"Many top chefs have discovered some surprisingly tasty ways to keep the pounds at bay. [Their] tantalizing suggestions [are] put forth in Smart Chefs Stay Slim, a new book detailing the eating strategies of today’s culinary superstars." -- OPRAH.COM

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Entries in Tom Colicchio (3)


10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Love Your Time in the Kitchen

A little something different on the 10-day countdown, for the holiday. One point that several chefs made in talking about eating well was the importance of cooking for yourself, rather than relying too much on take-out or processed convenience foods. You can control the ingredients, the methods, and you are unlikely to hide duck fat or loads of butter from yourself. The good news is that most restaurant chefs don't cook at home the way they do at work. Top Chef's Tom Colicchio, chef-owner of Colicchio & Sons and the Craft restaurants, eats very simply at home, and will sometimes (as we all do, I think) toss pasta and vegetables in the same pot, just to save a washing-up step. Even those of us who cook rarely under normal circumstances will go all-out on a holiday, and Colicchio is no different. Here, in an excerpt from Smart Chefs Stay Slim, he describes a once-a-year family feast. The notion isn't to imitate this major undertaking, but to be reminded of the pleasure cooking can be.


For Christmas Eve, Colicchio has his family over, a dozen or so guests, and prepares a traditional Italian feast of thirteen fishes.“My grandmother used to do it, and I took it over. It’s not thirteen dishes, just thirteen fish. I do fritto misto, little whitebait and Nantucket bay scallops; sole with lemon, fennel, parsley, capers, red onion sliced really thin; then a crudo of tuna with a true vinaigrette and lardo; grilled sardines with a sweet-sour onion-and-raisin relish; a raw hamachi with a preserved lemon vinaigrette; salt cod, steamed and baked, with olive oil, parsley, garlic; a beet salad with anchovies and artichokes and celery, hot cherry peppers, olive oil, parsley, garlic; then we do cacciucco [an Italian fish stew; he uses squid, clams, tomatoes], roast cod with preserved lemon and olives, and pasta.”Off-duty chef Colicchio. (photo via the kitchn)

Phew. If you’re planning to cook that much, you had better have a good time doing it, and Colicchio does. “I do it all myself. Well, I cheat a little: I have the fish filleted at the restaurant.”  (Note: This is not cheating; you do not have to fillet your own fish.) “I wake up in the morning, get a pot of coffee going, put music on. I start cooking at ten in the morning and don’t stop until the guests walk in. I don’t rush. I enjoy it.”
This is welcome advice: Enjoy wonderful food, including the process of putting it together, especially for loved ones.

From Smart Chefs Stay Slim: Lessons in Eating and Living from America's Best Chefs by Allison Adato. copyright 2012, Penguin/NAL.


3 Qs for: Tom Colicchio

A New Jersey native, a boxing fan, and an erstwhile vegetarian-for-a-year, Tom Colicchio is the chef-owner of the Craft restaurants and Colicchio & Sons (of which he has three: a teen, a toddler and an infant) and the head judge on Top Chef.


Q: Do you ever modify a dish for yourself to make it lighter or what people think of as "diet food"?

TC: I don't understand "diet." You can eat anything. Maybe I'm not going to roast a chicken with butter, but I'll use olive oil. I think it's about eating less. Have a smaller portion, cut out extra fat: I've stopped eating butter on bread and putting milk and sugar in my coffee. I'm eating fewer white things, but I haven't cut them out.

Q: Why did you take up boxing?

TC: I've been a boxing fan my entire life. My parents were both fight fans. I have to work out, or I have a tendency to put on weight. I was a competitive swimmer from 10 to 17. In my 20s I ran 4 to 10 miles a day. I used to play a lot of basketball until I broke my elbow on the playground in Battery Park. Boxing is a great workout, but you're [also] learning something. It's like a little chess match.

Q: What's always in your home kitchen?

TC: My wife does the shopping. We shop online and also get a delivery of organic vegetables every week, so whatever shows up, I cook with. If I'm catching fish, there's fish. There's always cheese, olives. It's not that exciting. There's no time at home for fancy food. Last night I got home from work and had cheese, crackers and Fresca. I love Fresca.



Memories: Guacamole at the graduation party

I'm at home in New York, listening to Jonathan Schwartz's radio tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, who died earlier this week. A little "Chorus Line," a little nobody-does-it-better Carly Simon, and of course Barbra singing "The Way We Were."

For some reason, I'm reminded of avocado. When you grow up in Southern California, as I did, there are a lot of avocados in your recollections. I'm thinking this time of guacamole, which I think we consumed by the gallon in high school, at a graduation party which was hosted by one of my classmates, David Liebling, at the Malibu beach home of his uncle, who happened to be Marvin Hamlisch. I recall a rather clique-fractured class coming together in a beautiful location, and playing games on the beach for a late afternoon and evening, before we went off on our ways in the world.

When I first moved to New York City in the last millennium, it was hard to find a good avocado; now it's no problem.  I like them in the morning spread on toast instead of butter. (So does Tom Colicchio, for those keeping track of the Smart Chefs connection here...)  And I still love guacamole. Here's my own recipe:


3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and roughly smashed

1 medium red onion, very finely chopped

1/2 tsp. chili powder (or to taste)

juice of 2 limes (or 1 lemon)Photo: "Live, Eat, Run"

hot sauce to taste (Tabasco works great)

generous sprinkle of sea salt

Combine everything, stirring until uniform, but still chunky. Taste and adjust seasoning and heat. Serve with raw vegetables -- red pepper strips, carrot sticks, jicama, etc. --  for dipping. 

(Yes, you can serve with chips, of course. But dipping vegetables is a way to keep this favorite in my life without making it a calorie explosion; plus I'm always looking for ways to get more vegetables into a meal or snack.)