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Rapicavoli Leaving 660 at the Angler's and Opening a Popup in February

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Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli formally announced that after his recently aired victory on Food Network's Chopped, his last day at 660 at the Angler's will be January 20. Come the first week of February, he'll open Miami's second popup, Eating House.

Before getting the scoop on his new endeavors, however, we wanted the details from his Chopped experience.

After watching the young chef's cool, confident composure on national television, it was clear who the winner would be by the second round. "It's important to have self-confidence and have a goal set in mind," Rapicavoli says. "I made sure to keep my promise and focus on what was in front of me. I called my mom the night before and promised her I would win, so I did."

But how can we forget the eccentric competitor, Fey, who danced in front of her pea soup before realizing five seconds before time was called that she forgot to put it on her plates? We asked the chef what is was like working alongside her. "I actually didn't have much of an idea of what was going on during the competition. I had so much tunnel vision throughout that I missed all the theatrics."

Rapicavoli says of his victory: "I went on the show knowing that I had to represent Miami, and competing against three chefs from New York, it was important to me to help give Miami the recognition it deserves." We couldn't agree more, chef! "[James Beard Award winners] Michael [Schwartz] and Michelle [Bernstein] have really paved the way for this city, and I hope that this win is just another step in helping Miami stay on the culinary map."

As for what's been up the chef's sleeve for the past few months, everything will start with a farewell to his three-plus-year gig at 660 at the Angler's. "I've seen the restaurant grow, and I've grown with it, but it's time we go our separate ways."

We were a bit surprised that 660 didn't host a watch party for his Chopped airing. Nonetheless, the chef was very happy to hear that 1500 Degrees hosted one for fellow Miami Chopped champion, Adrienne Grenier. Rapicavoli is in full support of more female recognition in the chef world.

So, what does a chef do with a check for ten grand? Partnering with his good friend Alex Cassanova, he plans to open a pop-up restaurant called Eating House, on Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables. They plan to keep the eatery open for six months, and depending on their progress, they'll re-address their stay in August.

Eating House's concept is essentially everything the young chef has been restricted from doing under the corporate umbrella. "Twelve to 15 dishes, three to five desserts on any given day... no style, theme or genre... everything is influential of the way I cook," Rapicavoli says. Close friend Eddie Fuentes, of the Fontainebleau, will spearhead the aperitif and cocktail program while Casanova handles the front of the house and Rapicavoli whips out the goods from the kitchen.

An admiral note to their restaurant plans: The new restaurateurs will collect donations for charities that will change monthly -- ranging from global organizations such as Share Our Strength to local ones such as Our Pride Academy.

Rapicavoli and Cassanova have no intention of opening the eatery for any other reason except to share good food. "I'm excited to not have to serve caesar salad anymore," he says.

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