'Top Chef' Judge to Appear at Winter Wine Festival
Top Chef's Tom Colicchio will be making an appearance at next year's Naples Winter Wine Festival, an annual fundraising event founded by the Naples Children and Education Foundation.  This will mark Colicchio's fourth time participating in the event's vintner dinners.

“[Tom Colicchio is] an extraordinary person whose culinary greatness is equaled only by his philanthropic spirit,” chef's committee chairwoman and festival trustee Shirlene Elkins said.  “Tom's reality TV show is such a big hit, we're hoping he'll arrange for one of the season's winners to join him in preparing a vintner dinner.  Our guests would love it.”

Colicchio is the head judge on Bravo's reality series, Top Chef.  The show, which is currently on its third season, subjects participants to different cooking challenges each week to gauge which one of them is the most deserving of the grand prize, which includes an Editorial Feature in Food & Wine magazine, a culinary tour of the French Alps and $100, 000.

Outside of Top Chef, Tom Colicchio is known as the owner of Craft Restaurants.  He has received several recognitions, including the 2000 James Beard Best Chef: New York Award and being named Chef of the Year by both Bon Appetit and the Food Network in 2005.

At the upcoming three-day festival, Colicchio will serve as the Chef de Cuisine, or honored chef.  Other celebrity chefs that are slated to appear are Norman Love, Michael Cimarusti, Damian Dulas, Jose Gutierrez, Lee Hefter, Christopher Lee, Tony Mantuano, Luciano Pellegrini, Thierry Rautureau, Julian Serrano, Ana Sortun, Frank Stitt III, Bill Telepan and Scott Warner.

The festival is scheduled to take place from January 25-27 in Naples, Florida.  In July, the festival announced it would host a Virgin Atlantic space trip with astronaut training.  However, festival chairman Don Gunther said recently that the space trip has been taken off the agenda, as “they're not ready for it.”

-Lisa Claustro, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Source: Naples Winter Wine Festival, Naples Daily News
(Image Courtesy of Bravo)