Being a top chef these days isn’t just about cooking and the world’s top earning chefs are restaurateurs, authors, TV personalities, and purveyors of kitchen and cookware ranges. They are lauded not only for their great food but their performance and their endorsements, or maybe even their political campaigns. It may well however, still surprise you just what kind of money our top earning chefs can pull in. Here are the 7 top earning chefs according to Forbes Magazine:
1 Gordon Ramsay
Annual income - $38 million
The potty-mouthed Scot Gordon Ramsay heads the list of top earning chefs. Did you know he once played goalkeeper for Scottish soccer club Glasgow Rangers, although he never made it to the first team proper because of injury. It is his television appearances that Ramsay is most known for, treating the world of professional, celebrity and amateur cooks to his unique brand of “mentorship” in shows such as Hell’s Kitchen . As a TV personality, it’s easy to forget he is a brilliant chef who actually holds 14 Michelin stars.
2 Rachael Ray
Annual income - $25 million
I have always found it quite odd that although women traditionally rule the kitchen at home, it is men that dominate the world of restaurants and catering. However, one lady who wields girl power in the world of cooking is Rachael Ray. Amazingly, in the Forbes list of highest earning chefs, Ms. Ray is the only one who doesn’t own a restaurant, making her achievements all the more impressive. A protégé of Oprah Winfrey, Rachael Ray has been a mainstay of the Food Network schedule since 2002, is a prolific author of cook books (20 to date), has a magazine, and also a chat show.
3 Wolfgang Puck
Annual income - $20 million
Having risen to stardom in the 1980s for his new take on pizza, Wolfgang Puck is now an emperor in his domain. His company is massive. It includes 80 Wolfgang Puck Express sites, 20 fine dining restaurants, and numerous catering locations. He also has a range of pizzas and soups sold in grocery stores and supermarkets nationwide plus his cookware sells well on HSN. This Austrian-born chef who has called the US home since 1973 sure knows how to maximize the potential of his name; his latest venture is a Wolfgang Puck app.
4 Paula Deen
Annual income - $17 million
The queen of down south home cooking has been feeling the burning glaze of the media spotlight in recent months, but she remains in 4th place in the list of top earning chefs – time will tell if her recent troubles will hit her in the bread basket. For now however, Ms. Deen is happy to show off her slimmed-down figure (she was diagnosed with type II diabetes early in 2013), keep up her television and live appearances and opening new restaurants. The same proclaimed queen of butter also has deals with Smithfield hams and Wal-mart.
5 Mario Batali
Annual income - $13 million
Mario Batali may be American, but he is true to his Italian roots. Italian just oozes out of his every pore and he’s seriously expert on the history of and the regionality of Italian food. He looks the epitome of a jolly chef too – rounded and rotund thanks to a strong appreciation of his own cooking. Unlike the other highest paid chefs, the bulk of the Batali income actually comes from his excellent restaurants, and the television and personal appearances are supplementary. He also produces wines at his La Mozza vineyard in Tuscany, has a range of pasta sauces, and his name is licensed on pepper mills and cast iron cookware.
6 Alain Ducasse
Annual income - $12 million
French-born Ducasse has the honor of having been the first chef to be awarded three Michelin stars in three different cities. He might not be as familiar a name as the other top earning chefs I’m writing you about, but this man has a stellar reputation in the culinary world and is a major inspiration to current and aspiring chefs; he passes on his superb knowledge and techniques at a cooking school in Paris, rather than through television shows. Ducasse owns a network of hotels in Europe, prestigious restaurants in the US and Europe and has a number of licensing deals at hotels across the globe.
7 Todd English
Annual income - $11 million
Despite a rocky time in the last 12 months, Todd English remains one of the highest earning chefs.
On the upside, English re-opened his Boston Restaurant - Olives - after it had to close due to a grease fire in 2010, but on the downside he had to shut his Faneuil Hall restaurant – Kingfish – when it faced a lawsuit for back rent of $1 million. But, he has also been busy elsewhere: he has filed a patent for a new type of rotisserie and he also sold himself on Groupon – someone paid $25,000 for a private Todd English cookery class and dinner for two.
Were you surprised by any of these top earning chefs? Anyone you thought would be in the top 7 that isn’t?
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