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That Time Davio's Owner Steve DiFillippo Was Inspired by Whipped Cream-Covered Nipples

Culinary innovation can come from anything.

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Steve DiFillippo.
Steve DiFillippo.
Photo: Eater Boston/provided

Steve DiFillippo is the owner of Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse, a successful Boston-based chain with seven locations, including an Atlanta outpost. DiFillippo has been working in the food business for more than 30 years, is a member of the Massachusetts Restaurant Hall of Fame, and published his first book, It's All About The Guest, in 2013.

Also, Steve DiFillippo once received culinary inspiration from a pair of whipped cream-covered nipples.

As part of Classics Week, Eater Boston chatted with a few local chefs about their first restaurant jobsDiFillippo provided the following excerpt from his book:

"I was nineteen years old, a sophomore at Boston University, and working at Seaside. I was in the kitchen late one night when a gorgeous server named Maria sailed in. She was topless except for whipped cream she'd arranged to cover her nipples. She shook her boobs at me, causing the white stuff to fly all over and hit me in the face. 'What do you think of my Halloween costume, Steve?'

I thought it was pretty amazing that she even knew my name. I wiped my face and licked whipped cream off my finger. 'I, uh, I love your costume,' I said. And I did. It was a truly great Halloween costume.

'Cool,' she said as she waltzed away.

'You know,' I said to myself, 'I really do have a future in this business.'

Maria and I wound up going out drinking after our shift. Let's just say that my sexual education was enhanced that evening-and not just with whipped cream. When I woke up the next morning with Maria, who was even hotter with her uniform off, I thought once again, 'This is awesome!'

Not long after, I was going over our inventory with the chef, Ricky Gordon, when I thought about this incident. In a flash it hit me how we could save a little money on our food costs. 'Hey,' I said, 'we should make our whipped cream rather than use the canisters.'

'Why is that, Steve?'

'Because there's never any gas in the cans. People go in there and suck on them to get high. We wind up throwing the cans out. If we make our own whipped cream, we can cut down on waste.'

'Okay, great idea.'

My point is this: Although those breasts burned themselves into my retinas, my eyes have always been on the money. As a kid I dreamed of being more successful than my father, just as he had outdid my grandfather. I grew up with a comfortable, upper-middle-class lifestyle, with a nice house and a pool, and I always wanted to have something similar for myself. Looking around at the restaurateurs on my street, I realized that they all had pretty nice lifestyles, too. 'Geez,' I thought, 'this restaurant thing might make sense. If I do a good job and take care of people, I could make some good money someday.' I was never interested just in making money, but in my mind money has always been part of the endgame of owning a restaurant."

The moral of the story: Keep your eyes open. You never know what might lead to the next great idea.


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