The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2013

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Page 108 of 152

CHEFS: ONE-ON-ONE WITH MERRILL SHINDLER Fabio Trabocchi FOR THE ITALIAN-BORN CHEF OF FIOLA IN WASHINGTON, D.C., SIMPLICITY IS A VIRTUE F abio Trabocchi of Fiola in Washington D.C. (along with Casa Luca and Fiola Mare) can hardly remember a time when he didn't live a life in food. He grew up tending his family's organic garden in the Marche region of Italy with his father and his grandparents. In his early teens, he enrolled in culinary school. By 16, he was working in the kitchen of the Michelin three-star Gualtiero Marchesi in Milan. He went on to Floriana in London, Maestro in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, Fiamma in New York —and finally Fiola, a Modern Italian place of his own. PHOTO COURTESY OF FIOLA Merrill Shindler: What was your earliest memory of food? Fabio Trabocchi: My father was a farmer. So we never went to a grocery store. We got all our products from local farms. I knew where to get the perfect chicken for our Sunday meal, where to get the right tomato. Who did the cooking in your family? Dad was the chef. In farm families you have to be everything—plumber, painter, cook. We always had fresh pasta, made with just-laid eggs. The kitchen was extremely basic, tiny. We built the grill ourselves, very Italian lifestyle. We were wallet-poor—but rich in eating. How did you land at Gualtiero Marchesi? Every weekend, I'd travel for hours to work for different chefs for free. When I heard Gualtiero Marchesi had an opening, I applied. I knew I had to go to the next level. He changed the way we saw food. It was no longer mama and papa. It elevated an entire cuisine. What do you cook at home? I cook with my kids every Sunday. Aliche is 12, and Luca is 10. It's time for us to get together in the kitchen and at the table, which we can't do the rest of the week. We cook lots of fish, whatever is seasonal, very simple. Everyone participates. Just like I did with my dad. Which kitchen tool is essential? The cast iron skillet. I can do so much with just a skillet. And a spoon. That's all I need. And what do you eat when the kids have gone to sleep? Ha! My version of junk food is a big fat jar of Nutella. It's peanut butter for Italian kids. I can taste the finest chocolate at Fiola. But at the end of the day it's Nutella I need. 108  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2013 TP1013_104-152.indd 108 9/23/13 10:33 PM

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