Tom Colicchio spent his childhood immersed in food, cooking with his mother and grandmother. It was his father, however, 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 age 17, Tom made his kitchen debut in his native town of Elizabeth, New Jersey at Evelyn’s Seafood Restaurant.
Tom later cooked at prominent New York restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill, Rakel, and Mondrian. During his tenure as executive chef of Mondrian, Food & Wine magazine selected him as one of the top 10 “Best New Chefs” in the U.S. and The New York Times awarded the restaurant three stars.
In July 1994, Tom and his business partner Danny Meyer opened Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood. In 1996, Ruth Reichl of The New York Times awarded Gramercy Tavern three stars, noting that Tom was “cooking with extraordinary confidence, creating dishes characterized by bold flavors and unusual harmonies.” Tom’s cooking at Gramercy Tavern earned consistent recognition – after three nominations for The James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef-New York” Award, he won it in 2000.
In 2001, Tom opened Craft one block south of Gramercy Tavern. Soon after, William Grimes of The New York Times awarded Craft with three stars, deeming the restaurant “a vision of food heaven.” Craft was awarded The James Beard Foundation Award for “Best New Restaurant” in 2002. That same year, Tom received The Bon Appétit American Food and Entertaining Award for “Chef of the Year.”