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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.

47 COMMENTS

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16.

Will    

Hey underthebridge... I mean Brian...

Relax... your dream came true.. have fun there... and quit bugging my assistant.

I wot comment on the situation there however...

1755 days ago
17.

sarah petty    

Here is the truth. URMASTER and MARIA are 100% CORRECT. My husband and I have known them since they walked off the plane from Italy. Fabio married my best friend. He WAS God Father to our kids.
He used Mike and Jessica. Jacapo and Fabio have had this entire thing planned from the start. LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR - FABIO IS A LIAR!!!!!!! HE WOULDNT KNOW THE TRUTH IF IT WAS THROWN AT HIS STUPID, SMUG, LYING FACE! I cant believe it took us all so long to realize the scam he was pulling on Jessica and her family. They gave Fabio EVERYTHING! THEY TOOK HIM IN! THEY TRUSTED HIM! THEY MORTGAGED EVERYTHING THEY HAD TO BUILD HIM A RESTAURANT TO RUN BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED HIS STORIES AND THOUGHT THEY WERE DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR THEIR DAUGHTER AND HER NEW HUSBAND.
FABIO AND JACAPO RIPPED THAT FAMILY APART ALONG WITH SOME GOOD FRIENDSHIPS WITH THEIR LIES. Cafe Firenze will be fine without those too clowns. Mike and Jessica are good honest people that got swindled by two conmen.
FABIO! GO BACK TO ITALY!!!! WE DONT WANT YOU HERE ANYMORE! YOUR 15 MINS ARE UP BOY!!!! Besides, your food always made us sick! And Yes, he totally stole the menu from Cafe Fiore in Ventura when they fired his ass!

1755 days ago
18.

Michele    

AntiFabio, that is horrendous. It sounds like your story backs up a lot of other stories I have heard here in Moorpark.
I've been in a similar situation and I know how it feels to be swindled and used by someone you cared about. After reading your post, I will make sure to visit Cafe Firenze more often!!! I actually stopped going because I wasn't interested in the fanfare and hype surrounding Fabio. (If Fabio being on Top Chef was the reason people were coming out in the first place, that's pretty pathetic! The best chefs aren't on dumb reality shows! And Fabio certainly wasn't the best!)
Hopefully karma exists and it will bite Fabio and his cronies in their butt.

1754 days ago
19.

Your Neighbor    

My husband and I enjoyed Cafe Firenze much more BEFORE Fabio got big. Each visit in the past few months has been more disappointing than the last. The food quality and service has taken a nosedive, and we’re sick of the giant ego. We saw things changing last year when we stopped in early one Saturday evening (5:30 pm) without a reservation and were told, with a withering look from the hostess, that it would be a 5-hour wait. Riiiiight. Then a few weeks later the club music came on at 9 pm, forcing us to shout at each other over the dinner table. We finally quit going when the Ducatis, TV cameras, and Burbank rejects showed up (for “Club Privilege”? How cheesy.) Universal City sounds like a much better fit for them. I hope Café Firenze will turn back into the nice classy neighborhood restaurant we used to love.

1754 days ago
20.

sarah petty    

Cafe Firenze supporter.... Your right.
My husband and I and 2 other of Jessica's girlfriends found out what Fabio and Jacapo were planning about 7 months ago and tried to warn both Jessica and her family. But Love is blind right. So needless to say, it did not go very well. Fabio screamed and threw a fit like a two year old child. Serious EGOMANIAC! Im glad he's out of our lives. He and Jacapo leave nothing but desruction in their paths. Wherever he's headed next... I hope his new business partners protect themselves better than his last victims.

1754 days ago
21.

Simone    

Third!!!!!!!!!

1759 days ago
22.

gus    

I'm sure the guy's a dirtbag but don't claim you worked 20 hours a day for 6 months. Please.

1759 days ago
23.

sandy eggo    

this definitely calls for a chef kooky recipe!!!

1759 days ago
24.

uncle charlie weaver    

One interesting part of this story that you left out: Takeda is also Fabio's father-in-law.

1759 days ago
25.

Attorney Smith    

Fabio is right in his reason the place got popular because after his stint on "Top Chef," business skyrocketed when it came to paying them the 4k a month and never acknowledged their 15% ownership.
http://attorneysmax.com/

1759 days ago
26.

TONY    

HANDSOME REWARDS, HANDSOME REWARDS & MORE HANDSOME REWARDS.
WHO WAS THIS GUY DEALING WITH, SINBAD THE SAILOR.
I READ UP UNTIL THAT PART & INSTANTLY KNEW THIS GUY IS AN IDIOT. HANDSOME REWARDS,LOL LOL LOL

1759 days ago
27.

jeff    

So was this supposed agreement put in writing? If not the guy is an idiot.

1759 days ago
28.

Pam    

Cafe Firenze had terrible food and awful service. We were shocked. And, the bill was really high for nothing. We went ONLY because Fabio was supposedly the lead chef after watching him on Top Chef. Hopefully he opens a restaurant where he actually does the cooking.

1759 days ago
29.

balls    

balls

1759 days ago
30.

SweetDee    

"quick-fired" i get it. very punny.

1759 days ago
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