When the Washington, D.C.-based eatery Fiola opened its doors in 2011, it was immediately met with rave reviews for its seasonally driven Italian cuisine—and now it's nominated for our Best New Restaurant award. We got in touch with chef/owner and JBF Award Winner Fabio Trabocchi to discuss what inspired him to become a chef, his favorite spring dish, and what he considers to be the best resource on authentic Italian cuisine.
JBF: What’s the significance of the name Fiola?
FT: It’s a word from an Italian dialect from the Le Marche region of Italy, which is where I’m from. It’s comparable to "sweetheart" in English.
JBF: What’s your favorite dish on the menu right now and why?
FT: Anything that involves shellfish, seafood, and spring vegetables. One of my favorite dishes to cook during spring is a morel and white asparagus casserole.
JBF: We’ve read that you were already working in the kitchen of a Michelin three-starred restaurant by the tender age of 16. When did you realize that you wanted to become a chef?
FT: I started cooking at age eight, My father was and still is my inspiration to this day. He loved to cook, but most importantly he loved the best ingredients and, since he was a farmer, he knew how to grow them.
JBF: What’s your favorite dish to eat at home?
FT: My wife’s Spanish omelet: it’s always perfectly cooked and slightly runny on the inside.
JBF: What’s your favorite cookbook and why?
FT: Le Ricette Regionali Italiane by Anna Gosetti della Salda. It is a true source of authentic Italian cuisine. It will never be translated!
JBF: What’s your earliest food memory?
FT: Being six years old and picking rosemary for my father’s Sunday roast in our garden.