Most chefs go into the culinary field not to become rich and famous, but to pursue their calling. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs earn a median annual income of $40,630 per year. While this might seem like a reasonable salary for the average population, it pales in comparison to what celebrity chefs earn. Read our list of the 10 top earning celebrity chefs according to Forbes to find out how much famous chefs are bringing in annually and where they are getting their income.
Celebrity Chef Salaries
1. Gordon Ramsay – $38 million
In the US, Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay is well known for his “bad boy celebrity chef” personality. Ramsay, who hosts the TV shows Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef, also owns 23 restaurants around the world, many of which are Michelin-star fine dining establishments. Ramsay is gradually expanding his restaurant empire into US cities like Los Angeles and New York. He’s also the host of the reality TV series Hotel Hell in which he helps struggling hotel owners turn their businesses around.
2. Rachel Ray – $25 million
Rachel Ray focuses on teaching people how to cook easy, everyday meals. She got her start on the Food Network in 2002 with such shows as 30 Minute Meals, Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels, and $40 a Day. The only chef on the list that does not run her own restaurant, Ray has diversified her income with her own magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray, and talk show, The Rachel Ray Show, both which were launched in 2005. She is also the author of 20 best-selling cookbooks and has developed a popular line of cookware.
3. Wolfgang Puck – $20 million
Wolfgang Puck is an Austrian chef and restaurateur who oversees 20 fine dining restaurants, 80 fast casual chain restaurants, and dozens of catering service locations. His Californian cuisine restaurant, Spago, has been on the list of the Top 40 Restaurants in the US since 2004. Puck also sells cookbooks and licensed foods, such as his soup and pizza products, which are sold in supermarkets around the country. He has appeared on TV shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and in 2013, he was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
4. Paula Deen – $17 Million
Paula Deen is an Emmy award-winning cooking show host, restaurateur, and author of fourteen cookbooks. Her Food Network shows include Paula’s Home Cooking, Paula’s Party, and Paula’s Best Dishes. Famed for her butter-rich Southern recipes, Deen resides in Savannah, Georgia and owns and operates the Lady & Sons restaurant with her two sons. In January of 2012, Deen announced that she had Type 2 Diabetes and then became a spokesperson for diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk, a move that was widely criticized by other chefs, due to the fact that she continues to promote her high sugar diet. Paula’s contract with the Food Network was also recently cancelled after she was embroiled in controversy for allegedly making racist remarks.
5. Mario Batali – $13 Million
Mario Batali is a chef, restaurateur, writer, and TV personality who is an expert in Italian cuisine. Once featured on Iron Chef America, Batali currently hosts a talk show/cooking show called The Chew. He earns the bulk of his income from his restaurants, which include establishments in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Batali also licenses cookware, pasta sauce, and wine from his vineyard in Tuscany. He is a multiple James Beard award winner and was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012.
6. Alain Ducasse – $12 Million
Alain Ducasse is a French-born chef who operates a number of fine dining restaurants. Ducasse is the first chef to earn three Michelin stars at restaurants in three different cities and is one of only two chefs to hold 21 Michelin stars throughout his career. His most famous restaurant in the US is Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Ducasse also owns a network of hotels in Europe and a cooking school in Paris. In 2013, he received a Lifetime Achievement from the Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy.
7. Todd English – $11 Million
Based in Boston, Todd English is a restaurateur, author, and TV personality. He hosts the PBS cooking show Food Trip with Todd English, owns multiple restaurants throughout the United States, works as lead chef for Delta Airlines, and has written four cookbooks. In 2012, English’s Las Vegas restaurant P.U.B. was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
8. Nobu Matsuhisa – $10 Million
Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa is famed for his fusion cuisine, which melds Japanese and Peruvian flavors. He had a tiny sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills known as Matsuhisa where actor Robert DeNiro was a frequent diner. Matsuhisa partnered with DeNiro in 1994 and together they opened the high-end Nobu sushi restaurants around the world, three of which have been rated with one Michelin star.
9. Bobby Flay – $9 Million
Bobby Flay is a chef known for his Mexican-inspired recipes and burger restaurant chain. As an Emmy award winning culinary personality, he has hosted numerous cooking shows and specials on the Food Network, such as Boy Meets Grill and Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, and is an “Iron Chef” on the show Iron Chef America. Flay has also authored several cookbooks. He is a James Beard Foundation award winner, and in 2013, he was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
10. Guy Fieri – $8 Million
Having gotten his celebrity chef start as the winner of the second season of the Next Food Network Star in 2006, Guy Fieri is currently one of the Food Network’s biggest stars. His TV shows, which include Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Guy’s Big Bite among others, have a cult following that is largely made up of male viewers. Known for his rowdy TV personality, Fieri co-owns five restaurants in California, as well as a restaurant in New York City that received a notoriously scathing review from the New York Times.
Becoming a Top Celebrity Chef
From television shows to cookbooks and culinary merchandise, one thing many of these celebrity chefs have in common is that their income stems from more than just owning restaurants. While most chefs could only dream of earning as much as the culinary celebrities listed here, becoming a chef is nevertheless a rewarding career option for those who love food. If you would like to make a living in the art and science of food preparation, a good way to start is by exploring the culinary arts programs on CulinarySchools.com today. With hard work, talent, business savvy, and a bit of luck, maybe one day you too could become a celebrity chef.