Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio received the James Beard outstanding chef award after being a finalist seven times in eight years, so he’s now actually the country’s top chef.
In their announcement, the James Beard Foundation said the award is given to “[a] working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals.”
The AP reports that Tom had “been a finalist seven other times since 2002, the same year the organization named Craft the nation’s best new restaurant,” although Tom’s Gramercy Tavern restaurant won “several Beard awards, including best chef in New York City in 2000 and outstanding restaurant service in 2001,” as did his cookbook Think Like a Chef, which won a Beard award in 2001.
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