Seated in a chair under an umbrella near Breeze Kitchen at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Chef David Viviano couldn’t contain a big smile.
“This career,’’ Viviano said, “has been good to me.’’
That’s a tough statement to dispute given the fact Viviano’s culinary odyssey has taken him from his native to places such as Phoenix, Aspen, Maui, and now Palm Beach as new executive chef at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa.
“If somebody told me when I was a kid that I was going to be a chef, I wouldn’t have believed them,’’ said Viviano, who will be front and center today at the resort’s Burger & Craft Beer Bash from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. “But now it makes sense because to me, food is family. I can’t think of doing anything else.’’
There was a time, however, when Viviano thought about (gasp) being a journalist. Viviano’s mother was a school teacher, who taught her son the values of an education.
“She told me to get my college degree and the explore my passions,’’ Viviano said. “One was writing; the other was cooking.’’
The cooking side won, not surprising considering Viviano’s father is a full-blooded Sicilian.
“My dad installed in me – at an early – the importance food,’’ he said. “To me, food is family. I started working in restaurants when I was 13. In college, I got a job as a prep cook and by the time I was a senior I was sous chef. I started skipping classes to go to work.’’
Thus, began Viviano’s culinary odyssey that now has landed him at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, where he already has started to revamp the menus as the resort’s dining outlets. For example, Viviano has added some more lighter fare, including more salads and flatbreads, to the Tempe Orange Mediterranean buffer, and added more seafood entrees to the Breeze Kitchen menu. The Falafel Burger, by the way, is a “must have’’ lunch item at Temple Orange. Viviano also has added some seafood options to the Temple Orange dinner menu.
Understand, Viviano’s goal at Eau Palm Beach, isn’t to re-invent the culinary wheel, but to refine it.
“The important part of being a chef, I think, is how you take simple ingredients and make them exciting.’’