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The Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor's New Clothes

Fabio Picchi has always been my favorite chef-restaurateur in Florence and he's created an empire in the Sant'Ambrogio area.  His restaurant Cibreo, trattoria Cibreino, bar, and private club, Teatro del Sale serve some the city's best food, at prices that range from expensive (Cibreo) to bargain (Teatro del Sale).  Membership in the club is 5 euro for foreigners not living in Florence, and the club is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner.  Meals are served buffet style, with hot dishes coming out in waves, announced by Fabio or the chef from the window of the glassed-in kitchen-view the wood-burning oven (amazing roast potatoes) and slow spinning spit-roaster (pork and sausage skewers) and last minute preparations.  In the evening, dinner is served at 7:30 until 9, when the food is cleared away and there's a show-cabaret, comedy, music-check out the schedule on the website.  The shop in the front room has an old-fashioned look, with shelves of Cibreo's home-made savory and sweet preserves and a selection of fine products-Sicilian salt, canned tuna, extra virgin, Lorenzo Villoresi's special bath salts made just for the Teatro. 

And now Fabio, not one to sit still, has designed a clothing line called Memoria di un cuoco, inspired by the comfort of his work clothes.  I was incredulous and had to check it out.  Fabio explained that his collection is permanent, classic, and won't ever change, although he will add new items.  The jacket, cut like a chef's, is made of quality sweatshirt material, navy blue, with double row of covered buttons, and a recipe subtly printed in green inside. He demonstrated numerous ways of buttoning the jacket--there are 24, but you'll have to visit the Teatro to learn them all. The pants are comfortable khakis, with a black and white checked lining at the cuffs and inside pockets to evoke chefs wear.  There's a tie-Fabio had a vision of it in a dream, strange since he's never worn one (and it's not chef's attire) but it's black, seamless, with a diagonal stripe inside, and can be worn on either side. And a t-shirt.  I tried the jacket on and, of course, had to buy it.  Comfortable, soft, easy to wear, and I love having the recipe close to my heart.  The clothing line is currently sold only in the Teatro del Sale's shop, which will probably go on-line in the fall.  And Fabio's got a new cookbook, as unique as everything else he does, "Come una preghiera, il cielo in terra...I Dieci Commandamenti"  ('Like a prayer, heaven on earth...The Ten Commandments") coming out in October.  Stay tuned to the website for news.   

-August 2009 link to the article published in  The Atlantic Magazine


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