About Tom Colicchio
Thomas Patrick Colicchio was born on Aug. 15, 1962 in Elizabeth, NJ. His childhood was spent cooking with his grandmother and mother, who managed a high school cafeteria. But it was his father, a corrections officer, who suggested he pursue it as a career. Colicchio turned to legend Jacques Pepin's French cuisine manuals La Technique (1976) and La Methode (1984) to master the art of cooking. Colicchio found his first culinary job at 17, working at Evelyn's Seafood Restaurant in his hometown. After moving to New York, Colicchio made the rounds working for various prominent restaurants, including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Rakel. At the age of 26, Colicchio became executive chef at top-rated Mondrian, a position that earned him a place as one of the top ten "Best New Chefs" by Food & Wine magazine in 1991.
In July 1994, the self-taught chef partnered with Manhattan restaurateur Danny Meyer to open Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan. The restaurant was an instant hit with critics and foodies alike. The New York Times awarded Gramercy Tavern a three-star rating and described Colicchio's culinary work as "cooking with extraordinary confidence." The influential Zagat Survey voted Gramercy Tavern "Most Popular Restaurant in New York City" in 2003 and 2005, making it one of the city's culinary institutions. The James Beard Award, often called "the Oscars of cuisine," also recognized Colicchio with the title of Best Chef-New York in 2000. The chef also won a James Beard Award for his published work. His first cookbook Think Like a Chef: The Craft of Cooking won the KitchenAid Cookbook Award in May 2001. Meanwhile, Colicchio met his filmmaker wife, Lori Silverbush, in 1994 while she was a waitress at Gramercy Tavern. The couple got engaged while waiting in line at the Second Avenue Deli in New York City and married in 2001 on a sheep farm in Martha's Vineyard. Colicchio, who had son Dante from a previous marriage, welcomed a baby boy with Silverbush in August 2009.
Hot on the heels of his multiple awards and Gramercy Tavern's smashing success, Colicchio branched out to open Craft in 2001, which The New York Times awarded with a three-star rating. Expanding his empire into one of the most successful and critically-praised culinary chains, his Craft family of restaurants - located in cities like Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York - included Craft, Craftbar, Craftsteak, and 'Wichcraft. Continuing his publishing success, Colicchio released his second cookbook, Craft of Cooking in October 2003. The chef also supported various charities throughout his successful career, including Share Our Strength, Children of Bellevue, City Meals-on-Wheels, The College Fund, Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Doctors of the World.
While Colicchio was well-known in the culinary world and for his philanthropic work, he had one place left to conquer: Hollywood. In 2006, the same year he severed ties with Gramercy Tavern, Colicchio joined the Bravo reality/competition series "Top Chef" as head judge. The show pitted amateur chefs in weekly "Quickfire" and elimination challenges. Colicchio oversaw the kitchen and mentored the chefs while they prepared for their elimination challenges. A panel of judges, which also included Colicchio and co-host Lakshmi, who joined the show in its second season, critiqued the food and eliminated one chef per episode. As head judge, Colicchio was stern, honest and fair, which helped secure a loyal audience for the show. Filmed in San Francisco its first season, "Top Chef" quickly gained steam and became one of Bravo's highest-rated series, with subsequent seasons being filmed in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York.
In January 2009, Colicchio proved he also came in handy outside the kitchen after successfully performing the Heimlich maneuver on cookbook author Joan Nathan. The latter was choking on a piece of chicken at a U.S. presidential inaugural event in Washington, D.C. when the chef came to the rescue. Colicchio unassumingly responded, "I just happened to be nearby," when asked about his heroic move. Meanwhile, Colicchio served as a commentator, but not judge on the spin-off "Top Chef Masters," where culinary greats competed in "Top Chef"-inspired challenges. He returned to the "Top Chef" kitchen for its sixth season, which was set in Las Vegas. Also in 2009, Colicchio shared an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Host For a Reality or Reality-Competition Program with Lakshmi. Season seven of "Top Chef" took place in Washington, D.C., and in the midst of that run, "Top Chef" bested other reality shows to win the 2010 Emmy for their stellar Las Vegas season.
|Lori Silverbush. Met in 1994 when she was waitressing at Gramercy Tavern; married in 2001, on a sheep farm on Martha's Vineyard|
|Made his kitchen debut in his native town of Elizabeth at Evelyn's Seafood Restaurant|
|Taught himself to cook with the help of Jacques Pépin's legendary illustrated manuals on French cooking|
|Selected by Food & Wine magazine as one of the top ten "Best New Chefs" in the United States, while working as the executive chef of Mondrian|
|Opened Gramercy Tavern in New York with partner Danny Meyer; served as co-owner and executive chef; sold his interest in 2006 and is no longer affiliated with the restaurant|
|Won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in New York City|
|Opened Craft restaurant, one block south of Gramercy Tavern|
|Published first cookbook, Think Like a Chef; won The James Beard KitchenAid Cookbook Award|
|Craft was awarded The James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant|
|Opened Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas|
|Opened the sandwich shop 'wichcraft in New York|
|Published second cookbook, Craft of Cooking|
|Co-host and head judge of Bravo's hit reality cooking series "Top Chef"; earned an Emmy nomination in 2009 as Host for a Reality/Competition Program|
|Nominated for the 2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program|
|Published third cookbook, 'Wichcraft: Craft a Sandwich into a Meal - and a Meal into a Sandwich|
|Was a consulting producer on Bravo's "Top Chef" spin-off series, entitled "Top Chef Masters"|