Tom Colicchio’s Net Worth: The Top Chef Judge Makes More Than You Think

Opening up a restaurant is as risky an investment as it gets, but when it works, it really works. Just take celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, who owns Crafted Hospitality, a restaurant group that includes includes New York’s Craft, Temple Court, and Long Island’s Small Batch, Los Angeles’ Craft Los Angeles, and Las Vegas’ Heritage Steak and Craftsteak, all of which have made Colicchio a millionaire a coupe of times over. Not only is he the brains behind these eateries, but he’s also a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef — and the salary per episode alone is a pretty hefty safety net in case any of his restaurants go under.

The nice thing about Colicchio is that for as much money as he makes, he gives back through his charity and activism.  For example, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Colicchio was a champion for the restaurant industry, which suffered immensely as places were forced to close their doors in the name of social distancing. And he wasn’t just looking out for the Michelin starred joints or James Beard Award winning chefs — small mom-and-pop restaurants were also helped through The Independent Restaurant Coalition. Colicchio is an example of someone who puts his money where is mouth is as he encourages others to donate along with him.

Tom Colicchio is worth a pretty penny

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tom Colicchio is worth around $20 million. Much of that likely comes from his career as a restaurateur and chef, which also includes opening the ever-popular Gramercy Tavern in the ’90s. But let’s be real: restaurants drain more dough than they make sometimes, and it seems like he also likely pulls in a hefty salary from being on Bravo’s Top Chef. His per-episode salary isn’t public, but host and judge Padma Lakshmi reportedly makes $50,000 per episode, so it’s likely that he makes around the same. Her role is a little larger as host and judge, but given Colicchio’s celebrity, it’s safe to bet that there’s not too much of an income gap between them. 

As co-judge Gail Simmons told Vice, he takes his work and the show very seriously. “Tom is a chef-chef. He is not a TV chef. He’s a hardened, New York chef. He’s fiercely passionate about this industry and protecting it. And he has a stake in the game because he has restaurants and a reputation to uphold,” she said. 

It’s a good thing, too, because his restaurants, along with so many others all over the world, have taken a major hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Colicchio has been on the front lines when it comes to protecting small businesses and workers, both at his restaurants and others all over the country. 

Tom Colicchio is also an activist

In addition to lobbying Congress with the Independent Restaurant Coalition and imagining a “new normal” for the food industry, Colicchio is also an activist who fights for food equality as a member of New York’s City Harvest Food Council and in 2012, he started Food Policy Action with Ken Cook, which takes Congress to task when it comes to all issues surrounding food production and distribution. 

Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern told Vice of Tom’s fight against hunger, “A lot of my colleagues think people who are struggling in poverty are invisible, [that] they don’t matter because they don’t vote, they don’t have a Super PAC. One of the things that I appreciate about Tom’s approach to these issues is that it’s not just about making the moral arguments, but he helps raise money, calls attention to how people vote. And so there’s a kind of hard-edge pushback that he engages in for people who are not on the right side.”

So the next time you support a local restaurant or watch an episode of Top Chef, remember that Colicchio is way more than just some “celebrity chef.” 

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