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Top Chef secrets for a more organized kitchen: Tom Colicchio

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Tom shares his tips

SheKnows got some insider kitchen tips straight from the stars of Top Chef. We asked Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons to share their secrets for staying organized in the kitchen. Here, we’re in the kitchen with Tom Colicchio.
Tom Colicchio
Kitchen organizing secrets

Tom Colicchio
shares his tips

SheKnows got some insider kitchen tips straight from the stars of Top Chef. We asked Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons to share their secrets for staying organized in the kitchen. This week we're in the kitchen with Tom Colicchio.

Meal prep made easy

As a busy dad, Colicchio needs to plan ahead in order to get healthy and delicious meals on the table for his family. This comes down to having what he needs on hand, from tools to ingredients. "First of all, I make sure I have all the proper tools on hand, from utensils and kitchenware to clean-up tools," he tells us. "Once I know I have everything at my fingertips, I know I'll be able to start prepping and cooking stress-free. Then I move onto the meal itself and do my best to keep it simple."

Beyond making sure he has everything ready to go from a materials standpoint, planning ahead in terms of ingredients also really helps Colicchio keep mealtime organized. "If I'm cooking at home I usually limit myself to three ingredients. My braised red snapper is really a great example because it's simple and delicious and proves that you don't really need more than a trio of basic components — in this case, red snapper filet, lemon and red bell pepper," he says. "By manipulating whatever three ingredients you choose with varying seasonings and cooking methods, you can come up with so many different dishes very easily, and if it's uncomplicated, you're more willing to do it."

Post-meal clean-up tips

No one likes cleaning up after dinner, but unfortunately, no matter how many times you wish for a self-cleaning kitchen, you're going to have to do it yourself. Rather than do everything all at once, Colicchio suggests cleaning as you go, using a paper towel. When he first started working in restaurant kitchens, the staff were taught to use kitchen towels for handling hot pots and pans instead of potholders, and paper towels for everything else. Using a fresh paper towel turned out to be easier than relying on one dish towel the whole night (which would get pretty gross by the end of a shift), and also limits cross-contamination. The multiple uses in a professional kitchen translate to using paper towels at home for a lot of different things in the kitchen, he says, including cleanup. "Since I'm a fanatic about keeping things clean, I'm constantly wiping everything down as I go with Bounty DuraTowel, and probably go through close to a roll of paper towels every time I make dinner."

Staying on top of things

Between working, keeping the house clean and raising a family, it can be tough for anyone to stay organized, but it's not impossible. The key: having whatever you might need close at hand. "On the kitchen front, making sure I'm stocked up on necessary staples, from kitchenware and cleaning supplies to pantry basics, helps me keep things organized," Colicchio says. He also keeps a running list of what he needs with him so he can quickly pick something up if he's out. The Top Chef star also gets a little help. "Fortunately, on the home front, my wonderful wife, Lori, helps keep everything running like a well-oiled machine, and we're able to share parenting and housekeeping duties."

Must-have products

Want more?

Check out
Gail Simmons' tips for staying organized in your kitchen!

Colicchio shares his go-to products that help keep his home — and his life — organized.

  • iPhone: "My iPhone is a must because all of my to-do and grocery lists and recipe ideas are on file. My phone is like a large, evolving sticky note that I'd be lost without."
  • Paper towel: "Bounty's new DuraTowel paper towels are a must in my kitchen. I'm really zealous about keeping everything clean in the kitchen and use the paper towels to tidy up as I go. I can mop up everything from sticky sauce spills on the countertop to cleaning spatters off the fridge, which helps me keep my momentum going."
  • Easy cleanup items: "I also really love the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. That thing can get scuff marks off of nearly anything."

More home organization tips

Decorating Diva: 6 Steps to a cleaner, more organized home
Spring cleaning: Bathroom edition
Spring cleaning: Kitchen edition

Photo credit: Andres Otero/WENN.com
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