For anyone that's been in the culinary industry or watched countless hours of cooking shows, you'll know that being a chef is no walk in the park. For those driven enough, it takes years of practice, long hours, little pay, and constant criticism to finally make it to the top of the pecking order in a restaurant. Yet, some of the most successful chefs in the world weren't satisfied with running or owning a few restaurants and took their talents to television. There, they became international stars, not just for their skills in the kitchen, but their personalities, which made them enjoyable to watch. These are the most successful celebrity chefs around.
Jamie Oliver Started As A Pastry Chef
Jamie Oliver was born and raised in Clavering, Essex, before receiving an education in London and becoming a pastry chef at Antonio Carluccio's Neal Street restaurant. While working as a sous-chef at the River Cafe, he caught the eye of television producer Patricia Llewellyn and in 1999, his show The Naked Chef aired.
Oliver went on to publish a cookbook, which became a No.1 UK bestseller and was featured in the documentary Jamie's Kitchen. On top of his philanthropy work, and other exploits, he has also established the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, and is currently worth almost $400 million.
Nobu Matsuhisa Is A Fusion Master
Nobu Matsuhisa is a Japanese chef and restaurateur that is known for his creative fusion of Japanese and Peruvian food. After graduating from high school in Japan, he began working at Matsue Sushi in Tokyo for seven years before being invited by a regular to open a Japanese restaurant in Peru.
However, due to a lack of ingredients in Peru, his fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine was born. He eventually found himself in Los Angeles where he opened up a series of Nobu restaurants around the world and has been featured in three films, earning hit a net worth of around $200 million.
Thomas Keller is a chef, author, and restaurateur that made a name for himself in Napa Valley with his restaurant The French Laundry. For his work, he has received numerous James Beard Foundation awards including the Best California Chef in 1996 and the Best Chef in America in 1997.
He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three-star Michelin ratings from two different restaurants. On top of the various successful cookbooks he has written he has also been a consultant on films such as Ratatouille and had other cameos. It's estimated that he's worth around $130 million.
Wolfgang Puck Learned From His Mother
Born in Austria, Wolfgang Puck learned to cook from his mother, a pastry chef before apprenticing under Raymond Thuilier at L'Oustau de Baumanière in Monaco and Maxim's Paris. He then moved to the United States at the age of 24, where he worked for two years at La Tour in Indianapolis before moving to Los Angeles and becoming a chef and part owner at Ma Maison.
His success led him to establish Wolfgang Puck Companies, leading to the birth of a series of restaurants, catering companies, and food merchandise. He has also been featured in numerous TV shows and films and has an estimated worth of $90 million.
Bobby Flay Dropped Out Of High School
After dropping out of high school at 17, Bobby Flay began working odd jobs at restaurants before attending the French Culinary Institute. After working as a chef for some time, he became executive chef and partner at Mesa Grill as well as helped open Bolo Bar & Restaurant.
Over time, he began opening up his own restaurants, such as Bobby Flay Steak, Gato, and Bobby's Burger Palace, which has 19 locations across the US. He also has several Food Network television shows such as Beat Bobby Flay, Throwdown! With Bobby Flay, as well as appearing on several other programs. He's worth an estimated $60 million.
Rachel Ray Is A Jack Of All Trades
Known for her "quick and easy" healthy 30-minute meals, Rachel Ray is a television personality, celebrity, cook, and author. She started her career in New York working at Macy's Marketplace before transitioning to Agata & Valentina specialty foods store.
She then became manager of Mister Brown's Pub at The Sagamore hotel and was a buyer at a gourmet market in Albany called Cowan & Lobel, where she credits her inspiration for 30 Minute Meals. It wasn't long until she became a hit syndicated talk show host with series such as Rachel Ray, 30 Minute Meals, Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels, and more. She has won three Daytime Emmy Awards and has a net worth of $80 million.
Emeril Lagasse Helped NASA
Emeril Lagasse attended Johnson & Wales University to study the culinary arts, where he graduated in 1978 and became the Executive Chef at the Dunfey's Hyannis Resort in 1979. In 1990, he opened Emeril's in New Orleans which was named "Restaurant of the Year" by Esquire.
Furthermore, in 2006, he was hired by NASA to help improve the quality of food for astronauts. He has opened up restaurants across the United States and has won a James Beard award for his mastery of Creole and Cajun Cuisine. He has also had a number of television shows on the Food Network and a net worth of $70 million.
Alan Wong is considered to be the wealthiest celebrity chef in the world, with an estimated net worth of over $1 billion. He is best known as one of the twelve- co-founders of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, a company that was established to help demonstrate the locally grown ingredients and diverse styles of Hawaiian food to create a new American regional cuisine.
On top of his involvement in Hawaii Regional Cuisine, he also owns several other restaurants in Japan and Hawaii. He has also been featured on shows such as Top Chef and has cooked a luau at the White House for President Obama.
David Chang Knows His Ramen
David Chang was trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York in 2000 before working at various restaurants around the city. In 2006, he opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar in East Village, which eventually became a restaurant group which includes Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Mail Bar, Momofuku Ko, and more.
Momofuku Ko was awarded two Michelin stars in 2009 and eventually produced and starred in the Netflix original series Ugly Delicious. He has also appeared in several other television programs, garnering him a net worth of $60 million.
Everybody Knows Gordon Ramsay
Born in Scotland and raised in England, Gordon Ramsay's restaurants have been awarded a whopping 16 Michelin stars, and he holds seven himself with his signature restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, holding three since 2011.
He became popular outside of the cooking world in the 1998 show Boiling Point, and his fame only grew from there. Regarded as a reality television personality, Ramsay is notable for his brash language, hot temper, and pursuit of perfection. Over the years, he has been featured and starred in countless competitive cookery and food shows. In 2012, Forbes named him the 33rd highest-earning celebrity in the world with a net worth around $220 million.
José Andrés Likes To Give Back
At the young age of 15, José Andrés enrolled in culinary school in Barcelona, and after serving in the Spanish military service, he worked at El Bulli from 1988 to 1990 before moving to the United States. He is the founder of the World Central Kitchen non-profit and owns a series of restaurants across the United States, bringing small plate cooking into popularity.
For his work in the food industry, he has been awarded two Michelin stars, a National Humanitarians Medal, and numerous other accolades. Despite his generosity, he is worth around $50 million.
Giada De Laurentiis Originally Studied Social Anthropology
After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in Social Anthropology, Giada De Laurentiis studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris with the goal of becoming a pastry chef. Upon returning to Los Angeles, she began working at the Wolfgang Puck-owned Spago, as well as other restaurants in the area.
She then went on to work as a food stylist and was approached by the Food Network after seeing one of her pieces in Food & Wine magazine in 2002. Today, she is the host of Food Network's Giada at Home and frequently appears on the station's other shows. She has accumulated a wealth of around $30 million.
Vikram Vij Brought The Tastes Of His Home Country To Canada
Vikram Vij is an Indian-born Canadian chef, cookbook author, and television personality. With his ex-wife Meeru Dhalwala, he is the co-owner of the Indian cuisine restaurants Vij's Restaurant and Rangoli Restaurant located in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also personally owns My Shanti, a restaurant in South Surrey, British Columbia.
Back in 2014, Vij was announced as the new "dragon" investor on the Canadian reality television program Dragon's Den in its ninth season. He is also a verified sommelier with a net worth of around $50 million.
Charlie Ayers Fed Thousands At Google
Charlie Ayers began his professional career in New Jersey working for Hilton Hotels, eventually leaving to attend culinary school in Providence, Rhode Island, at Johnson & Wales University. He worked at several restaurants in the region before eventually moving to California.
However, Ayers is best known as serving as the former executive chef for Google, which was highly publicized. When he left Google in 2006, he and his team of five chefs and 150 employees were serving 4,000 lunches a day and dinners across ten cafes on the campus.
Guy Fieri Is The Mayor Of Flavortown
After selling pretzels from his "Awesome Pretzel" cart as a child, Guy Fieri went abroad to France, where he developed an interest in cooking. Returning to the United States, Fieri attended college and began working in the restaurant industry. Today, he co-owns three restaurants in California and licenses his name to restaurants in three other states.
Known as one of the biggest food television personalities in the world, Fieri hosts several series on the Food Network and is described as "the face of the network." He's also credited with showing the wide variety of food throughout the United States to the world.
Ina Garten Was Never Formally Trained
A former staff member of the White House Office and Management Budget Ina Garten's mother-in-law bought her a subscription to the Time-Life cookbook series, which influenced her to start cooking. Over the years, she relied on her own taste and feedback from friends to refine her recipes and skills while being mentored by Eli Zabar and Martha Stewart.
Her career in food started with her gourmet store Barefoot Contessa before writing cookbooks and starting her own line of cooking products. Today, she is the host of the Food Network show Barefoot Contessa and has a net worth of around $50 million.
Rick Bayless Is An Oaklahoma Boy With A Love For Mexican Food
Rick Bayless was born into a food-oriented family, learning the basics of cooking at a young age. After doing doctoral work in anthropological studies at the University of Michigan, Bayless and his wife moved to Mexico, where he wrote his first book Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico.
In 1987, he opened his first restaurant with his wife called Frontera Grill, slowly building his brand with more restaurants, food products, and TV appearances. He is commonly known for his PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time and has a net worth of $30 million.
Levi Roots Is The King Of Sauce
Levi Roots is a man of many talents being a British-Jamaican chef, reggae musician, television personality, and businessman. His impressive wealth of around $45 million is mostly attributed to his world-famous Reggae Reggae Sauce.
Roots began selling his sauce at small food trade shows in the United Kingdom and the Nottingham Hill Carnival, before making his big break on the UK reality series Dragon's Den. After the show aired, Reggae Reggae Sauce was available in over 600 supermarkets across the UK, earning Roots a net worth of $45 million.
Marco Pierre White Was The First "Celebrity Chef"
Marco Pierre White left high school with dreams of becoming a chef with zero qualifications and began training at Hotel St George in Harrogate and the Box Tree. With nothing to his name he moved to London and began classical training as a commis with Albert and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche.
Identified as the first to be called a "celebrity chef, at the age of 32, he became the youngest and first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. Among his other feats, he has also trained notable chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Curtis Stone, Mario Batali, and more.
Ree Drummond Started Off With A Blog
Ree Drummond's career with food began after she began a blog about what life was like homeschooling and living on a ranch. It was during that time she posted her first recipe "How to Cook a Steak," which quickly established her as a successful blogger and food photographer.
Using her popularity, she eventually scored her own television show titled The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network in 2011. Since then, she has appeared on several shows such as Good Morning America, The Chew, and more. She has also been featured in several publications. Altogether, she's worth around $50 million.