Top Chef Head Judge Tom Colicchio
Chef/Owner Craft Restaurant Group
Tom Colicchio spent his childhood immersed in food, cooking with his mother and grandmother. It was his father, however, who suggested that he make a career of it. Tom taught himself to cook with the help of Jacques Pépin's legendary illustrated manuals on French cooking, La Technique and La Méthode. At age 17, Tom made his kitchen debut in his native town of Elizabeth, New Jersey at Evelyn's Seafood Restaurant.
Tom later cooked at prominent New York restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill, Rakel, and Mondrian. During his tenure as executive chef of Mondrian, Food & Wine magazine selected him as one of the top 10 "Best New Chefs" in the U.S. and The New York Times awarded the restaurant three stars.
In July 1994, Tom and his business partner Danny Meyer opened Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighborhood. In 1996, Ruth Reichl of The New York Times awarded Gramercy Tavern three stars, noting that Tom was "cooking with extraordinary confidence, creating dishes characterized by bold flavors and unusual harmonies." Tom's cooking at Gramercy Tavern earned consistent recognition — after three nominations for The James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef–New York" Award, he won it in 2000.
In 2001, Tom opened Craft one block south of Gramercy Tavern. Soon after, William Grimes of The New York Times awarded Craft with three stars, deeming the restaurant "a vision of food heaven." Craft was awarded The James Beard Foundation Award for "Best New Restaurant" in 2002. That same year, Tom received The Bon Appétit American Food and Entertaining Award for "Chef of the Year."
With Craft and its casual sibling, Craftbar, established in New York City, Tom set out to expand his simple, elegant brand of cooking. He has since opened Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (2002), Craftsteak in New York City (2006), Craft in Dallas (2006), Craft and Craftbar in Los Angeles (2007; 2009), Craftsteak at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods (2008), and Craft and Craftbar at The Mansion on Peachtree Hotel & Residence in Atlanta (2008).
Tom opened his first 'wichcraft — a sandwich shop rooted in the same food and hospitality philosophies as Craft — in New York City in 2003. Today 'wichcraft has 11 New York City locations, as well as locations at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and the Westfield Center in San Francisco.
Tom has published three cookbooks to date. The first, Think Like a Chef (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2000), won The James Beard Foundation "KitchenAid" Cookbook Award in May 2001. Tom's second cookbook, Craft of Cooking, was released by Clarkson Potter/Publishers in 2003. A sandwich book inspired by 'wichcraft was released by Clarkson Potter/Publishers in March 2009.
Since 2006, Tom has been applying his experience and expertise to cable television as the head judge on Bravo's hit reality cooking series Top Chef. The Emmy-nominated show is now in its sixth season.
In October 2008, Tom opened Tom: Tuesday Dinner. The restaurant, open every other Tuesday, is the embodiment of Tom's earliest ideals: a signature place that defines him, small enough that he can cook straight from the hip, with his hands on each and every plate.
Tom regularly appears on local and national television shows, including The Today Show, The Martha Stewart Show and ABC's Nightline. He also continues to be celebrated in food and lifestyle publications. He consults at the restaurants at The Core Club (NYC), Liberty National Golf Club (Jersey City), Voysey's and Tides (Kiawah Island, SC), and Doonbeg (Ireland) — all private clubs.
Tom and his restaurants give back to the community by supporting charities including Share Our Strength, Children of Bellevue, City Meals-on-Wheels, City Harvest, Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and Healthright International. He lives in New York City's West Village with his wife, Lori Silverbush, and two sons.