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.