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    A Heroic Turn for Top Chef's Tom Colicchio

    Top Chef, Tom Colicchio Bravo Photo: Virginia Sherwood

    While most celebs were spending the days leading to the inauguration partying around Washington, D.C., Top Chef chieftain Tom Colicchio was busy saving lives.

    The reality-show judge and all-star restaurateur came to the rescue of a fellow foodie Monday night at the Art. Food. Hope benefit. The event, which featured attendees like Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Rachel Maddow, was hosted by cookbook author Joan Nathan (The New American Cooking).

    As originally reported on the Internet Food Association blog, Colicchio was cornered by Top Chef fans peeved by last week's elimination, when another famed chef, Alice Waters, frantically began calling for help. Nathan was choking on a piece of chicken.

    And that's when Colicchio sprang into action.

    He deftly performed the Heimlich maneuver, dispatching the chicken and saving Nathan.

    "I did what anyone else would have done and was just happy to be there," Colicchio tells E! News. "I'm thrilled Joan's well."

    Now maybe that will get those Top Chef whiners off his back. (But let's face it: Leah, not Ariane, deserved the boot.)

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