Secrets of Top Chefs: How to Prepare Your Kitchen

From his own restaurant, Fabio shows off professional techniques to help the home cook. One great trick to get you ahead of schedule is to batch-cook, which Fabio proves with his easy Italian pudding -- a delicious and classic panna cotta.


  • Pre-cook any sauces or components that can stand up to a reheat.

  • Chop, dice, grate, or otherwise prepare every ingredient before you start assembling the plate. You can prep and store veggies for later use.

  • Batch cook ahead. Cold desserts are great for this. Easy puddings can be prepared in the same dish you serve them in for maximum efficiency.

Easy Italian Pudding (Panna Cotta)

Recipe by Fabio Viviani

Yield: 6 servings


1 ½ cups whole milk

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

zest of 1 lemon

1 vanilla bean, split in half, with seeds scraped and pod reserved

4 teaspoons unflavored, powdered gelatin

12 strawberries, quartered

Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling


In a large saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla (paste AND pods), and whisk until blended.

Bring to a light boil, just until tiny bubbles form around the perimeter.

Remove from heat, and add gelatin to the saucepan; allow to soften for about 10 minutes (the gelatin will be in soft clumps).

Whisk again until gelatin is fully dissolved.

Return mixture to the stovetop and cook over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Discard vanilla bean pods.

Equally divide the pudding into 6 serving glasses. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours.

When the panna cotta is set and ready to serve, top each portion with 8 strawberry slices. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.