Ever wonder what our Bravolebs looked like before they were Bravolebs? Each Thursday, we'll celebrate #TBT and dig through the archives for a vintage photo from the past—or revisit a memorable moment from one of our shows—and share some back story on the picture. This week, we re-visit a childhood photo of culinary icon Tom Colicchio.
For numerous seasons of Top Chef, head judge Tom Colicchio has had a prominent role in deciding the fate of numerous eager, up-and-coming contestants. But, while Top Chef fans are accustomed to his sophisticated, bald look, in this vintage photo, we see Tom fishing with his grandfather whilst rocking a head of hair.
Fishing with his grandfather was just one of Tom’s family traditions that played a pivotal role in shaping his award-winning career. “I grew up Italian-American in New Jersey, and we made Sunday gravy—what most people would call marinara sauce—with meatballs and sausage. Every Sunday, we started eating around 4 o’clock. And in the summer, I would go crabbing with my grandfather. We boiled crabs and put them in marinara sauce to make crab gravy. There’s nothing like it,” Tom has said of his childhood.
"I also grew up with a love of food in the house, and one day I started cooking – with no idea of ever doing it for a living." He learned from his mother and grandmother and started cooking in a local seafood restaurant as a teenager. That stint was the first in a long line of culinary jobs that eventually led to Tom being named the nation’s top chef by the James Beard Foundation, an extremely coveted prize in the food world.
With Tom, his road to success all comes back to the love. "When you do something you love, chances are you may become pretty good at it. There were years when I spent 80 hours a week in restaurants and felt like I’d never worked a day," he said.