How did Tom Colicchio develop a passion for food?
Growing up in an Italian-American household, food was always very important, especially around holidays. And it was required that we were at the dinner table every night. I think also seeing the way that my mother showered love and affection on us was cooking, and you saw what food was able to do.
And then I kind of fell into it. I found that I liked doing it. It was something that I enjoyed, this idea of starting with raw ingredients and creating something. When I was a kid, I did model planes and model cars, I think for the same reason. You get a bunch of parts and you put them together, and you have something. And that’s what cooking was. It was taking these ingredients and putting them together and making something, and then sometimes it tasted great and sometimes not. And you kind of worked on why. But it came very easy to me and I’m not sure why.
And so I was hooked from the very beginning. And I threw myself into it. I mean, I read everything I could possibly read, every magazine I could read, every book I could get my hands on about cooking, about food. I think I was much more up on what was going on back then than I am now. But it just became a passion at a very young age, with no intention at all of making a career out of it until my father suggested that I think about becoming a chef.
Around my friends I didn’t even talk about it. It was something I kind of did on my own. I was a closet cook, I guess. And then my father suggested that I started working in restaurants. We had a family friend and he got me a job at one of the local restaurants. And I found that not only did I love food, but I loved the atmosphere of the kitchen and the spirit in the kitchen. You had these guys and gals who would just come together every night to produce food. And I just loved the environment and loved what I was doing. It’s easy to be passionate about something when you love it. It’s not work.