Celeb chefs who cooked up million-dollar empires
From cable television to our social media feeds, our culture is absolutely obsessed with food. We love to look at it, talk about it, and most of all, eat it! With this food fixation in mind, it’s no surprise that celebrity chefs are on the rise.
These kitchen wizards teach us how to prepare even tastier treats and perform feats of culinary magic that most of us can never hope to match. And, in the process, they’ve managed to put away more than a pretty penny. Let’s take a look at some of the richest and most famous celebrity chefs around and see how they built their wealth.
1. Adriano Zumbo
“My one cooking tip is don’t just throw in the ingredients in the pan or mixer and leave it. Make sure you watch what the ingredients do when they’re put over heat, or when the water and sugar breaks down — by properly observing, you get a deeper knowledge of food and cooking.” – Adriano Zumbo
Australian chef and pâtissier Adriano Zumbo has turned his passion for desserts into an empire. After an impressive showing on MasterChef Australia, Zumbo has shown off his Willy Wonka-like confections on his own shows, Zumbo’s Just Desserts and Sugar Rush. He has also published one cookbook so far, but we bet this young chef has many more to come.
His net worth is estimated to be between $100,000 and $1 million, just enough to really live the sweet life.
NEXT: This queen of Cuban cuisine was once better known as a reality star.
2. Ana Quincoces
“Every year since I was a little girl my mother makes Bacalao a la Vizcaína on Good Friday. That divine concoction of salt cod slowly simmered in a mildly spicy yet sweet tomato sauce and lovingly adorned with hardboiled eggs and ‘pan frito’ is heaven on a plate to me.” – Ana Quincoces
Ana Quincoces is known for many things. This lawyer and mother of two is also one of the hottest chefs in Miami and a star of The Real Housewives of Miami. She’s the author of three cookbooks and a passionate ambassador for Cuban food. Quincoces is a hard worker and it shows in her estimated net worth of $9 million.
NEXT: This globe-trotting chef’s untimely death in 2018 shocked and saddened the culinary community.
3. Anthony Bourdain
“The true god of the restaurant business, of professional cooking, is not brilliance and creativity. It’s consistency. It is doing the same thing, exactly the same, again and again and again. That is the law. Number one.” – Anthony Bourdain
Many people knew and loved Anthony Bourdain as the host of the food and travel documentary No Reservations, where he toured the world and had interesting, intimate conversations with people everywhere about food, life, and everything in between. He was also the author of 13 books and a gifted chef.
His suicide in 2018 devastated his fans. Bourdain reportedly left his $1 million estate to his daughter.
NEXT: This British chef holds an impressive Iron Chef America record.
4. April Bloomfield
“Listen, it’s not an easy job being in a kitchen. There’s no sugarcoating it. It’s a lot of long hours, it’s a lot of heavy lifting, it’s a lot of blood, it’s a lot of sweat. Not so many tears. I always tried to make a point to never cry in a kitchen, and I never did.” – April Bloomfield
Chef April Bloomfield has already achieved a lot in the kitchen. In 2012, she was one of only 10 women in the United States to hold a Michelin star, and she still has the record highest score on Iron Chef America. She is probably best known for her two restaurants, The Spotted Pig and The Breslin Bar & Dining Room.
Bloomfield’s net worth is estimated at $16 million.
NEXT: This Food Network star can’t be beat!
5. Bobby Flay
“I think that you should be able to make a great risotto or a great pasta dish. A chef should be able to go into his walk-in box, take a look at any of the ingredients he has there and create something spectacular by glueing it together with either a fresh pasta or a risotto.” – Bobby Flay
Bobby Flay is a serial restaurateur and a Food Network host several times over. He’s in charge of Mesa Grill in Las Vegas and Nassau, Bar Americain and Gato in New York, Bobby Flay Steak in Atlantic City, and 19 Bobby’s Burger Palace locations. You might remember him from Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Iron Chef, or Beat Bobby Flay.
He’s also the author of a handful of cookbooks and the host of a talk show about cooking on SiriusXM. His net worth is estimated at $30 million.
NEXT: This cool Cat was the first female Iron Chef.
6. Cat Cora
“I cook with a lot of garlic. Garlic’s probably my number one. And then citrus — lemons and limes — things like that. We have a lemon tree, we have a lime tree, and we have an orange tree.” – Cat Cora
Cat Cora made history as the first female Iron Chef, but that’s not all she’s known for. She’s also a published author, mother of four, and co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates on Bravo. In 2013, she opened The Ocean Restaurant in Singapore inside of the world’s largest oceanarium, serving seafood in a dining room with stunning underwater views.
Her net worth is estimated at $7 million.
NEXT: This techie chef took an unusual route to wealth and fame.
7. Charlie Ayers
“I felt like Homer Simpson, working with all these hugely intelligent people … And I’m working next to financial analysts and guys that you know have invented the Internet and I’m like, can I go work in a corner where you’re not around?” – Charlie Ayers
Chef Charlie Ayers’ big break didn’t come in the form of a TV show or a hit book. He actually got his jump start to fame by taking a job as the in-house chef for Google back in the early 2000s. Thanks to his shares in the company, he became a millionaire overnight when Google went public.
He has since worked for other Silicon Valley giants like LinkedIn and Palantir and opened his own restaurant in Palo Alto. His net worth is estimated at $20 million.
NEXT: This celebrity chef is famous for her macabre sensibilities.
8. Christine McConnell
“Baking was just a silly, fun hobby that I started. My dad, at one point, talked to me and said, ‘There’s no money in cakes, it’s not gonna pan out.’ My mom is very supportive and encouraging, and she told him to shush.” – Christine McConnell
She’s been called a goth version of Martha Stewart, and that’s not too far from the truth. First as an Instagram star and then as the host of the Netflix series The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, this creative baker whips up beautiful yet spooky treats fit for a Halloween extravaganza.
Though the series was canceled after one season, we expect to see much more from this unique rising star. Her net worth is currently estimated to be around $500,000.
NEXT: This Ugly Delicious chef is also the head of a prestigious restaurant group.
9. David Chang
“But ultimately I wanted to make food that I wanted to eat. I didn’t want to compose a salad and make it look like a piece of art. I just didn’t want to be too precious.” – David Chang
Netflix subscribers may have seen David Chang in his series Ugly Delicious, but the rising culinary star already has a few more impressive accomplishments under his belt. Chang is the mastermind behind the Momofuko restaurant group, with locations in New York, Sydney, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.
He has two Michelin stars, is the author of several cookbooks, and the founder of Lucky Peach magazine. His net worth is estimated at $60 million.
NEXT: Bam! This celebrity chef is one of television’s most famous cooks.
10. Emeril Lagasse
“What really makes my clock go is still the restaurants. I love people, I love being with my staff, I love learning together, I love making people happy with food, with wine, with service.” – Emeril Lagasse
You might call Emeril Lagasse a quadruple threat. This Cajun chef is a TV host, cookbook author, restaurateur, and celebrity chef. He was among the first employees at the Food Network and is known for “taking things up a notch” on shows like Emeril Live and Iron Chef America.
Today, Emeril owns 13 restaurants and shows no signs of slowing down. His net worth is estimated at $70 million.
NEXT: This chef spends most of her time in the spotlight eating.
11. Gail Simmons
“Learn to cook. Learn to taste. You cannot eat and speak critically with any authority until you understand the work and skill that went into making your food.” – Gail Simmons
For over a decade, Gail Simmons has been among the judges on the hit series Top Chef. Before hitting the screen as a judge, Simmons actually began her career as a food writer after attending culinary school in New York. Since joining the permanent cast of Top Chef, Simmons has published a memoir and a cookbook, and appeared on a variety of Top Chef spinoffs.
Her net worth is estimated at $2.5 million.
NEXT: This Italian-American chef is known for bringing classic Italian cooking to the masses.
12. Giada De Laurentiis
“Taking a break is not the easiest thing for me because I feel like if I’m not doing something then I’m wasting my time. I like to make the most of every second I have.” – Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis really knows how to do the most she can with 24 hours in a day. This celebrity chef hosts Giada at Home on the Food Network and is a frequent guest on NBC’s Today Show. She’s also a prolific cookbook author. Her most popular book is called Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes.
She has won a Daytime Emmy for her show, and her net worth is estimated at $15 million.
NEXT: This celebrity chef is famous for his hot temper and restaurant makeovers.
13. Gordon Ramsay
“The image of a chef is far greater than ever before. Chefs today are more stylish, and that’s exciting. But I’ve got no tattoos.” – Gordon Ramsay
This British chef has been awarded 16 Michelin stars over the course of his career, and at the time of this writing, he holds seven. He’s best known in America as the easily enraged host of Kitchen Nightmares, a reality series that features the chef turning failing restaurants around.
He’s also the host of MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen, two cooking competition shows. Ramsay’s net worth is estimated to be about $190 million.
NEXT: This celebrity chef likes to rock out in his free time.
14. Graham Elliot
“There’s a million reasons why food’s important to me. The fact that I can find my voice by working with incredible ingredients. I use products that farmers put just as much love into growing and raising as I do cooking.” – Graham Elliot
Graham Elliot began making a name for himself when he was still quite young. Before he had turned 30, he appeared as a contestant on Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters, plus he became the youngest American chef to get a four-star review from a major publication.
Since then, he’s been busy with his restaurant Graham Elliot in Chicago, and he serves as the culinary director for the Windy City’s Lollapalooza music festival. Elliot’s net worth is estimated at $1.5 million.
NEXT: Pack your bags, we’re going to Flavortown.
15. Guy Fieri
“I’m always listening, I’m always trying to absorb. My dad taught me that. If we all took a little more time to get to know people, I think it would change the whole temperament of the world.” – Guy Fieri
There’s more to Guy Fieri than bleached hair and flame shirts. The Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host is also a restaurateur who owns three establishments in California and has licensed his name to a handful of others. He’s also a cookbook author and a philanthropist who dedicates time to causes like cooking for survivors of natural disasters who have lost their homes.
Fieri’s net worth is estimated at $8.5 million.
NEXT: Kick off your shoes, we’re going barefoot with this chef.
16. Ina Garten
“I’m asked to do a lot of things — like a lot of things. The truth is I love writing cookbooks and I love doing them really well. If I did a million other things, I couldn’t do that and I wouldn’t find those other things as satisfying.” – Ina Garten
Best known as the host of the Food Network series Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten is a self-taught chef who has made a name for herself in the world of food. In addition to her best-selling cookbooks, Garten also has a line of packaged mixes and sauces called Barefoot Contessa Pantry that can be found in upscale and gourmet grocery stores.
Her net worth is estimated at $50 million.
NEXT: Going barefoot isn’t enough for this “naked” chef.
17. Jamie Oliver
“Firstly, follow your instincts and follow your heart, not your ego, not your penis and definitely not what someone else tells you to do. It sounds simple, but it’s something that men particularly struggle with. Second, have the confidence to say no.” – Jamie Oliver
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is best known for hosting his series The Naked Chef and for his many, many cookbooks. Oliver is the author of over a dozen cookbooks, and he shows no signs of slowing down. He’s currently the second-best-selling British author of all time, second only to Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling.
Oliver’s net worth has been estimated at $235 million.
NEXT: This young Swedish chef truly has the “mind of a chef.”
18. Magnus Nilsson
“Food culture is important and food is the most culturally significant expression of humanity because we all eat and most of us cook. And if we don’t cook, that also says something about the culture.” – Magnus Nilsson
As the head chef at Swedish restaurant Fäviken, you’d think Magnus Nilsson would have more than enough to do. However, his star is rising thanks to efforts like his appearance on PBS’ The Mind of a Chef. Plus, Nilsson is the author of three books, including The Nordic Cookbook and The Nordic Baking Book.
His net worth is estimated to be between $100,000 and $1 million.
NEXT: This Iron Chef has more TV credits than you can shake a stick at.
19. Mario Batali
“I wanted to make simple and authentic food without dumbing it down. I really enjoyed the fact that a lot of the recipes are almost so simple as to defy being in a book.” – Mario Batali
Mario Batali was known for his many appearances on the Food Network on shows like Iron Chef America, Molto Mario, and The Chew on ABC. He was also an owner of several acclaimed restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, Singapore, and other cities. At one point, his net worth was estimated at $13 million.
NEXT: This domestic goddess once worked as a stockbroker.
20. Martha Stewart
“Look for opportunities around you and start with your own expertise, whether it’s your vocation or avocation.” – Martha Stewart
After an early career as a fashion model and then a stockbroker, Martha Stewart steadily built herself a domestic empire. Then, after publishing a successful cookbook, Stewart went on to become the host of Martha Stewart Living and later launched her line of Martha Stewart Living housewares at Kmart.
Today, she’s keeping busy hosting a new show on VH1 with Snoop Dogg, and she has joined the Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth as an adviser. Her net worth is estimated at $640 million.
NEXT: This celebrity chef also knows his wine.
21. Michael Chiarello
“I try to portray that where you eat is as important as what you eat. I try to concentrate on the cook — what’s the experience that they have? How can I help them be a guest at their own party?” – Michael Chiarello
Michael Chiarello is best known for his Food Network TV show Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello and his series NapaStyle on the Fine Living Network. Chiarello specializes in Italian-style American food, and his location in Napa means he has access to great wines.
Chiarello has a hand in the wine game, too as he owns his own vineyard. He has also published several cookbooks, and his net worth is estimated at $3.5 million.
NEXT: This author and restaurateur is known for being “simply” himself.
22. Ming Tsai
“I do East-West cuisine. I try to demystify Asian technique and ingredients and blend them smartly into Western technique and ingredients, which is different from fusion.” – Ming Tsai
Chef, restaurateur, author, and TV host Ming Tsai certainly knows how to keep busy. He’s hosted East Meets West, Ming’s Quest, and Simply Ming, all shows exploring his love of blending Eastern flavors with Western techniques. He sells his own line of kitchen goods on the Home Shopping Network, and he has written five cookbooks.
His Boston gastropub Blue Dragon is recognized by Zagat, and his net worth is estimated to be $10 million.
NEXT: This celebrity chef bites back.
23. Nigella Lawson
“When I wrote ‘How to Eat,’ I never really imagined it would be read. I think there’s an innocence that you can’t go back to — a lack of self-consciousness. And it so easily could not have worked. I’m still slightly astonished that it did work.” – Nigella Lawson
The author of books such as How to Eat and How to Be a Domestic Goddess brings a fun and flirty vibe to the celebrity-chef kitchen. She hosted the series Nigella Bites, and sells her own line of cookware called Living Kitchen. More recently, she hosted the BBC2 series Simply Nigella that’s all about comfort food.
Her net worth is estimated at $20 million.
NEXT: This chef is the most famous sushi chef in the world.
24. Nobu Matsuhisa
“My philosophy is it has to be fifty-fifty: good food and good service. And that’s a concept that works all over the world.” – Nobu Matsuhisa
Nobu Matsuhisa is the man behind the famous Nobu sushi restaurants. Hollywood actor Robert De Niro is now a part-owner in Nobu, and the chef himself has played small roles in movies such as Memoirs of a Geisha and Casino. He also owns about a dozen Nobu hotels around the world.
His net worth is about $200 million.
NEXT: This French chef was known as one of the greatest chefs in the world.
25. Paul Bocuse
“I am a not a doctor; so if you ask me if it is good to drink red wine, I will say yes because I have a vineyard in Beaujolais. And if you ask about cuisine, I will say it is about butter, cream and wine because I am a chef.” – Paul Bocuse
Though Paul Bocuse passed away from Parkinson’s disease in 2018, his impact on French gastronomy lives on. Since 1987, the Bocuse d’Or has been a prestigious award given to chefs for extraordinary achievements. He was the owner of several restaurants in France and he authored several cookbooks.
This French chef also owned a vineyard. His net worth was estimated to be $185 million.
NEXT: This celebrity chef is famous for her love of butter.
26. Paula Deen
“Don’t ever give up. You can’t let discouragement get you down. You can always find negative people that will try to discourage you from your goals. Sometimes it can be a family member. You can’t be discouraged, and you can’t let the word ‘no’ stop you.” – Paula Deen
At one point, Paula Deen was at the top of the celebrity chef heap. She shared her Southern comfort food recipes and affection for butter on her show Paula’s Home Cooking and authored 15 cookbooks. She’s sold her own dessert line at Walmart and opened a slew of restaurants across the United States.
Deen also sells air fryers and Southern seasonings on her website. At one point, her net worth was estimated at $14 million.
NEXT: This chef can’t resist saying “delish.”
27. Rachael Ray
“My mom worked in restaurants for 60 years, and what I learned from her is a lot. But if I had to boil it down, take your work very seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Work harder than everyone else and never complain about it. Don’t go to bed if you’re not proud of the product of your day; stay awake until you are.” – Rachael Ray
As the host of 30 Minute Meals and Rachael Ray, Rachael Ray has brought her vision for fun and easy cooking into millions of homes. Ray is also the author of several cookbooks and she has her own line of cat food. She has a magazine called Rachael Ray Every Day, and she sells a line of interior design home goods with PulteGroup.
Her net worth is about $60 million.
NEXT: This semi-homemade star is beloved for her ability to make home cooking super easy.
28. Sandra Lee
“I’m not sure that some of the food purists are in touch with what really goes on in American households.” – Sandra Lee
With her show Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee, this chef revolutionized the idea of what a celebrity chef could be. Instead of prizing technique and fine ingredients, Sandra Lee presented a more accessible vision for what home cooking could be by combining fresh ingredients with store-bought components. She has also published 25 books and sold her product lines at Sears and Kmart.
Following a battle with breast cancer in 2015, Lee is now several years into remission. Her net worth is estimated at $20 million.
NEXT: This chef has been the head judge on every season of Bravo’s Top Chef.
29. Tom Colicchio
“If you want to be a good cook, you have to practice. And so I suspect if you’re not a good cook, you don’t spend a whole lot of time cooking. It’s like anything. A lot of it’s muscle memory, it’s about creating good habits, it’s about learning good solid technique and methods. So it’s much like learning to play a musical instrument.” – Tom Colicchio
This Top Chef judge also owns a handful of restaurants, such as Craftsteak in Las Vegas and the New York sandwich shop ’Wichcraft. He’s also the author of three cookbooks and he appeared in the documentary A Place at the Table alongside Jeff Bridges. His net worth is estimated to be $20 million.
NEXT: This Austrian chef invited pizza to the big-kid table.
30. Wolfgang Puck
“I love good ingredients, you know? A lot of people think cooking is all just about technique. I think it’s all about getting the best ingredients. If you’re the best chef in the world and you buy old fish, it’s going to be smelly and nobody will like it.” – Wolfgang Puck
With his famous Los Angeles restaurant Spago, Wolfgang Puck introduced the world to the concept of fancy pizza. He has also written a handful of books and sold his own line of frozen pizzas. Puck has also dipped his toe in the acting pool, with appearances on Frasier and Tales from the Crypt. His net worth is estimated at $75 million.