Tom Pizzica Bio

Marianito's Extreme Mexican Grill, San Antonio, Texas, September 23, 2010. Photograph by Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Photo by: Darren Carroll

Darren Carroll

Marianito's Extreme Mexican Grill, San Antonio, Texas, September 23, 2010. Photograph by Darren Carroll/Getty Images

In August 2010, Tom Pizzica finished among the final three contestants on season six of Food Network Star.

With his “Big Chef” personality and 15 years experience working in restaurant kitchens, Tom gives “outrageous” a whole new meaning as he hits the road to uncover the most jaw-dropping, eye-popping, occasionally heart-stopping foods on his primetime Food Network show, Outrageous Food.

Originally from West Chester, Penn., Tom’s curiosity for cooking began at an early age. He learned to cook from his mother — who he considers the biggest influence in his life — by helping her in the kitchen. With his mother working long hours, Tom often came home from school and helped to prepare meals for his siblings. He even remembers sending away the UPC labels of cereal boxes to receive his first cookbook. After attending private Catholic school through 12th grade, Tom enrolled at George Washington University in 1996 and graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology.

Tom’s 15 years of working in restaurant kitchens began in high school when he got a job as a dishwasher at a local Italian restaurant. He then worked as a line cook at a steakhouse in Arlington, Va., during college and as a cook at a small French restaurant back home after graduating. During one of several other Pennsylvania restaurant jobs, Tom met his now-wife, Rachel, when she was a hostess and he was a server/line cook at a steakhouse. In hopes of building his culinary career and broadening his horizons, Tom moved to San Francisco in 2003 and enrolled in the California Culinary Academy, which he calls “the best decision of his life” since it solidified his commitment to cooking. Diligent to get hands-on experience, he immediately began working as a line and prep cook at Bambuddha Lounge under then Executive Chef Joe Bosworth who became one of Tom’s mentors. He graduated culinary school with an Associate of Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts in 2004. Tom then began working as a line cook at Wolfgang Puck’s San Francisco restaurant, Postrio, and simultaneously as a breakfast cook at Campton Place Hotel. Meanwhile, his mother and stepfather retired in Maryland and bought a 100-year-old historical hotel in Chestertown called The Imperial Hotel. In May 2006, at the age of 28, Tom moved to Maryland and served as executive chef for the hotel’s restaurant, The Front Room, for three years. There, Tom developed his culinary point of view and focused his efforts on bringing a new food vision to this community. In July 2009, Tom decided he wanted to be back in San Francisco to expand his experience and culinary career. He drove cross country with a friend, proposed to Rachel, and ended up applying for Food Network Star shortly thereafter.

A die-hard Philadelphia sports fan and music lover, Tom currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, Rachel, who owns a successful local flower shop.

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Marc Murphy Bio

Ask Chef Marc Murphy where he grew up and he'll fire off a list of cosmopolitan destinations — Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington, D.C., Rome and Genoa — "and that's before I turned 12," he’ll explain. This dizzying list of hometowns served as an excellent education in French and Italian cuisine, though as a teenager this was not his first passion. When the reality hit that he didn't have the funds to become a professional racecar driver, Marc followed his brother to the Institute of Culinary Education. After graduation he apprenticed at restaurants in France and Italy before returning to New York, where he landed a job as a line cook at Terrance Brennan's Prix Fixe. He stayed there for almost two years, working his way through every station in the kitchen and forging a professional bond with Brennan’s Sous Chefs Joseph Fortunato and David Pasternak. Eager to return to Europe, Marc flew to Paris and landed a position at the one-star Le Miraville, where he stayed for one-and-a-half years. Afterward, he staged at the famed Louis XV in Monte Carlo, where Executive Chef Alain Ducasse was so impressed with Marc's skills that he personally made arrangements for him to work with Sylvain Portay at Le Cirque once he returned to the States. Marc still considers Portay to be his greatest teacher. "Sylvain was above all concerned with coaxing out the most-vibrant, interesting flavors any ingredient had to offer, yet he insisted on minimal manipulation," he recalls. Following Le Cirque, Fortunato tapped him to work as a sous chef at Layla, Drew Nieporent's Middle Eastern fantasy in Tribeca, where he met consultant Georges Masraff. When Masraff joined forces to open Cellar in the Sky at Windows on the World, he recruited Marc to serve as executive chef. After receiving critical acclaim, including a two-star review from The New York Times, Marc headed uptown to serve as executive chef of La Fourchette, where NYT critic Ruth Reichl awarded him another glowing two-star review, citing his "open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad ... looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir." In March 2004 Marc opened his first solo enterprise with Landmarc [Tribeca], which won rave reviews both for its eclectic French and Italian menu as well as its highly untraditional wine list. Following its success, Marc opened Ditch Plains in the West Village in 2006 serving casual, beach-style cuisine such as lobster rolls, fish tacos and the infamous ditch dog, as well as other comfort food favorites. In 2007 Marc was given the opportunity to open another Landmarc restaurant in the pres­tigious Time Warner Center, where he brought his bistro-style cuisine midtown. In October 2013 Marc opened Kingside at the Viceroy New York hotel on New York's iconic West 57th Street, serving his interpretation of New American cuisine. Marc's restaurants now fall under the Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy name, where he acts as executive chef and owner. In addition to the restaurants, Marc also heads up the company's catering division, Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, where his signature style of accessible contemporary cuisine transcends the boundaries of what is offered in his restaurant locations. Today Marc's involvement in the industry moves beyond the restaurants as well, with a regular role as a judge on Food Network's top-rated hit Chopped as well as appearances on other hit series such as Guy's Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay and Worst Cooks in America. Marc also appears on The Rachael Ray Show and The Today Show, among others. He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp, as well as a member of the Food + Finance High School's Industry Advisory Board, a member of the Leadership Council for Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign and the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength's Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. In 2012 Marc joined the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States. Marc's debut cookbook, Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking, was released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2015.

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