When Chef Gabriele Bertaccini talks, his passion for life—and food—is evident. He has an infectious enthusiasm for savoring and enjoying, and for wanting to make those around him happy.
Many in the Valley know Chef Gabe, who moved here from Florence, Italy 15 years ago. His legendary company Culinary Mischief—six courses, six wines, 30 people, roving locations—was the original underground dining experience, and a coveted one.
He later launched Il Tocco Food, a culinary experience company in Phoenix, Los Angeles, London and Florence, now called Gabriele Bertaccini Experiences.
Bertaccini honed his skills at well-known restaurants in Florence and Paris; was the Culinary Head Chef for a well-known royal family in Italy; cooked for former presidents of the United States, famous sports stars, TV hosts and singers; and more.
Now, his passion for both food and people has taken him in a new direction—television star. He appears, along with event designer Jeremiah Brent and fashion designer Thai Nguyen, on Netflix’s Say I Do, which released eight episodes this summer.
The reality show follows a groom as he proposes to the love of his life—and the couple then has their dream wedding within a week with the help of the trio of experts (Bertaccini, of course, creates the menu and caters the event). The couples all have obstacles that they’ve overcome.
“I love being able to hear and learn about the couples’ story,” Bertaccini says. “I think nowadays we live in an exceptionally difficult time where everybody wants to talk and nobody wants to listen, and I feel there is a need for listening, and to sit down and hear other’s people’s stories.
“These couples have gone through so much, and to be able to give them the gift to not worry, and the gift of being able to say, ‘I hear you, I listen to you, I see you, and please trust me, I know that you are in a horrible place and you’re opening up about your story, and I’m going to take it, I’m going to keep it, and then I’m going to create something magical out of it.’ That was, to me, what really got me connected to the project.”
After multiple people—none of whom were connected to each other—mentioned to him the that the show would be filming, he took that as a sign and went to the casting.
“It was a way for me to use my trade to give back,” he says. “I had the chance to do TV before but I didn’t do it, because it felt very self-serving. And I never wanted to do that. As much as I love being able to share with people, I don’t need to be on TV. I want to be if the end goal is something that is meaningful. And this was exactly that—using my love of my trade to develop [menus] using what I know about cooking and entertaining, and the art of dining and the spirituality behind food and wine, and using all that to tell a story—in this case, the stories of the eight couples. It just felt so right.”
When Bertaccini isn’t cooking or filming, he’s spending time with his two dogs (you can often spot them on the show as well!), sharing adventures throughout the world. He loves to hike and sail, and to appreciate the beauty of nature. He also loves to spend time with friends and family.
“I’m a social animal, as much as I also like to stay home by myself. I find so much comfort with people in my house, with a glass of wine, and some pasta or pizza, So, if I’m not in the kitchen professionally, I’m in the kitchen in my house—or sailing somewhere.”