The Chicago-based chef and restaurateur champions Italy, both at at his flagship, Spiaggia, and on Top Chef Masters. But he tells Kate Krader that among his 10 obsessions are Chinese dumplings in chile oil.

Courtesy of Sanelli

1. Knife

"The bright green Sanelli knives from Italy are so comfortable, so easy to work with. I know Japanese knives are all the rage, but they don't do it for me."

2. Suits

"I don't wear sports jackets; I'm a suit guy. Zegna and Armani suits fit me well. And I don't stick with one color: I have black suits, gray suits, pinstripes."

3. Dumplings

"I've discovered a place called White Bear in Queens, New York. The dumplings in chile oil are one of the best things I've ever eaten."

4. Pepper-Rubbed Pork Sandwiches

"This recipe is from Molise, Italy, where my wife's family is from. Cooks rub pork with a local dried chile; I use Aleppo peppers instead and slice the pork for sandwiches."

Cy Twombly

Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

5. Cy Twombly

"My newest restaurant, Terzo Piano, is in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Cy Twombly was there for the opening of the wing. I love his paintings—the different colors he uses on a white background [like Untitled, 2001]. His pieces work very well in that wing; everything is white there."

6. Hometown

"I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It has a big museum complex now, with a great Civil War museum that I'd recommend."


© Getty Images

7. Tennis

"I like Novak Djokovic; he just plays so hard, and he's gotten so good. I've watched him creep up in the standings."

8. London

"Whenever we go to Italy, we stop in London and stay at One Aldwych; the lobby has great sculptures."

Barack Obama

© NBAE/ Getty Images

9. Barack Obama

"The president loves the wood-roasted scallops at Spiaggia. I heard he'd be at a Washington Wizards NBA game in DC, so we surprised him with some scallops. The Secret Service gave us a lot of instructions."


Courtesy of Ritmo

10. Watches

"Ritmo Mundos are incredible. Mine is 10 years old; I wore it on Top Chef Masters."

Video: Chefs Share Italian Recipes & Cooking Tips