'Say I Do's' Chef Gabriele Bertaccini — Good Food is Everything!

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday July 28, 2020

The newest binge-worthy reality show is "Say I Do" on Netflix, which premiered its first eight-episode season on July 1. The show draws upon a "Queer Eye" premise: three professionals — interior designer Jeremiah Brent, fashion designer Thai Nguyen and chef Gabriele Bertaccini — join forces to make a couple's wedding dreams come true... in just a week.

In that time the experts plan a dream wedding, with a focus on the couples story and the ingenuity of its "gay angels" (as Brent, Ngueyen and Bertaccini have been dubbed) in pulling off a wedding in just seven days.

The tatted, photogenic Bertaccini provides the culinary expertise for each couple. Born and raised in Florence, he started to learn cooking at 13 and attended the prestigious Buontalenti Institute of Culinary Arts and Management in his home town. He headed to Arizona for college where he studied journalism and public relations. Settling in Phoenix, he established Culinary Mischief, an underground dinner party concept that he expanded to other cities throughout the world. He followed that with Il Tocco Food in 2008 in California and Arizona — a premier catering company is known for authentic Italian food.

The social-media savvy Bertaccini dubbed himself as a Doggie Dad Aficionado on Instagram with a pic of himself on a beach with three of his dogs. He also recently entered into a relationship shortly before he started filming the series. And in the first episode Bertaccini opened up about his HIV diagnosis with hopes of decreasing the stigma around HIV and AIDS.


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EDGE spoke with the usual globe-trotting chef as he sheltered in place in Southern California.

EDGE: What was it like growing up in Florence?

Gabriele Bertaccini: Growing up in Florence, I felt like I won the lottery. I wouldn't have wanted to be born or raised anywhere else. It is one of the most beautiful cities in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Life there is very simple. It's really connected to our surroundings, our history, our culture, our community, and of course, food and wine. Those are all the things that I brought with me not only to the states, but to my profession as a chef.

EDGE: How did you discover your passion for food and cooking?

Gabriele Bertaccini: Again, living in Florence and being Italian, food is such an integral part of who we are. The act of cooking is a social occasion. It's where we take time to slow down and not only enjoy the food, but our friends and family. Over food is where we connect not only here, but around the world. I would say I was born with my passion for food. Food has really been connected to all of my happiest moments in life since I was a kid. I loved spending time in the kitchen with my grandmother. I knew at 13-year's old that my passion and heart were going to be dedicated to the love of food and wine.


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EDGE: How did you get involved with "Say I Do?"

Gabriele Bertaccini: Well, the show got involved with me. Like anything in life, you try very hard to get certain things. We are told we need to make things happens, to go get what we want. When we force things, they usually don't happen the way we want them too. "Say I Do" happened when I least expected it. It kind of fell in my lap. It was a project that I immediately knew that I was going to connect with. It is a show about love stories, and I think that really resonated with my love of cooking.

EDGE: Tell us what it was like working with Jeremiah Brent and Thai Nguyen. Was it instant chemistry?

Gabriele Bertaccini: We are three good friends who happen to be three gay guys who are really good at what we do. Thai does amazing things with fashion design and Jeremiah with interior design and me with cooking. I think that we all share the same passion for our craft, but also for helping others. I love how we bring people together and express our love for this beautiful journey of life. They both inspire me daily and are two amazing individuals who I am glad to call friends.

EDGE: What is the importance of good food at a wedding?

Gabriele Bertaccini: It's everything! Everybody remembers food. The dinner at a reception is a moment of celebration. The act of eating or gathering around a table is a very primal. It is an act that brings people together and builds a community. The dinner part of any wedding is vital. The menu should really show the couples story. It should reflect where we come from and our background, but always who we are as individuals and as a couple.


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EDGE: What did you learn about love while helping these couples with their dream weddings?

Gabriele Bertaccini: I learned that love comes in so many shapes and forms. Love is not a math equation. Love is not predictable. Love really takes a life of its own on. Being able to listen and learn from these eight fantastic couples and what love represents to them was a great opportunity that I will never forget. I also learned that we need to learn to love ourselves more. To be more open with yourself and who you are.

EDGE: Do you have a favorite couple?

Gabriele Bertaccini: It feels unfair to choose one couple over another one. Each couple really taught me something different. One story was not more important than another. They really all have a special place in my heart that I will carry with me for a lifetime.

EDGE: What is the one recipe that you couldn't live without?

Gabriele Bertaccini: I'll tell you, because I actually had it last night. I had a beautiful bowl of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It's basically spaghetti with garlic, extra virgin olive oil from my farm in Tuscany and a little bit of chili peppers. And of course, cheese sprinkled on it. It is really my favorite easy go-to dish. It brings me back to a very simple time in my life.


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EDGE: Do you find it difficult to stay in shape and being a chef?

Gabriele Bertaccini: Oh my God! Yes! I find it difficult to control myself. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. I go to bed thinking what I am going to eat for breakfast. My entire life is really dictated by the act of eating and what am I going to eat next. Luckily enough I have four amazing dogs and they keep me very active. I also love hiking and surfing. I love to spend a lot of time in nature.

EDGE: What is next for you?

Gabriele Bertaccini: I am not even thinking about the next thing right now. I am just enjoying this moment. I am excited that the show is out, and I can't wait for everyone to watch it. I am just thinking about what to eat next. Honesty, I am so thankful for this show and the amazing opportunities that will come from it. I do hope that there will be a season 2.

Season 1 of "Say I Do" is now streaming on Netflix.

For more information on Chef Gabriele visit, visit his website.

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