Tom Colicchio is a noted American chef best known for being the head judge on the reality television competition Top Chef, since 2006.
Colicchio, born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, spent his childhood immersed in food, cooking with his mother and grandmother. However, it was his father who suggested that he make a career of it.
Tom 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, Tom made his kitchen debut in his native town of Elizabeth at Evelyn's Seafood Restaurant.
Tom continued to cook at prominent New York restaurants such as The Quilted Giraffe (where after just four months he was promoted to sous chef), Gotham Bar & Grill, Rakel and Mondrian.
During Tom's 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, Tom, along with partner Danny Meyer, opened Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighbourhood. In 1996, Ruth Reichl of The New York Times awarded Gramercy Tavern and Tom Colicchio three stars noting that Tom was "cooking with extraordinary confidence, creating dishes characterized by bold flavors and unusual harmonies."
Tom's cooking at Gramercy has earned consistent recognition. After three nominations for James Beard's Best Chef New York Award, he finally won it in 2000.
One year later, and one block south of Gramercy Tavern, Tom opened Craft. Soon thereafter, in July 2001, William Grimes, The New York Times reviewer, awarded Craft with three stars naming it "a vision of food heaven."
His first cookbook, Think Like a Chef, (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2000) won a James Beard KitchenAid Cookbook Award in May 2001. This same year, Gramercy Tavern was awarded for Outstanding Service. In 2002, Craft was awarded the James Beard Best New Restaurant Award and Gramercy Tavern's sommelier won for Outstanding Wine Service.
In October 2002, Tom received Bon Appetit and the Food Network's Award for Chef of the Year in their American Food and Entertaining Awards.
In addition to Gramercy Tavern, Craft, Craftbar, and 'wichcraft in New York City, Tom opened Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in July 2002. Craftsteak New York opened in May 2006, followed by Craft Dallas in June.