For Top Chef Tom Colicchio, the Simpler the Better
By Olivia Tacelli
Tom Colicchio is one of those extremely accomplished yet down-to-earth top chefs. Colicchio was born and raised in New Jersey around the home cooking of his Italian mother and grandmother. Perhaps best known as lead judge on Bravo TV's popular series Top Chef, Colicchio has been impressing people with his culinary arts abilities since the age of 17.
Colicchio's Rise to Fame
Using Jacques Pepins' La Technique and La Methode to teach himself to cook, Colicchio found work at New York restaurants like The Quilted Giraffe, Mondrian, and Gotham Bar and Grill. He was soon named one of New Yorks' top 10 "Best New Chefs" by Food & Wine Magazine, the first of many awards in his career as a chef and cookbook author (check out Think Like a Chef and Craft of Cooking).
In 1994, Colicchio opened the Gramercy Tavern with Danny Meyer, earning three stars from The New York Times and a James Beard Foundation Award. Then came Craft, also a three-star restaurant and James Beard Award winner. The concept behind Craft became emblematic of Colicchio's style and philosophy of food: its simple yet previously untried and (therefore radical) focus on the quality and preparation of individual ingredients, rather than the artistry of combining them. Craft's success inspired the opening of Craftbar, Craftsteak, and 'wichcraft, a chain of sandwich shops.
Advice from a Top Chef
Colicchio believes in hospitality. Not the same as good service, Colicchio believes hospitality is always being on the side of the customer, as well as treating your staff well. He also stresses good communication as key to the overall success of his restaurants. Despite membership in the league of world famous chefs, Colicchio doesn't encourage young chefs to seek fame. Colicchio believes young chefs should first take time to develop their own style and cook because of a love of food and a desire to share that love.
Opened in January 2010, Colicchio's latest New York culinary arts venture is the three-star restaurant Colicchio and Son's, a venue for small-batch ingredients from family farms and micro-producers. He also advocates healthy school lunch programs like the first lady Michelle Obama.
For those inspired by the work of Tom Colicchios', consider a New York culinary school--you can supplement your education by eating in some of the best restaurants in the world.
About the Author
Olivia Tacelli is a freelance writer specializing in all things culinary. She has been a chef and caterer for 18 years, and has run her own whole foods cooking business, The Olive Tree, for 8 years.