The Wordrobe talks career highlights, hospitality secrets and the power of fine dining with Italian-born Fabio Trabocchi
Putting the ‘fab’ in fine dining, Fabio Trabocchi an Italian chef and restaurateur based in Washington, D.C., where his flagship restaurant Fiola earned a coveted Michelin Star.
With an impressive portfolio of restaurants now under his belt, Trabocchi recently launched his latest outpost – Fiola at Dopolavoro Venezia.
Located at JW Marriott Venice, on the picturesque private island of Isola delle Rose, editor-in-chief Sophie Ritchie caught up with Fabio to find out more about the new Italian opening and his culinary career path so far.
What inspired you to become a chef?
In the early years of my life when I was growing up as the son of a truck driver and a former farmer, I knew nothing about fine dining or fancy restaurants. And we didn’t have the resources to even cross the threshold of a fine dining restaurant.
What we did have, thanks to my father’s heritage, was a deep appreciation for food. My father’s love of gathering everyone at the family table was a cultural and educational act, but above all, it was intended to express our love and care for each other.
I started cooking at home as a kid. I’d make dinner for my sister and anxiously await her approval, coming up with dishes to nurture her as an act of love.
Food was a way of making people happy and communicating that they mattered. Despite our poor upbringing, we felt rich in spirit and happy when we ate together.
I loved how food made people feel and what emotions it could provoke.
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
At age 14 when I had to start work to help support my family, that appreciation made me want to pursue a culinary career.
I sought to work for the best and did, under Gualtieri Marchesi, the first Italian chef to win three Michelin stars for his restaurant on Via Bonvesin de la Riva in Milan and the founder of what has become modern Italian cuisine.
That is where I discovered that what is behind the craft of fine dining is the consuming passion to build an extraordinary experience for the guest.
I remember the endless number of hours that went into the work in the kitchen and the meticulous attention to detail in every step of the process.
The hard-working service team set the dining room painstakingly and perfectly orchestrated service as if it was a ballet.
The research that went into creating a wine list, choosing just the right the fresh flowers for the room, the warm welcome the guests received.
This was all magic to me, and I fell in love with this way of life and acquired a deep appreciation for the finer things in life.
What’s your favourite summer dish?
A bowl of perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes with the finest Sicilian olive oil and fresh basil.
What can guests expect from a meal at Fiola at Dopolavoro Venezia?
This Fiola is so unique and really cannot be compared to anything we have in the US. It’s located on the private island, Isola delle Rose, and the restaurant building stands alone on the island.
It has a patio and a garden, where many of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs are grown for the restaurant. The restaurant is surrounded by olive trees. For these reasons, it’s a canvas for creativity that embraces all the benefits of being in Italy.
People who come to our restaurants will likely taste something they’ve never tried before and learn about an ingredient they’ve never heard of before.
They will have a one-of-a-kind dining experience because we have a team that shares my belief that fine dining should be transformative, and we will all do whatever we can to make that happen.
What does hospitality mean to you?
Make people happy. That is our company credo and the basis of what do – and strive to do – in our restaurants.
It means the world to me that people choose to celebrate life’s milestones as well as their everyday meals with us.
We never take that honor and trust for granted and will always strive to make these moments – no matter how significant or casual – even more special. That is why we do what we do.
What does it take to achieve a Michelin star?
Persistence, passion, consistency … and an entire team that believes.
Do you have any role models?
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
Travel for five years, one year in each country that you like. Spend time working for the very best.
Don’t think about the money, learn as much as possible to pave the foundation of your cuisine.
What do you think is 2019’s biggest food trend?
A return to the beauty and transformative power of a fine dining experience.
Find out more about Fabio and make a booking via JW Marriott Venice’s website.