Craft Restaurant in NYC has become the prime location for food lovers, and its top chef and owner, Tom Colicchio, is the hottest thing to happen to a kitchen since Jack Tripper closed up shop in the 70s. And Colicchio is not only top chef in the world of great food, he's Bravo's top chef on TOP CHEF!
YOU ARE BOTH THE HEAD CHEF IN THE KITCHEN CHECKING IN ON THE CONTESTANTS AND A JUDGE.... WHICH MEANS YOU CAN'T AND DON'T GIVE DIRECT MENTOR-Y ADVICE TO THE CHEFS. WAS IT CHALLENGING FOR YOU TO JUST BE AN OBSERVER IN THE KITCHEN?
Yes, because my first instinct would be to help the chefs – that's what I do in my kitchen. It's my job to mentor and work on technique. It's so frustrating to walk away. It's like Harold and the ice cream machine – I wasn't allowed to point that out. It's hard not to want to help them.
TWO OF THE CHEFS SEEM TO HAVE EVERYONE TALKING, TIFFANY AND STEPHEN. TIFFANY WAS CALLED OUT BY YOU FOR HER ATTITUDE A COUPLE WEEKS AGO. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HER SO FAR?
She's a strong competitor. I think her attitude adjustment worked a bit. The following week her attitude changed and softened up. She wants to win and has the skills to do it. It's a question of how far she can go. Respect the challenge, that's what it was about. There's a spirit to the game here and just like I ask my cooks to come to work every day ready to work, this is what she signed on for. She should approach each challenge that way.
AND STEPHEN IS ISOLATING PEOPLE LEFT AND RIGHT. WHAT ABOUT HIM?
He's kind of hated right now! I'm not sure if he realizes how arrogant he comes off. I do a recap of TOP CHEF on Tyler Florence's radio show on Thursday mornings and we take phone calls and everyone is asking about Stephen. When I was there in San Francisco, I didn't realize how he was coming off. Several of the crew commented that people thought he was a little jerky. I don't think it was the editing. He is more guilty of what he got on Candice about, being young. Emotionally he's much younger than she is. He's intelligent but his emotional quotient is a little stunted. People don't come to coddle the chef, the chef is there to coddle the customer. But he can cook, he's smart – I guess we've all gone through it. I was a chef at a restaurant called Mondrian in NYC when I was in my 20s. We had Nantucket Bay scallops flown in every morning and one day a woman came in and said, "There is no way these are from Nantucket." I sent the waiter back to her table with the FedEx slip from Nantucket, and she walked out and never came back. I thought I had to educate her, but I should not have challenged her. To see him constantly talk about educating customers, I thought that was my role but the truth is that people know a lot but they're adults and know what they want to eat. It's not your position to tell people how to eat or enjoy themselves and you see young chefs doing that all the time. When you have a collection of ingredients that are so out there or foreign, people stop coming. It's isolating. I don't care who it is. There are items on every menu that have broad appeal and people understand. You don't have to challenge people every time they have dinner. He'll realize it.