit, Washington D.C. and Oklahoma City. He also plans to open high end food courts in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and Missouri before the end of the year.
Best known for his television debut on Bravo’s hit series Top Chef—earning the “Fan Favorite” title—his on-screen appearances have propelled him to become one of the top culinary names in the country.
He is a recurring guest on national television shows such as Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew, and countless Food Network Shows such as Cutthroat Kitchen: All- Star Tournament, which he won. In February 2017, he released “Fabio’s Kitchen,” a 52-episode cooking show hosted on YouTube followed by a second season that was launched on May 2018.
Off-screen, Viviani is a regular headliner at global food events and aside from his restaurant businesses, Viviani also owns a winery in Sonoma that produces the five wine varietals in the Fabio Viviani Wine Collection.
In addition to owning lines of cookware and culinary gadgets, he is also a spokesman for international brands such as Bialetti Cookware. He has authored four successful cookbooks: Café Firenze Cookbook, New York Times Best-Seller Fabio’s Italian Kitchen, Fabio’s American Home Kitchen, and most recently Fabio’s 30-Minute Italian released in May 2017.
His varied accomplishments have impressed many, resulting in his induction into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame as 2017 Chef of the Year on March 8, 2017.
CHEF JONATHON STRANGER
Chef Jonathon Stranger developed an interest in cooking early on. As a child he spent weekends at his family’s farm in Chandler, Oklahoma, where he would help his grandma prepare dinner using items found out in the country.
Those fond memories stoked a lifelong passion that took Jonathon from the food mecca of New York City — where he worked under two of the world’s finest, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Burke — to Germany, Houston and Oregon before eventually returning him to his hometown of Oklahoma City. Along the way he spent three years studying with another renowned chef, Paul Wade. Jonathon credits much of his culinary approach — innovative but unfussy — to his mentor. “He taught me to look deeply into each product and each moment of cooking,” Jonathon says. Recently, Jonathon centralized his cooking operations as chef-owner with the openings of En Croute and St. Mark’s Chop Room, where he currently operates in a creative capacity for special events as he pursues additional entrepreneurial endeavors. He is also co-owner of Prairie Wolf Spirits, a distillery based in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Jonathon often lends his talents toward community-driven events such as fundraising for May 2013 tornado victims as part of OK Chefs Relief or by coming full circle with his upbringing, helping diners reconnect with the land with adventures such as Outstanding in the Field. All of these experiences have led to Jonathon’s present-day mantra. “Each restaurant and hospitality outpost is an opportunity to create a positive moment for someone, from first-time to repeat customers. Through responsibly sourced ingredients, and a style of service that is upscale, unfussy, and fun, we can gratefully accommodate everyone to a proper, from the heart, meal,” Jonathon says.