Fabio Viviani, Co-Owner/Executive Chef Ken Biffar, Executive Chef

For true, authentic Italian cuisine in the Valley, it doesn’t get any better than Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake.

4212 Lankershim Blvd. in Toluca Lake | 818-760-7081 | firenzeosteria.com

For true, authentic Italian cuisine in the Valley, it doesn’t get any better than Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake. Owned by celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, the restaurant features homemade pastas, dry-aged meats, imported cheese, organic vegetables, an extensive wine list and unique martinis. Catering by Firenze Osteria is available offsite or onsite in the private events room, and cooking classes are also offered. You’ll find a variety of dining options and prices at Firenze Osteria, from a lunch menu of specials for less than $10 to a personalized Chef’s Table dining experience with Chef Fabio.

Well-known for his appearance on the fifth season of the popular TV show Top Chef and his return to Bravo as a competitor in the 2010 Top Chef All Stars edition, Chef Fabio is originally from Florence, Italy. He started his culinary career working in a bakery at age 12 and then a casual trattoria at age 14. He became sous chef at age 16. Fabio attended Italy’s Instituto Professionale per Servizi Alberghieri and trained with culinary luminaries while working in, managing and owning a variety of restaurants in Italy and then Southern California. He is passionate about promoting healthy eating for children, and he has published two successful cookbooks—Cafe Firenze Cookbook and an e-book entitled Did I Really Make Breakfast?

Tell us about your executive chef.

“Executive Chef Ken Biffar is as good as I am, if not better than me. I am the mind behind the whole operation, and I try to spend as much time there as I can, but he’s the guy who knows exactly what to do, when to do it, how to do it. I couldn’t ask for a better executive chef.”

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?

“My hands. You can have the best knives and tools, but if you can’t use your hands, food preparation would be tough. I also love a soup spoon.”

Are you using any new-to-you foods this year?

“I discovered a passion for chipotle pepper, I love it in adobo sauce. And I’m in love with Cap’n Crunch!”

What’s most rewarding about your work?

“Seeing people happy when they eat something I make. It’s nice to see that your business is thriving, because it means you’re making people happy. The fact that people like to see me on TV or like my personality when they meet me, that makes me feel great.”