Tom Colicchio and Cal Ripken Jr. have the same style - but that's about it

Similar looks, different tastes

January 07, 2007|By Rebecca Logan | Rebecca Logan,Special to the Sun

To some people, the resemblance is uncanny.

Other folks just don't see it.

But whether it is his bald head, his piercing eyes or maybe a combination of both, there's just something about reality-TV star chef Tom Colicchio that reminds many viewers of one of Maryland's favorite sons.

"I've been told over and over again, `Hey, you look a lot like Cal Ripken,'" said Colicchio, the head judge on Top Chef, the Bravo channel's cooking competition show.

Colicchio said he can see where those people are coming from.

"It's funny, our hairlines kind of disappeared about the same time," he said.

Ripken - a former Aberdeen High School student and Baltimore Orioles legend - said he has never seen Top Chef but would like to meet Colicchio someday.

Both men were good enough sports to field a few questions (Colicchio by phone from New York and Ripken via e-mail) designed to seek out other possible similarities.

Tom Colicchio

The head judge on television's "Top Chef" is also an award-winning chef who has opened restaurants such as Gramercy Tavern and Craft in New York City. Born: August 1962 in Elizabeth, N.J. Describe your coaching style.

"In my kitchen, it is very supportive. ... I'm coaching from experience, but I don't want to just tell them, `Listen to me.' You have to gain respect. ... You have to have them buy into it and want to improve. Some people don't want to be coached. It's about gaining trust."

What's the No. 1 quality an aspiring chef can possess?

"Passion. Whether it's sports or cooking or anything else, ability can only get you so far. [Those who succeed] are the ones there after practice shooting free throws or ... taking extra swings." And the worst characteristic for an aspiring chef?

"A guy who is really good and doesn't practice." Other than your own, what's your favorite restaurant?

"I don't know that I have one single favorite restaurant. Maybe Michel Bras in Laguiole, France." What's your favorite sports team?

"I grew up a Washington Redskins fan, but don't watch much football anymore.

And baseball? All right, I'll put it out there. I was a Mets fan growing up as a kid. And for some reason I became an L.A. Lakers fan."

Can you play baseball?

"Funny story: There was a woman who wrote a book about a bunch of different chefs and somehow she got some of the interviews mixed up. It says in the book that I grew up having dreams of being a great baseball player and that I played in college. But that wasn't me. ... I played freshman year in high school. I was OK, never great."

Cal Ripken Jr.

The former Baltimore Oriole who played a record 2,632 consecutive games is a major force in Aberdeen though the Aberdeen IronBirds and the Cal Ripken World Series. Born: August 1960 in Havre de Grace Describe your coaching style.

"In all of our teaching, we live by the credo, `Celebrate the individual.' What this means is that everyone does things a little differently and there isn't just one way to have success, whether that is with hitting or, I would imagine, cooking." What is the No. 1 characteristic an aspiring ball player can possess?

"A love and passion for the game." What's the worst characteristic he can have?

"Indifference." What is your favorite restaurant?

"There are so many all across the country. Near our home is the Oregon Grille that I love, and out in Napa Valley there is a place called the French Laundry that is amazing. [My wife] Kelly and I also really enjoy Rosa Mexicana in Washington, D.C., and New York." What is your favorite sports team?

"Guess. Seriously, I am a hometown guy. I grew up loving the Orioles and still root for them as hard as ever. I am also a big Ravens fan and go to almost all of their home games." Can you cook?

"Not really. I make good pancakes. ... At least that is what my kids tell me."

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