Fabio Trabocchi, the star chef of New York City’s Fiamma, did not grow up in a wealthy family. His father was a farmer–turned–truck driver, and the family lived in Marche, a remote region of Italy between the Umbrian Apennine mountains and the Adriatic coast. When Trabocchi was a boy, his entire wardrobe consisted of three shirts and three pairs of pants. But the family never stinted on Christmas, and Trabocchi can remember the holiday meals of his childhood in detail.
“A few days before Christmas, we would go from farm to farm to collect the ingredients we needed from family friends, who would set aside food for us—from the mushrooms and the eggs for the lasagna to the pork rib roast,” recalls Trabocchi (an F&W Best New Chef 2002). “I was always the first one to jump into the car to go shopping.”