Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tom Colicchio – Chef, Restaurateur, Life Saver

It's no exaggeration to say that Chef and Top Chef judge, Tom Colicchio, saved the life of a food writer at a food event in Washington on Monday. And luckily, writer Ezra Klein was there to write about it for The Internet Food Association.

Joan Nathan , Tom C AND Ezra Klein were all at the Art. Food. Hope
benefit when Nathan started choking on a piece of chicken. Alice Waters screamed (to a room full of chefs and food professionals) if anyone knew the Heimlich. Tom rushed over. He performed the Heimlich maneuver and all was well. "I just happened to be nearby," he explained later. Wow, I don’t want to make light of the situation, but that is sooo hot. Apparently, Joan Nathan thought so too, when she said “He’s so strong.” She owes him a really good chopped liver platter or some awesome chicken soup.

She joins an interesting list of celebrities saved by the technique, including Cher and Goldie Hawn, according to the Heimlich Institute, which also estimates that over 50,000 lives have been saved since 1974 when Dr. Henry Heimlich first introduced the technique. Incidentally, it's also been used to save asthma sufferers in the throes of potentially fatal attacks.

I have 2 family members with first hand experience of Dr. Heimlich’s maneuver. Many years ago when we first lived in South Africa, we were thanking a friend’s mother for the use of a car. I brought her a lovely (or so I thought at the time) gift box of assorted chocolates and nuts. As we were chatting outside, she went in to answer the phone.

Moments later, she ran out, gasping for air. HER HUSBAND, in a panic, turned to FACE her, and started trying to use the technique. MY HUSBAND, in a split second, sized up the situation, ran over and, standing BEHIND her, used his fist and pushed in and up. A hazelnut popped out.

SHE was grateful…I was mortified…that my gift had caused such havoc. My friend reported that, for weeks after, her parents cooed at each other with renewed love and affection. She also mentioned that my husband had broken 2 of her mother's ribs. Apparently, that’s not at all uncommon and she was grateful to be alive to feel it.

The second situation came about when my father-in-law was on vacation. He was having a meal and suddenly he realized he was choking. I guess he was in a room full of clueless old codgers, so, thankfully, he realized he would have to save himself. He stood up and threw himself against the edge of the table (which is the alternate technique for self-Heimliching) and out popped a piece of food.

My husband’s, father-in-law’s and Tom’s situations all point to quick thinking and, more importantly, quick action. How would WE react in those situations? I’m certainly going to take a very close look at these instructions and this well-written description of the the Heimlich Maneuver, plus the video at the end of my post and keep them close by.

The other thing I’m going to do? Chew…really, really well.


we are never full said...

wow... i'm totally turned on by colicchio!? wtf? maybe on valentines day i should spice things up by asking my husband to give me the heimlich?

DebCarol said...

Yes . . . Colicchio Rules!! And thanks for posting the great sites for the Heimlich maneuver Sue - esp. the UTube one. By the way, more Top Chef news -- Stephen Starr - restaurateur from my hometown Philadelphia is going to be on Top Chef tonight!! Think he is judging the quickfire challenge. (well actually I live in the Philly suburbs but still a hop, skip & a jump from fantastic eateries)

Emily said...

I heard about this, but didn't know all the details.

WOW! That's impressive! I can't believe your husband saved someone's life. And who knew hazelnuts could be so dangerous??