Does Tom Colicchio think diners have different palates throughout the U.S.?
Not really, no. In New York, when Craft first opened, it was a concept people couldn’t get their heads around. [Craft allows diners to create their own meal combinations.] It was, not that they didn’t get it, but it was just a very different thing. It really wasn’t though, because if you go to a steakhouse, that’s exactly how you order. You order your steak and you order your sides. We were doing the same thing. We just wrapped it up in a fine dining package in New York City and it was difficult for people to wrap their heads around.
We opened [Craftsteak] in Las Vegas and we called it a steakhouse. It was pretty much the same concept, but we call it a steakhouse. And guests think, “Oh, I get this, no problem.” And so we learned you have to package things correctly.
As a chef, people just won’t support you as much if you don’t live in that city. You really have to rely on tourists and things. Locals will not get behind you as much as they’ll get behind a local chef. And I understand that. It makes perfect sense. But, that said, the product is the same whether I’m there or not. It was Paul Bocuse who has a famous quote about this. When somebody asked him when he was traveling around, “Who’s cooking in your restaurant if you’re not there?” And his answer was, “The same people that are cooking when I’m there.” You train people.