In a revealing chat with ChefsFeed, Tom Colicchio discussed his thoughts on changing food policy, the toxic masculine culture of kitchens, and how he responds to social media trolls — and he has a lot of thoughts.
The Top Chef host resigned in January from Food Policy Action, the five-year-old nonprofit group he co-founded to help promote a healthy food system in America, and is getting more involved on the ground to affect change.
"My belief is that you can slow progress down, but you're never going to stop it," he told ChefsFeed. "It's a bunch of speed bumps... but you just need more people to just keep pushing. I think that’s happening."
He acknowledged that with age has come an evolution of what he'd like to do with food.
"My younger self probably wouldn't have done this," he said of his activism. "I was too focused on cooking and restaurants and didn't know if there was room for anything else. Obviously, I'm still into restaurants, and still in the restaurants, but, you know, you realize you can do more."
These days, he said he spends more time out in the real world as opposed to the virtual world of social media — though he does engage with trolls if he feels like a good message can be broadcasted in the process.
"I pick and choose what jack--- to respond to [on Twitter]," he said. "I'm looking for someone where I can, in 140 characters, both push the conversation forward and point out the absurdity of what they’re saying. Twitter is just a way to amplify a message... I still think at some point there's going to be a backlash against this sort of cold idea where your relationships are all through social media. You're still going to need some time across the table with someone. That's what restaurants should be about."
These days, he said that he prefers to stay home over going out, and revealed in the process that he has a secret garden.
"Nowadays it's more about bringing people around a table for me. It's not even about what we're eating — it's just about the fact that you can get people around and just act like adults and talk to each other. I cook at home constantly. I started gardening about four years ago and I’m just head-over-heels crazy about it. It's about 20 or so raised beds. All summer long I'm cooking stuff right out of my garden, and there's nothing like it."
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