"Top Chef is a double-edged sword for me," he tells Esquire.

on Apr 29, 2011 - The Dish

Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio
Being a celebrity chef has perks, and Tom Colicchio is very familiar with them. There's the attention, the admiration, and, of course, the true sign of fame: quality time with Jay-Z and LeBron James.

"LeBron and Jay-Z did their 'Two Kings' party at my restaurant in L.A. this year," he tells Esquire magazine. "Last year they did it at my restaurant in Dallas. It's an interesting night. It's fun."

But Tom isn't letting his Top Chef celeb status go to his head, noting that being a chef and not a TV star is still top priority. "You hit a certain age and -- especially because of TV -- the young cooks coming up say, 'You're a sellout, because you're doing something other than what you should be doing,'" he says. "Top Chef is a double-edged sword for me: There's a whole group of people who will not come to the restaurants because they assume I'm not in them anymore, all I do is TV. They don't understand that we shoot [an entire season] in one month. It takes a month to shoot the whole show. I work every other day."

Not to say that his role in Top Chef isn't challenging -- or rewarding. "I got an Emmy. I mean, I've got an Emmy sitting on my shelf," Tom exclaims. "But I don't want to be remembered for that."

What else are you favorite kitchen kingpins up to? Follow the buzz with our Tweet Tracker.