“The building is really special. As soon as I saw the space, I knew I wanted to be there,” said Chef Tom Colicchio, decked out in a sturdy apron and munching on raw baby carrots. He was talking about his soon-to-open restaurant at the historical Beekman hotel, Fowler and Wells. The restaurant’s menu will include dishes inspired by the turn of the century, when New York dining frequently drew characteristics from French techniques. Rather than creating a menu full of classic New York dishes (think Beef Wellington and Lobster Thermidor), he took a less gimmicky route, with classics rotating in and out.
A seasoned Colicchio restaurant diner might expect an understated, simple esthetic like a Craft or Craftbar, but Fowler and Wells will be more old-world, moodier, with rich fabrics.
“We wanted to let the space be the space, and put furniture in it,” Colicchio said. It’s even named for two phrenologists who used to work in the building.
The restaurant isn’t the only highlight. Tom is heading up the hotel’s room service and catering cuisine, too—a much larger project. But big endeavors are the norm for Colicchio. Between his restaurants, cookbooks, TV, movies and food policy, his influence extends far beyond chef status. So what does he want to do next?
“I started gardening years ago and can’t get enough of it,” he laughed. Not surprisingly, it’s full of fruit and vegetables. “Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, radishes…” he rattled off a produce section-worth of items. Colicchio credits fruit and vegetables for his recent 23-pound weight loss.
“I didn’t go on a diet,” he said. “I made small changes and my clothes stopped fitting.” Colicchio recommends substituting sugary snacks for healthier options, holding up his carrot sticks. And while he still indulges in an occasional bag of potato chips, he notes that it’s all about moderation.
“When I dine out, chefs will throw food at me,” he said. “You have to know when to walk away from the table.”
Main photo by Amy Sussman/AP Images for John Hancock