As a chef and restaurateur, Top Chef judge and mentor, and food activist, Tom Colicchio brings heart to everything he does. And because of a restaurant empire that stretches across the country, from New York City (Craft) to Las Vegas (Craftsteak), folks all over can taste the love. Now, he’s officially adding Miami Beach to his roster. Known for his elegant farm-to-table concepts, the five-time James Beard Award-winning chef’s latest spot in the tropics will be no exception. Conceived by renowned studio designer Meyer Davis, the new kitchen will be located in the heart of Miami Beach at 1 Hotel South Beach (opening February 2015). Given 1 Hotel’s emphasis on environmental sustainability, Colicchio says it was an easy fit. We took a few minutes of his time to talk about the fresh partnership, the new season of Top Chef, giving back and making heat in the Miami dining scene.
When did you discover your passion for food and cooking?
I spent a summer working as a short-order cook at my parent’s swim club. I still contend that it was the best job I’ve ever had.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to cooking?
Keep it simple. I find inspiration from the natural beauty of the ingredients I’m working with.
What would be your ideal meal?
Anything picked fresh out of my garden!
What’s your staple dish for family and friends at home?
My staple dish would be something simple and delicious, again preferably from my garden.
You’ve traveled everywhere. What are your favorite cities for food?
I’ll let you know when I find it. I usually manage to eat pretty well.
What about Miami? Any places you love so far?
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is my go-to restaurant in Miami. Michael’s is also all about using locally grown food, too.
What do you want people to know about your restaurant in Miami?
We’ve looked at Miami for a while and this was just the perfect opportunity with a great new property, the 1 Hotel South Beach. We thought the ethos of the brand fit our approach to food. The specifics of the concept are still taking form, but you can expect a lot of grilled seafood.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at one of your restaurants or filming Top Chef?
Play guitar. And fish. I wish I had more time to do both.
You’re known for being a food activist. What’s on your agenda these days?
I’ve been focusing on creating a better food system for everyone through my work with Food Policy Action. My wife, Lori [Silverbush], is also launching a major campaign around her documentary A Place at the Table to end hunger in the U.S.
Can you give us a glimpse of what we can expect for Season 12 of Top Chef?
Each season is special for their own reasons. Season 12 was filmed in Boston, so you can look forward to challenges that incorporate the many historical elements that city has to offer.