These days celebrity chefs are as recognizable as movie stars and musicians. Once hidden from view working in kitchens around the world, the advent of reality television has seen the most famous chefs in the world step in front of the camera and become megastars.
Cooking shows are a dime a dozen today, with people tuning in to watch their favorite cooks whip up their favorite dishes, travel the world in search of the best cuisines, or shout at contestants on reality TV show competitions.
The most famous chefs hail from all parts of the globe and specialize in a wide range of different cuisines. Each one has made an impression in the culinary world and became a celebrity in their own right. To highlight these cooking masters, here is a look at 16 fantastic chefs.
Foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay is arguably the most famous chef in the world. The Scottish entrepreneur currently holds seven Michelin stars (he’s acquired 16 throughout his career) and is as well known for his tirades during cooking. He worked under some of the best chefs (including Joel Robuchon) during his early years and studied in Paris to learn French cuisine.
Ramsay is involved with over 80 restaurants worldwide, with his most popular, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, having held three Michelin stars since 2001, making it the longest-running three Michelin-starred restaurant in London. But what really shot Ramsey to fame is his reality television shows.
Series like Hell’s Kitchen, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell, and The F Word turned Ramsey into a bonafide television star. His fiery temper and witty tongue drew viewers in as he turned his popularity into a media empire. The Rangers fan and Masterchef host is a fitness freak who was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006. Ramsay continues to be one of the most polarising chefs on television and has no plans on slowing down anytime soon.
After training at restaurants in Paris and Monaco, Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck moved to America at the age of 23 to kick start his culinary career. He became part owner of restaurant Ma Maison and released a cookbook with recipes he used at the eatery, but it wasn’t until Puck struck out on his own that things really took off.
He opened Spago in 1982 and the restaurant soon became a must-visit spot on the Sunset Strip. There are now multiple Spago locations across the globe, with the iconic restaurant’s Beverly Hills setting consistently making the top 40 restaurants in the world list every year.
Puck’s empire doesn’t just extend to restaurants, with the lovable chap also running a premium catering service and selling a wide range of kitchen and food merchandise. He also had his own show on The Food Network, Cooking Class with Wolfgang Puck, and has popped up on many cooking TV shows, including Masterchef and Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters.
American chef Bobby Flay has been on our television sets for years. His association with Food Network stretches back almost three decades, with some of Flay’s most notable shows including Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and Beat Bobby Flay.
Flay owns several restaurants across the United States, with his Bobby’s Burger Palace the most well-known. Part of the first graduating class of the French Culinary Institute in 1984, Flay quickly rose through the ranks to become a much-respected chef. Although it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Flay, with the chef spending some time working on the floor at the American Stock Exchange while he contemplated his career during his early 20s.
Thankfully Flay chose to return to cooking and has gone on to have an extremely successful career. He even has four Daytime Emmy Awards to his name and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Few French chefs are as popular and well-known as Guy Savoy. He got his start by completing a three-year apprenticeship with the Troisgros brothers. He went on to work at numerous restaurants before finally opening his first eatery in New York in the late 70s. But it wasn’t until 1980 when he opened Guy Savoy in Paris that his profile began to rise. In 1985 the restaurant received two Michelin stars and turned Savoy into a household name.
Since then he has gone on to have tremendous success as a chef and businessman, opening several more restaurants in Paris and releasting a couple of cookbooks. He also trained Gordon Ramsey during his early years, with the acid-tongued Scot referring to Savoy as his mentor. His flagship restaurant, Guy Savoy, has been named the “Best Restaurant in the World” for five years running by La Liste, highlighting Savoy’s talents.
Giada De Laurentiis
When it comes to famous female chefs, Giada De Laurentiis is at the top of most lists. The Italian born American studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and had dreams of becoming a pastry chef. A stint in Wolfgang Puck’s Spago led to De Laurentiis joining the Food Network. She has since featured on or hosted multiple shows, including Everyday Italian, Giada in Paradise, and Winner Cake All.
While she does own a few restaurants, including two on the Las Vegas Strip, De Laurentiis is better known for her on-screen work. She has won three Daytime Emmy awards and also written several cookbooks, with Giada at Home and Weeknights with Giada making it to the top spot on The New York Times best sellers list.
Few chefs are as inventive as Heston Blumenthal. A pioneer of multi-sensory cooking, where it’s not just about the taste but also the look and smell of the food, Blumenthal currently has five Michelin stars. While he received an apprenticeship at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons at the age of 18, he dropped out after a week. He then spent the next ten years working normal jobs while teaching himself the art of French cuisine.
In 1985 he eventually opened his first eatery, the Fat Duck, and hasn’t looked back since. A smash with critics and patrons, the Fat Duck turned Blumenthal into a star. He has opened several more restaurants since and become a regular on television.
Approaching cooking in a scientific way has enabled him to create a niche cooking space few others have managed to capture. Many of his television shows and cookbooks explore his different take on food and expand on his multi-sensory theory. Some of his signature dishes include snail porridge, bacon and egg ice cream, and triple-cooked chips.
Ever wanted to go experience flavor town? Guy Fieri can take you there. The charismatic chef with a love for colorful shirts developed an interest in food while studying abroad in France. He worked for several restaurants and top-name chefs before branching out on his own. But unlike many of his peers, Fieri isn’t about fine dining. He wants people to enjoy their food, putting his own spin on American favorites like burgers and barbeque.
The bleached blond Fieri’s popularity soared when he became the face of the Food Network. He won the second season of The Next Food Network Star in 2006 and was granted his own six-episode show. The reaction to Guy’s Big Bite was so big that Fieri soon found himself hosting multiple shows on the network.
Fieri owns over 80 restaurants, is involved with a variety of brands, and has even written several cookbooks. In 2021 he inked a three-year $80 million deal with the Food Network, making him one of the highest-paid chefs on television.
When it comes to TV chefs, Jamie Oliver is often looked at as one of the pioneers. The accomplished chef worked under many big names during the 90s before bursting into the mainstream with his 1999 show The Naked Chef. He followed this up with a cookbook that became a best seller in the UK and soon found himself with a large fanbase.
Over the past two decades, Oliver has starred in or hosted over 50 television shows, with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Jamie’s Kitchen, and Jamie at Home all massive successes. But it hasn’t always worked out for Oliver, whose Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, a chain of globally branded restaurants, went bankrupt in 2019.
Despite the failure of his restaurants, Oliver continues to star regularly in different cooking programs and release cooking-themed books.
The current holder of eight Michelin stars, Thomas Keller is the most decorated chef in America. The Californian got his start apprenticing at various restaurants overseas before striking it big with his three Michelin-starred restaurant The French Laundry. The restaurant has been praised by critics and continues to be Keller’s flagship eatery. It’s easily one of the best restaurants in America and a must-visit for anyone who loves fine dining.
Well respected by his peers, Keller has won more awards than you can poke a stick at, including Best American Chef, Best Restaurant in the World (French Laundry), and Chef of the Year. Keller has written numerous books and also worked as a consultant on the animated hit film Ratatouille.
Similar to Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray is just as famous for her cooking as her bubbly personality. Although not a trained chef, Rachael Ray worked in the food industry for many years before her series, 30 Minute Meals, turned her into a TV star. The success of the series led to Ray signing a deal with the Food Network where she has been a mainstay for the past two decades.
Ray is known for her funny catchphrases, such as “Oh my gravy!” and “EVOO” (extra virgin olive oil), which are all part of her appeal. She makes easy-to-prepare meals that resonate with everyday folk. She might not have a Michelin star, but Ray has won two Daytime Emmy Awards.
Marco Pierre White
Along with Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White is one of the OG celebrity chefs. He is the first and youngest (at the age of 33) British chef to earn a three Michelin star rating and presides over a culinary empire. But his newfound fame as a celebrated chef didn’t sit well with White, who gave back his Michelin stars and retired in 1999.
That’s when White got into the restaurant game, opening various reactants around the world while also writing several cookbooks. He also got into TV and was the head chef of Hell’s Kitchen. He has appeared on a long list of reality TV cooking shows and is a regular guest chef on Masterchef Australia.
A fan of Mexican food, Rick Bayless helped transform people’s opinion of the cuisine. Bayless hosted the successful 26-part television series Cooking Mexican in the late 70s, leading the chef to embark on a six-year culinary journey throughout Mexico, resulting in Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico, the Mexican cooking bible.
As well as writing several more books, Bayless has opened several restaurants specializing in Mexican cuisine and hosted high-rating Mexico: One Plate at a Time. He won the title of “Top Chef Master” on the reality TV show of the same name and has seven James Beard Awards, making him one of the most accomplished chefs on this list.
This might be a controversial decision, but it’s hard to knock the impact Nigella Lawson has had on food culture. A food critic who became deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times at just 26, Lawson eventually became a freelancer, writing for many publications around the world while working on her own book.
How to Eat hit shelves in 1998 and became a smash hit. Lawson then got her first TV series, Nigella Bites, and the rest, as they say, is history. Lawson has been a regular on the small screen for over two decades, hosting her own shows while also popping up on reality competitions Top Chef, MasterChef Australia, and The Taste.
Her flirty personality and casual approach to cooking have helped Lawson engage both men and women. She is very down-to-earth and comes across as someone you could chat with for hours.
Rick Stein is a UK legend. The celebrity chef, restauranteur, author, and TV star has had a long and rewarding career in food. His first business venture was transforming a small nightclub into a bistro that became known as “The Seafood Restaurant.” He’s opened 11 more restaurants across the UK (two have since closed) as well as two in Australia, a country he holds close to his heart.
Stein has written over 25 books and featured in over 50 food-related TV series, with his most recent, Rick Stein’s Cornwall, focusing on the wonderful county of Cornwall in England’s south.
There is a new breed of chefs who are young, passionate, and carving their own path in the culinary world. One of those is Matty Matheson. The Canadian celebrity chef is known for his love of meat and vibrant personality, which helped him land the gig on the Vice cooking series Munchies.
Since then Matheson has appeared on several dedicated cooking shows that can be found on YouTube. He’s also teamed with good friend and record producer Benny Blanco for the web series Matty and Benny Eat Out America and Stupid Fucking Cooking Show. He also stars in and produces the chef drama The Bear, which has been receiving rave reviews.
Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse holds 17 Michelin stars, the most by any living chef in the world. The French chef operates several restaurants around Paris and has eateries all across the world, including New York, Tokyo, and London. Ducasse is widely considered one of the best chefs in the world and was responsible for preparing the food for the wedding of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock.
Not only has he prepared food for the royals, but Ducasse has also sent his food into space. Back in 2015, Ducasse prepared meals for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. While he doesn’t cook often these days, Ducasse still has a big say in the cuisine served at his restaurants.
David Chang is somewhat of a food maverick. Not one to be held hostage by conventions or rules, he does what he wants, helping him succeed as a famous chef. Chang studied in America, France, and Japan, but soon grew tired of fine dining. Wanting to prove you could make incredible food without the pretentiousness of upper-class dining, Chang opened Momofuku Noodle Bar. He would go on to open similar restaurants under the Momofuku brand and quickly established himself as one of America’s top up-and-coming chefs.
These days Chang has his hands full juggling many different roles. While he oversees the Momofuku brand and the restaurants under it, he also hosts a successful podcast, The Dave Chang Show, has written a couple of books, contributes to various publications, and has hosted several cooking-themed TV series, including Netflix shoes Ugly Delicious and Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
When your mom is cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, it’s no surprise cooking becomes a passion. That’s exactly what happened with Alex Guarnaschelli. Inspired by her mother, Guarnaschelli worked at a number of restaurants across the world in places like France, New York, and Los Angeles before becoming the executive chef at Butter.
The well-respected Guarnaschelli got her first taste of television work when she appeared as a contestant on Iron Chef America. She soon found herself part of the Food Network and has gone on to have tremendous on-camera success. She is a long-running judge on the reality cooking competition Chopped and has appeared on successful shows Worst Cooks in America, Cooks vs. Cons, All-Star Best Thing I Ever Ate, and Guilty Pleasures.