One of the culinary world's most celebrated figures, Tom Colicchio is a judge for Bravo’s "Top Chef," and also serves as mentor to the competing chefs on the series, guiding them through their various challenges. Tom was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he spent his childhood immersed in food and 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 seventeen, 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 opened Gramercy Tavern with partner Danny Meyer in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighborhood. In 1996, Ruth Reichl of The New York Times awarded Gramercy Tavern and Tom Colicchio three stars, raving 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, and after nominations for James Beard's Best Chef New York Award, he finally won the prestigious award in 2000.
In 2001, one block south of Gramercy Tavern, Tom opened Craft. Soon thereafter, William Grimes of The New York Times awarded Craft with its three stars naming it "a vision of food heaven." Tom continued to be celebrated in publications such as Saveur, House Beautiful, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire, GQ and New York magazine. His first cookbook, Think Like a Chef (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2000), won a James Beard KitchenAid Cookbook Award in May 2001. That 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 American Food and Entertaining Award for Chef of the Year.
Tom opened Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in July 2002. Tom is also consulting chef at Voysey's on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Tom's second cookbook, Craft of Cooking, (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2003), will soon be followed by a sandwich book inspired by 'wichcraft.
Tom and his restaurants are involved with a number of charities including Share Our Strength, City Harvest and Kids for Kids. Tom also serves on the Board of Directors of Children of Bellevue, Doctors of the World and Avero Inc., a provider of Web-based software applications for operations of the hospitality industry.