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'Top Chef' Fabio - My Old Boss Is a Jerk, Chicken

9/27/2009 2:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

'Top Chef' fan favorite winner Fabio Viviani claims his old business partner quick-fired him for all the wrong reasons -- and now he's suing the guy for everything and the kitchen sink.

Fabio and a guy named Jacopo Falleni are going after Michael Takeda -- because they claim Michael promised them handsome rewards for helping him start a restaurant in 2006 ... but never got squat.

In the lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Ventura County, Fabio and Jacopo say they worked 130-140 hours a week for six months getting Cafe Firenze off the ground -- and were promised 15% ownership of the joint and $4,000 a month for their hard work.

And there's this: Fabio claims he's the reason the place got popular ... because after his stint on "Top Chef," business skyrocketed from a half-million dollars a year to nearly $4 million.

In the lawsuit, the fellas claim Takeda chickened out when it came to paying them the 4k a month and never acknowledged their 15% ownership.

They are suing for unspecified damages.


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Fabio was rarely at the Cafe Firenze. I would say that Fabio is one with a large ego, but large ego beware as you will self distruct with your lies and TRUTH will prevail.

I have eaten at Cafe Firenze since Fabio leaving, the food is excellent!
But, since Fabio rarely cooked their to begin with..... figure it out.

Good luck to the Takedas!


1796 days ago


U uys all know Fabio he was my little brother and sister godfaher.He risk his marrige he left my mom's friend jessica thinking he is very coming back. But he is not he has left for italy and he is sueing his father-in-law for everything mike has.He used my mom's friend jessica just to gett his green card.And now he had her think she is crazy and told her to never talk to me and my family ever again.

1844 days ago

U Need Couch Time    

Wow. Glad that all the Firenze staff and "friends" chose TMZ to air their garbage. Pretty classy, guys. Ms. AntiFabio, you really picked a poor forum to post all that.

So anyone that has read all of this, hope you can clearly see that some people who supposedly are "close" to all of this have HUGE axes to grind against Fabio & Jacopo. But if it was just a family issue, or a marriage issue, or a Takeda issue, then I really doubt that THIRTEEN staff members would have quit the next day. And I really doubt that their head chef would have left as well if this was all Fabio's fault. The people that worked with him and knew him best are loyal, and that speaks volumes to me.

If Fabio & Jacopo were just messing around, giving free meals, and not devoted to the restaurant, then maybe someone "close" to all this can explain the COINCIDENCE of how revenues jumped from $500k to $4mil after Top Chef and while they were out promoting? Do we really expect to believe that it was because Takeda is a nice guy or a good business man?

I truly hope that the restaurant can do okay, only for the poor people who are left and cannot find new work.

But to all the haters on here? Seriously, find somewhere else to work out your issues. You seriously need some couch time.

1844 days ago

Voice of Reason    

Ms AntiFabio, really, perhaps you should also explain that Mr. Takeda urged his daughter to get a restraining order against you for trying to break up her marriage to Fabio and that she told you never to contact her again. And maybe you should disclose to the good readers that you were banned from Cafe Firenze way before any of the current drama went down. So here's another thing to consider. If you, supposedly Fabio's wife's best friend, had concrete information that he was going to do this, Mike Takeda ignored it and banned you from Cafe Firenze, thereby selling out his own daughter's happiness and future, in order to preserve his cash cow. And that, ladies and gentlemen, should sum up exactly the type of man he is.

Fabio and Jacapo actually did work those crazy hours. They put their heart and soul into that place. And now nearly the entire staff of Cafe Firenze is turned over. All of you that have good memories and experiences there- nearly everyone who made those memories for you are gone. That doesn't happen because a megalomaniac was in charge. That happens when a good person is treated badly. People are outraged and they risk everything to follow him (them) to a new venture, even though it is a longer drive, etc. Because they believe that good things will happen to good people. Or, maybe Fabio is really a cult leader and has them all fooled. We'll see. I guess time will tell. But my guess is that Fabio and company will do quite well. Because they are willing to put in the passion and time and effort into their new restaurant. And because the people who trust and believe in them and know the real story will too. But if I'm wrong, maybe Mike and Cafe Firenze will flourish. I'd love to put some money on it.

1844 days ago


I'm hoping with all this drama among family and coworkers, that Fabio and his wife are still together. Because if there was really love and not some green card scam, they'd be together and stick through because they love each other. I'm sure if what you are saying is true Voice of Reason, then Jessica fully supports Fabio, correct?
If Fabio wins against her step-father too, I wonder if she's entitled to half of that money? (California law?)

1844 days ago

sarah petty    

hey voice of reason - if you are right... then why has mike called anifabio for help? TWICE IN THE LAST TWO DAYS... The truth will all come out in time And Jess knows exactly who her friends are. It seems you really dont know what your talking about.... We'll see if those clowns are loyal to you in 6 months.. my advise, dont loan them money or your heart. Good Luck Girl

1843 days ago


For all the comments out there about this situation. My friend and I were dining at the restaurant at the end of September, both of us have lived in Moorpark forever and a day.
Mr Takeda was at Cafe Firenze that night. He came over politely and started talking to us, we asked him many questions about the restaurant, Fabio and his wife, etc. Mr Takeda, never once mentioned the problems that were going on between Fabio and their family. We had to read all about it in our local paper, that next week.
We frequented the restaurant often and we never once saw Fabio there after his appearance on Top Chef. In the very beginning when the restaurant was only a small cafe, is when we saw Fabio and Jacapo actually working in the restaurant.
I know a waitress that works there, and she said Fabio was hardly ever there, and was always away without his wife. I thought how sad, it must be for his wife to be without her husband a lot of the time.
With his fame from the T.V. show, he doesn't need the people that gave him the opportunity to be successful anymore. Also, Fabio and his wife met in Ventura @ Cafe Fiore when he was only working as a sous chef, and had nothing.
I feel very bad about the whole situation. Set aside the money, fame and drama. People are hurting and families are broken apart.
I hope that Cafe Firenze will continue to be successful. I drove by the other night, and it was nice to see the parking lot full on a Thursday night. I do feel they need to make some changes to their menu. The dishes are very Cafe Fiore-ish.
Hopefully, things will get resolved quickly for everyone and so they all can go on with their lives.
There are always two sides to a story and karma is always a bitch.

1823 days ago


Fabio, Fabio, Fabio... you have realized the American dream. Be grateful for all that you have and stop whining. You could never have opened that restaurant on your own. Be glad that you are much farther ahead in your career and save some dignity by not biting the hand that fed you. This is the family that you chose to be a part of. If you ever really cared for any of them, you would be a man and avoid hurting people that showed you so much generosity.

1823 days ago


Forest, who are you talking to? You seem to be quoting what I said, but are talking to a different poster. I'm not the poster who said I saw their checks. I don't work there. I'm just a resident here who doesn't want to see ANY business fail. (And not many restaurants here have!) We also have something here in podunk Moorpark that I failed to mention--Reagan Library is right nearby! Dignitaries don't even mind coming to our neck of the woods. Reagan liked it so much, he wanted to be buried here! LOL
If they took advantage of Fabio or other employees, then I don't feel sorry for them if they do. All of the info about what really happened will be revealed in court.

1850 days ago


moorpark has the right idea... forest obivously has no idea about what he or she is talking about. as far as cashing in and hitting the road, i may not have much power, but i will do everything i can to make sure cafe firenze not only stays open, but continues to be successful under new managment. its obivious that fabio and his partner are trying to screw mr takeda over.

best of luck to them

1850 days ago


I think Mr. Takeda shot his foot off. It's gonna hurt, but you learn to get by with a limp. Things are gonna be fine at Cafe Firenze. Moorpark is prosperous, the food Great, as well as the service. Fabio and Jacopo are nothing but faces without John and they know it, but these days a face is worth a lot of money. They are all great guys Fabio Jacopo and Mike. It's too bad it had to go down like this. I hope both restaurants flourish. Any growth is good growth these days.

1849 days ago


Mike, the guy being sued is the step-father of Fabio's wife, Jessica. Family & business don't always mix!

1849 days ago


Again lots more comments from ppl who dont know the whole story athough i hate to break it to everyone who loves john but he left too and the restuarnt will be nothing with out John or fabio. And everyones right dont mix family with business. Dont fret though look for them in studio city soon ;)

1848 days ago


Doesn't Fabio's wife still own half of anything he makes or owns under California law?
So, even if he walks over the Takeda family, she still has somewhat of control there (unless they signed a prenup of course).

1847 days ago


I used to eat there a lot... The place is huge. The overhead has to be enormous. Friday it was vacant. Saturday, mid dinner rush, I drove by on the way to have dinner in LA, the parking lot was empty. I stopped in to see what was going on. Surprise, Fabio is gone, and took his entire crew with him.

I would be amazed if the place lasted the holiday season. Great town, but the place needed to draw from other areas, and that draw was Fabio. Imagine my surprise to find that they are giving out COUPONS to go there! LOL Someone above said “olive garden” and that’s about where its going. Quite a sad day for Moorpark when Fabio was run off.

I don’t pretend to know that details of what went on, and the obvious mud slinging done here is beyond comprehension, but without Fabio, what do you have? Another regular Italian joint. Good thing there aren’t 3 more within walking distance of that place.

I would venture this however… If Fabio, his partner, and the entire cook staff left, I would tend to think this issue isn’t with Fabio. Just a guess, but usually, the bad seed doesn’t take the flower with it. Although the postings in this forum sure seem to display the venom of some of the remaining members of Café Firenze and Mr. Takeda.

1847 days ago
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