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Exclusive: Tom Colicchio Is a Top Dad

03/05/2010 at 04:00 PM ET
Douglas Friedman for PEOPLE for use on CBB

It would seem as if Tom Colicchio has everything a man could want.

There’s his business empire, which includes eight restaurants and the ‘wichcraft chain of sandwich shops, not to mention his role as head judge on TV’s Top Chef.

And when he comes home at the end of the day, it’s to a duplex loft in lower Manhattan, which he shares with his wife and two sons.

But there is one thing, Tom says, that he still longs for. “It’s hard to get everything done,” he says, “so a 36-hour day would be great!”

If Tom, 47, is feeling “dead tired” lately, it’s with good reason.

In August he and his wife of eight years, Lori Silverbush, 40, a filmmaker, welcomed son Luka Bodhi — just as Tom was preparing to launch his latest restaurant, Colicchio & Sons (which opened in January in New York City).

But it turns out the man known for being a tough critic on TV is a “mushy teddy bear” when it comes to family, splitting parenting duties 50-50, Lori says.

“I’m my own boss, so I can build my own schedule around the baby,” Tom explains. “Luka and I spend mornings together. We sit on the couch and play guitar.”

Adds Lori, “He’s not one of those dads where you worry he’s going to bathe the baby in boiling water. He’s got it under control.”

Click below to learn about elder son Dante’s scary arrival in 1993, and to see another photo.

Douglas Friedman for PEOPLE for use on CBB

That’s because Tom’s first go-round with fatherhood prepared him to deal with any parenting emergency. In 1993 Tom and his then-girlfriend, who was pregnant, learned that the baby was in distress; after an emergency c-section, their son Dante arrived — nearly two months premature and weighing only 2 lbs., 5 oz.

Dante spent two months in the hospital before coming home, and even then, “the doctors came to us and said he might be blind,” Tom recalls.

Today, Dante is a healthy 16-year-old and “great big brother,” Tom says. “The best thing about having a teenager and a baby: no sibling rivalry!”

“He’s a good kid. I was pretty wild growing up — thank God he’s not! Dante and I spend a lot of time just hanging out, watching dumb videos online, playing Xbox. And Luka is content to sit there on my lap, watching us.”

Despite this brotherly bonding — not to mention the restaurant he named after his boys — Tom insists he isn’t dreaming of his sons taking over the family business something. Instead his real hope as a father “is to raise children who go out in the world,” he says, “and do the right thing.”

Douglas Friedman for PEOPLE for use on CBB

Source: PEOPLE; March 8th issue

– Liza Hamm

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PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 3 comments

Erica on

Okay, this was an amazingly sweet article. On Top Chef Tom can appear a bit brusque but it’s clear that his heart is his family! ::thumbs up::

blackrose on

is there a reason why they waited that long to have a second child?!

Chris on

blackrose – The boys have different mothers.

I love the guitar-playing photo. They look so much alike!

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