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One of the culinary world's most celebrated figures, Tom Colicchio returns once again as lead judge for Bravo's eighth season of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning culinary series Top Chef All-Stars, and also serves as mentor to the competing chefs on the series, guiding them through their various challenges.
Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, 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. Colicchio taught himself to cook with the help of Jacques Pépin's legendary illustrated manuals on French cooking, La Technique and La Méthode. At the age of 17, he made his kitchen debut in his native town of Elizabeth at Evelyn's Seafood Restaurant.
Colicchio then cooked at prominent New York restaurants such as 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 ten "Best New Chefs" in the United States and The New York Times awarded the restaurant three stars.
In July of 1994, Colicchio, along with 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 Colicchio was "cooking with extraordinary confidence, creating dishes characterized by bold flavors and unusual harmonies." His cooking at Gramercy Tavern won consistent recognition and earned Colicchio The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef-New York in 2000.
One year later, and one block south of Gramercy Tavern, Colicchio opened Craft. Soon thereafter, William Grimes of The New York Times awarded Craft with three stars naming Craft "a vision of food heaven." In 2002, Craft was awarded The James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant and Colicchio received Bon Appétit's American Food and Entertaining Award for Chef of the Year.
After opening Craft and Craftbar in New York City, Colicchio opened Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in July 2002. In spring 2003, 'wichcraft opened –- a sandwich shop rooted in the same food and hospitality philosophies as Craft. Today ‘wichcraft has 14 New York City locations, as well as locations at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and the Westfield Center in San Francisco.
Craftsteak New York and Craft Dallas opened in 2006, followed by Craft Los Angeles in the summer of 2007. Craftsteak at the MGM at Foxwoods and Craft Atlanta also opened in the spring and fall of 2008. Colicchio consults at the restaurants at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, Kiawah Island Club in South Carolina and Doonbeg Golf Club in Ireland –- all private clubs.
Colicchio has published three cookbooks to date. The first, Think Like a Chef, won The James Beard KitchenAid Cookbook Award in May 2001. His second cookbook, Craft of Cooking, was released in October 2003. A sandwich book inspired by 'wichcraft was released in March 2009.
Tom opened Colicchio & Sons in New York in January 2010. He improvises and explores with small-batch ingredients from the micro-producers and family farmers with whom he has forged decades-long relationships. Colicchio & Sons earned a glowing three-star review by Sam Sifton of The New York Times.
In May 2010, Tom was awarded The James Beard Foundation’s coveted “Outstanding Chef” award, the culmination of his 30 years of hard work in the restaurant industry. He most recently opened Riverpark in October 2010.