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Chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio was born on August 15, 1962, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Tom Colicchio grew up cooking with his mother and grandmother in the kitchen of their Italian-American home. As a teenager, he taught himself the culinary fundamentals from the classic books La Techniqueand La Methode by French chef Jacques Pépin. His father suggested that Colicchio pursue food as a career. He got his first job at the age of 17 in the kitchen of Evelyn’s Seafood Restaurant in Elizabeth.
Throughout the 2000s, Colicchio expanded the Craft family of restaurants across the United States. His restaurants came to include Craftsteak, an upscale steakhouse; Craftbar, a more-casual food and drink establishment; and ‘wichcraft, a sandwich shop. He also became well known outside his dedicated foodie fanbase as the host of Top Chef, a popular Bravo reality show that pits chefs against one another in a cooking competition.
Colicchio also grabbed headlines in 2009 for a different kind of achievement in the kitchen: he saved the life of cookbook author Joan Nathan. By performing the Heimlich maneuver on Nathan, Colicchio saved the writer from choking on a piece of chicken at a food event.
In 2010, Colicchio was named the nation’s top chef by the James Beard Foundation, one of the most prestigious prizes in the culinary world. Despite his massive food empire, Colicchio still values simplicity. His favorite seasonings are salt and pepper, and his favorite kitchen tool remains the basic 10-inch chef knife. And his number one rule for a successful kitchen? “Clean up after yourself!”