These days, chefs seem to get more TV time than many actors, and more books published than most professional writers. While some are still toiling away at the oven, more and more chefs seem to be realizing that the quickest way to fame and fortune is to abandon the kitchen for the film set.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a few Michelin stars to your name first, as the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller have found out. If you want to find out which chefs have used their skills to their best advantage, read on for our list of the 20 richest chefs in the world.
20. Tom Colicchio Net Worth - $20 Million
Tied for 20th position is celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, a man who made his wealth as the founder of Craft and Colicchio & Sons restaurants (not to mention his numerous TV appearances as a head judge on Bravo's Top Chef and as a judge and main consulting producer for Top Chef Masters). He’s also the proud author of three well-received cookbooks, Think Like a Chef (2000), Craft of Cooking : Notes and Recipes from a Restaurant Kitchen (2003), and Wichcraft : Craft a Sandwich into a Meal--and a Meal into a Sandwich (2009).
19.Guy Fieri Net Worth - $20 million
Like our previous entry, Tom Colicchio, Guy Fieri enjoys a net worth of $20 million. His money comes from the three restaurants he runs in California, along with his numerous TV appearances on The Food Network.
Easily recognized by his bleached blonde hair and over-the-top personality, Fiery has been described by The New York Times as bringing an “element of rowdy, mass-market culture to American food television", which may explain both his enduring popularity as the “face” of The Food Network and his stacked bank balance. Fieri currently resides in Santa Rosa, California, with his wife Lori and their two children, Hunter and Ryder.
18.Mario Batali Net Worth - $25 million
Dropping out of the legendary Le Corden Bleu cooking school for an apprenticeship with London chef Marco Pierre White (more from who shortly) turned out to be the best decision chef, writer and media personality Mario Batali ever made. After learning his skills the hard way, Batali moved back to the US and began his journey to the top of the restaurant scene.
By 2016, he was at the heart of an empire of 19 global restaurants, and a hot ticket on every TV show going. A few years later, and it’s a very different story: after multiple accusations of sexual assault, Batali was forced to stand down from his upcoming TV appearances and sell the stocks in all his restaurants.
17.Rick Bayless Net Worth - $30 Million
Oklahoma native Rick Bayliss is best known as the star of PBS’s Mexico: One Plate at a Time, as well as the owner of a string of highly successful restaurants in Chicago, which include Topolobampo, XOCO, Cruz Blanca Brewery & Taqueria, Frontera Fresco, Tortas Frontera, Red O, Lena Brava, and Bar Sotano.
Since he took his first steps in the industry in the 1980s, Bayless has been honored with multiple awards and accolades, including Best New Chef of 1988 by Food and Wine magazine, Humanitarian of the year 1998 by the James Beard Foundation, Best Chef Midwest (CHICAGO) of 2002 by the James Beard Foundation, National Chef of the Year 1995 by the James Beard Foundation and Outstanding Restaurant (for Topolobampo), again by the James Beard Foundation.
16. Giada De Laurentiis Net Worth - $30 million
Giada Pamela De Laurentiis began her path to becoming one of the nation’s best-loved TV chefs by studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. From there, she worked for numerous high profile Los Angeles restaurants before landing her first TV gig with the Food Network daytime cooking show, Everyday Italian.
She’s since become a regular fixture on the network, winning both a Daytime Emmy and a Gracie Award for her efforts. Adding to her considerable salary from the Food Network are the profits she’s made from her eponymous line of homeware products, her 9 cookbooks, and her 3 restaurants.
15. Bobby Flay Net Worth - $35 million
Bobby Flay has certainly done well for a high-school dropout. After impressing his first restaurant boss enough to convince him to fund his studies at cooking school, Flay became a member of the first graduating class of the French Culinary Institute.
Since then, he’s worked his way up from a lowly sous chef to one of the most recognizable names in the US, owning a chain of highly successful burger joints, hosting 14 cooking shows, writing numerous bestselling cookery books, and winning 4 Daytime Emmy Awards and three James Beard Foundation Awards. If that wasn’t enough, he’s even got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
14. Marco Pierre White Net Worth - $40 million
Legendary British chef Marco Pierre White may be known for his explosive temper, but it’s his cooking skills that have earned him a $40 million fortune. Classically trained under Albert and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche, White became the first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars in 1994, and at the age of just 32, the youngest in Michelin history.
Five years later, he handed the stars back. "I was being judged by people who had less knowledge than me, so what was it truly worth?,” he explained. “I gave Michelin inspectors too much respect, and I belittled myself. There were three options. First, I could be a prisoner of my world and continue to work six days a week. Second, I could live a lie and charge high prices and not be behind the stove. Or three, I could give my stars back, spend time with my children and re-invent myself."
These days, White is the active director and shareholder of Black And White Hospitality, and a regular face on various cooking shows.
13. Levi Roots Net Worth - $45 million
Levi Roots (or to give him his full name, Keith Valentine Alexander David Bright Graham), came to fame in 2006 on the UK TV program, Dragon’s Den, where he asked for the Dragon’s support in launching his range of condiments, Reggae Reggae Sauce. Fast forward to 2019, and the sauce is stocked in almost every grocery store and supermarket in the UK, while Roots has become a popular TV star and cookery writer.
12. Charlie Ayers Net Worth - $47 million
Former executive chef at Google Charlie Ayers comes in at 12th position with a net worth of $45 million. Such was his importance to the firm that when David Vise published the corporate history, The Google Story, he gave an entire chapter to Ayer’s entitled “Charlie’s Place”. While Ayers’ fortune can largely be attributed to his Goggle stock options, he’s also earned a pretty penny with the Calafia Café / Calafia Market a Go-Go chain.
11. Vikram Vij Net Worth - $50 million
Indian born Canadian chef Vikram Vij sits at the heart of a restaurant empire that includes the Vij's Restaurant and Rangoli Restaurant in Vancouver, and My Shanti in South Surrey, British Colombia.
A well-known supporter of sustainable food practices, Vij has given his backing to numerous causes over the years, including Farm Folk City Folk, the Green Table Society, UBC Farm fundraisers, and the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood Program.
10. Ina Garten Net Worth - $50 million
Ina Garten may have no formal training as a chef, but that hasn’t stopped her from earning $50 million from her cooking. Since taking her first steps in the industry with the gourmet food store, Barefoot Contessa, Garten has created a multi-million dollar empire that covers everything from cookbooks to TV shows, ready-made meals to magazine columns.
9. Jose Andrés Net Worth - $50 million
According to his official bio, José Andrés “is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, New York Times bestselling author, educator, television personality, humanitarian, and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup”. The end result of that impressive list of credentials is a net worth that, at $50 million, earns him the title of joint 9th richest chef in the world.
8. David Chang Net Worth - $60 million
Chef and entrepreneur David Chang makes it to 8th position on our list with a net worth of $60 million. As the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, Chang owns a number of highly successful ventures, including Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ma Peche, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Milk Bar, Momofuku Ko in New York City, Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney, Australia, and Nikai, Daisho, and Shoto in Toronto.
In addition to holding 2 Michelin stars for Momofuku Ko in NYC, Chang has been named to Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2010, been named Bon Appetit's and GQ's Chef of the Year in 2007, received countless James Beard Foundation Award nominations, and enjoyed widespread praise for his Netflix series Ugly Delicious.
7. Emeril Lagasse Net Worth - $70 million
Emeril Lagasse’s career is a masterclass in how to make it as a millionaire: after earning his stripes in various restaurants across France, Lagasse returned to the US to take on an executive chef position at the legendary New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace.
After serving 7 and a half years at the restaurant, Lagasse decided the time was ripe to open his first restaurant, the success of which propelled him to international recognition and opened the door to numerous other ventures, including TV and cookery writing. Today, Lagasse’s vast food empire generates an estimated revenue of $150 million each year.
6. Rachael Ray Net Worth - $80 million
Up next is the chef, author, TV personality and businesswoman, Rachel Ray. Her “quick and easy” cooking style and engaging personality have made her one of the most popular presenters on the Food Network, while her syndicated talk show, Rachel Ray, has earned her a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Outstanding Talk Show.
Ray has been astute enough to work her celebrity status to the max and is currently pulling in substantial profits with her range of "Nutrish" pet foods, and line of homeware.
5. Wolfgang Puck Net Worth - $90 million
Anyone acquainted with the LA restaurant scene will be all too familiar with the name Wolfgang Puck thanks to the many high-end restaurants he owns across the city. In addition to his standalone establishments, Puck has created several highly successful chains, including the Wolfgang Puck Express and The Kitchen, which can be found at many international airports.
With 6 well-received cookbooks and numerous TV appearances under his belt, Puck is currently sitting on an estimated fortune of $90 million.
4. Thomas Keller Net Worth - $130 million
Thomas Keller just misses out on a position in our top three with a net worth of $130 million. Since starting in the industry as a dishwasher, Keller has risen through the ranks to become one of the most acclaimed chefs in the world, earning a three-star rating in the Michelin Guide for his restaurant Per Se and a further three stars for The French Laundry.
He also holds the impressive distinction of teaching Adam Sandler how to cook "the world's greatest sandwich" in the film Spanglish.
3. Nobu Matsuhisa Net Worth - $200 million
Renowned for his distinctive Asian fusion inspired cuisine, Japanese celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa comes in at third place with a net worth of $200 million.
As the owner of the Matsuhisa Restaurants and Nobu Hospitality, Matsuhisa has a global presence that would be the envy of most chefs… and a signature dish (black cod in miso) that many would (and do) pay a good portion of their salary to taste. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Matsuhisa Restaurants generates several hundred million dollars in revenue every year- which may explain Nobu’s huge personal fortune.
2. Gordon Ramsay Net Worth - $220 million
Gordon Ramsay’s penchant for swearing clearly hasn’t stood in the way of his career; with a net worth of $220 million, he can claim the illustrious title of 2nd richest chef in the world. While he earned his reputation in the kitchen, most of his wealth these days comes from his TV shows, which include Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Master Chef, Hotel Hell, Faking It, and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.
1. Jamie Oliver Net Worth - $300 million
In at number 1 is British chef, Jaime Oliver. After developing his skills in classic Italian fare at the legendary River Café, Oliver made his TV debut in The Naked Chef. His cheeky-chappy personality soon made him a star, and these days, Oliver is one of the biggest draws on TV.
He’s also managed to shift almost 40 million cookbooks, inspire the nation to overhaul their eating habits, and until recently, preside over a global chain of restaurants. In May 2019, Oliver’s restaurant empire crumbled under the weight of millions of dollars’ worth of debt.
While more than 1000 people lost their jobs, the demise of the empire seems to have barely scratched the surface of Oliver’s immense wealth, which sits at an estimated $300 million.
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Written by Garrett Parker
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