News & Politics

Fabio Trabocchi: Open Up and Say “Mmmm”

The Maestro chef coins his own catchphrase.

TV chef Emeril Lagasse shouts “bam” every time he sprinkles salt. Rachael Ray gushes “yum-o” with every taste of her own food. The latest to get in on the celebrity-chef catch-phrase mania is Maestro’s Fabio Trabocchi, whose new favorite utterance is “mmmm.”

At a cooking demonstration at Dupont Circle’s FreshFarm Market, Trabocchi went public with his Campbell’s-soup-commercial takeoff. Trabocchi was there to demonstrate recipes from his new cookbook, Cucina of Le Marche, which explores the lesser-known cuisine of his home region of Italy. He served up warm samples of Le Marche–style risotto and chestnut soup and ordered everyone to “mmmm” along. Before long, the crowd was a moaning chorus with Trabocchi conducting.

Trabocchi says he fixated on the sound when he began feeding solid foods to his baby daughter, now five. He belted out an “mmmm” every time the spoon hit her little mouth. The chef calls it “a way of preadvertising” how delicious the food will be. It felt like watching a young Emeril try out “bam!”

No TV deal is imminent, but after his national cookbook release and a Best New Chef in America honor from Food & Wine magazine in 2002, Trabocchi’s “mmmm” seems to signal a desire to become a multimedia presence. He may one day be ready for that. For now, we hope he backs off the shtick and continues to cook those glorious dishes.

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