For a long time, cooking was about the least glamorous thing you could do. Generations were brought up believing that there could be few things worse than toiling away in a hot, smelly kitchen for hours on end, covered in blood and animal juice, all in the service of people much posher and richer than you. How times have changed.
The modern chef is more celebrity than servant. Fiery personalities and artistic genius have made them the rockstars of the modern age. Accordingly, many now reap the rewards sown by scores of devoted fans and preside over culinary empires that span the globe. Using figures aggregated from several sources, including Forbes, The Richest and CelebrityNetWorth, we can now reveal the 10 richest chefs in the world.
10. Marco Pierre White - $40mn
The original bad boy of British cooking, Marco Pierre White was arguably the first chef to specialise in unapologetic rudeness to both staff and customers. A teacher and mentor to big names like Curtis Stone and Gordon Ramsay, White’s reputation is based as much on fear as it is food.
9. Ina Garten - $40mn
Since first airing in 2002, Garten’s Barefoot Contessa has grown to become Food Network’s flagship programme. Spawning a series of cookbooks and ingredients, Ina Garten has been able to amass a personal fortune off the back of her approachable comfort food based brand.
8. Charlie Ayers - $45mn
Though he might not be the most well known name on this list, Charlie Ayers has had what is undoubtedly one of the coolest careers in the industry. Starting out as the personal chef for The Grateful Dead, Ayers made his millions working as the executive chef at Google and has since cashed in on his lucrative stock options.
7. Emeril Lagasse - $50mn
A perennial presence on several of TVs longest running cooking shows, Emeril Lagasse has established himself as one of the premier presenters working in food today. A pioneer of modern Creole and Cajun cooking, Lagasse also presides over a restaurant empire that generates over $150mn annually.
6. David Chang - $50mn
Despite his relatively tender age of 40, David Chang is indisputably one of the biggest names in cooking. His Momofuku brand has earned an international reputation, as well as a clutch of Michelin stars, and new shows such as Ugly Delicious shows that his skillset is still growing.
5. Rachel Ray - $60mn
As perhaps the most famous female chef working today, it’s small wonder that Rachel Ray makes the top 5. Hailing from a foodie family, Ray is most well known for her numerous TV shows, including the Emmy Award winning Rachel Ray.
4. Wolfgang Puck - $75mn
If there’s one chef that’s synonymous with modern celebrity culture, it’s Wolfgang Puck. As the man who catered for the Oscar’s, Puck built a reputation for delivering decadent ingredients with style. With his own mini restaurant empire well established, Puck is today one of the biggest names in food.
3. Gordon Ramsay - $140-$175mn
As perhaps the sweariest man to ever enter a kitchen, it’s inevitable that Gordon Ramsay’s antics were bound to get him noticed. While shows such as The F Word, Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares have brought in the cash, Ramsay’s astonishing collection of 16-Michelin Stars across his brand prove that there’s more to him than shouting.
2. Jamie Oliver - $235-$400mn
Everyone’s favourite Essex cheeky-chappy is easily one of the most likable personalities in the world of food. Whether he’s penning recipe books, hosting shows or manning the pass at one of his award winning restaurants, The Naked Chef really is a jack of all trades.
1. Alan Wong - $1.1bn
It’s amazing to think that the world’s richest chef owns only three restaurants and only has a handful of television appearances to his name. However, Alan Wong’s wealth does not come from food. A pioneer of new Hawaiian cuisine, Wong has earned most of his money from tech company VTECH - of which he is a co-owner and founder, in addition to his foodie interests.
Any chef will tell you that if you’re getting into the food industry for the money, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Though the majority of chefs do it for love, as these 10 prove, it is certainly possible to make your millions working in a kitchen.