Did you Know?Le Cordon Bleu is the world's largest school of culinary arts established in 1895, in Paris, by French journalist, Marthe Distel. Some famous alumni from the school include, Mario Batali, Julia Child and Ming Tsai.
"A good cook is the peculiar gift of the gods. He must be a perfect creature from the brain to the palate, from the palate to the finger's end". The English writer Walter Savage Landor has briefly and so aptly quoted the meaning of a perfect chef. A chef is a term used to describe a person whose profession is to cook for others, whether in their homes or in restaurants.
Generally, chefs are well-versed with all kinds of culinary arts, from traditional to contemporary and from domestic to international. Surprisingly enough, domestically, what is predominantly the domain of women, has been overpowered by a male majority in professional kitchens. And, some of them have contributed so greatly to cuisine that they have been acclaimed worldwide and have become culinary legends. There have been so many chefs till date, who have managed to make it to the hall of fame. Let's begin with listing the top five chefs of today in terms of their earnings.
World's Top Five Richest Chefs
This Scottish bad boy celebrity chef, who began his career as a chef at the 'Aubergine' restaurant in London in 1993, and managed to bag two very prestigious Michelin stars, went on, in 1998, to set up his own restaurant called Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. This restaurant quickly achieved three Michelin stars, which it has been holding since then, making it London's only restaurant to hold the award for such a long time, and also making chef Gordon Ramsay one of only four chefs in the U.K. to maintain it. He is also the anchor of famous television shows such as Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and MasterChef. The Forbes magazine has listed him as the richest chef in the world, in 2012, with total earnings of about $38 million.
This American celebrity chef and author, is also the anchor of some famous series on 'Food Network' such as Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels and $40 a Day and others, which have been the winners of Daytime Emmy Awards. She has also authored several cookbooks based on the concept of 30 minute meals, which is her forté. In 2005, the Reader's Digest Association launched a magazine called Every Day with Rachael Ray, the readership of which increased at a tremendous rate between 2006 and 2007. Forbes magazine ranked her as the second richest chef with total earnings of around $25 million in 2012.
He is a celebrity chef and restaurateur of Austrian origin, picked up cooking at an early age from his mother, a pastry chef herself. After working as an apprentice under famous French chefs in Paris and Monaco, he returned to the United States and became a part-owner of a Los Angeles restaurant within just two years. In 1981, he published his first cookbook, Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen, which was highly acclaimed. In 2004, he launched a group of companies called Wolfgang Puck Companies which manage twenty fine dining restaurants, apart from catering services and food merchandise. His first restaurant, Hiroshima served Asian cuisine. After that, he never looked back and went on to open a chain of some 25 restaurants all across the U.S. According to Forbes magazine, he is the third richest chef with total earnings of around $20 million in 2012.
Paula Deen is an American celebrity chef, author, restaurateur and an actress. She operates from Savannah, Georgia, where she stays and owns a restaurant called The Lady & Sons, which she manages with her two sons. She also owns a restaurant in Tunica, Mississippi which is called The Paula Deen Buffet and specializes in Southern cuisine. She has authored as many as fourteen cookbooks. In 2005, she launched her own bi-monthly lifestyle magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen which is quite popular among female readers. She also anchored a number of cookery shows on 'Food Network' including Paula's Home Cooking, Paula's Party and Paula's Best Dishes. Apart from this, she also was a celebrity judge in Top Chef and MasterChef. Forbes magazine rates her as the fourth richest chef with total earnings in 2012, at around $17 million.
This Italian-American chef, writer and restaurateur is also a well-known food historian, specializing in the history and culture of Italian cuisine. He is the co-owner of numerous restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Westport and also in Hong Kong and Singapore. His life is the perfect example of the rags to riches story. During college, he worked as a dishwasher in New Jersey, after which he went on to become a pizza maker. His next job was of a kitchen assistant, followed by that of a sous chef at Santa Barbara, where he became the highest paid young chef at the age of 27. He hosted a number of shows on the 'Food Network' including Molto Mario, Mario Eats Italy and Ciao America with Mario Batali. In 1999, Batali was awarded the Man of the Year award in the Gentleman's Quarterly's (GQ) chef category. In 2008, the James Beard Foundation honored him with the Outstanding Restaurateur award. He bags the place of the fifth richest chef and, according to Forbes, he has total earnings of around $13 million in 2012.
The list of great chefs, however, cannot be complete without mentioning those select few, who, though no more with us, continue to inspire generations of new entrants in the field.
Alexis Soyer (1810 - 1858)
The cook, the inventor, the man who cooked exclusive and extravagant dinners for the elite class. The man who also cooked for peasants, Soyer seems to have been an immensely resourceful personality. He is known to have designed a modern kitchen in London's Reform Club, which contained ovens with adjustable temperatures and refrigerators that were cooled by water. During the Crimean War, he fed the wounded soldiers, and helped them recover. He also invented a field stove for the army, and named it the Soyer stove. He is also known to have invented the soup kitchen during the Great Irish Famine of 1847. His famous writings include Soyer's Charitable Cookery and Soyer's Culinary Campaign, amongst others.
Auguste Escoffier (1846 - 1935)
The French government exalted Escoffier as a Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur in 1920 and as an Officer in 1928. The German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II called him 'the Emperor of chefs'. Escoffier wrote many books out of which Le Guide Culinaire, Le Livre des Menus and Ma Cuisine became most popular. He was the one who laid the foundation of a modern professional kitchen and developed the first ever à la carte menu.
Fernand Point (1897 - 1955)
He is the considered to be the Father of Modern French Cuisine. Point is undoubtedly one of the greatest chefs ever. When he was only 26, he established Restaurant de la Pyramide in Vienne, France, as an international gastronomic mecca. His culinary mentor-ship resulted in the creation of some of the world's renowned chefs including François Bise, Alain Chapel, Louis Outhier, Paul Bocuse, Jean and Pierre Troisgros.
James Beard (1903 - 1985)
He is considered the Father of American Gastronomy. In 1955, he established 'The James Beard Cooking School', where he taught cooking to men and women for about 30 years. He wrote several books on cooking, which went on to become classics. Some of these include, The James Beard Cookbook, James Beard's Treasury of Outdoor Cooking, Delights and Prejudices and James Beard's American Cookery. When he died in 1985, he left a legacy of culinary excellence for upcoming generations of professional chefs.
Julia Child (1912 - 2004)
She was a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and a co-founder of the American Institute of Wine and Food. In 1963, the TV cooking show The French Chef, anchored by her, was a huge success. She wrote several cookbooks, of which Mastering the Art of French Cooking published in 1961 was immensely popular. Child started L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, a cooking school, in 1951 along with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.
The list of great chefs also cannot be complete without the mention of those, who, though not on the list of world's top ten chefs, are definitely famous enough owing to their exceptional contribution and innovation in this field.
He is the Father of Modern Spanish Cuisine. Admirers come from different corners of the world to elBulli, his restaurant in Roses, Spain. He uses new techniques and cooking appliances, and is wonderfully creative. In his experiments, he skews ingredients to unexpected textures and serves them at unconventional temperatures.
He is altering the definition of American food. He is trying to prove that American cuisine is not limited to bland, mass market and prepackaged food. One of Washington D.C.'s premier restaurant's, the Watershed, is his creation.
He is an internationally recognized North Californian chef specializing in wine country cuisine. He has authored books like American Game Cooking: A Contemporary Guide to preparing Farm-Raised Game Birds and Meats and From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine. Cream Almond Fresh Oysters and Chocolate Truffle Trot are some of his delicacies that enjoy international acclaim.
He is a British chef and restaurateur who has anchored numerous food-centric television shows including The Naked Chef, Oliver's Twist, Jamie's Great Italian Escape, and What's cooking? with Jamie Oliver. Oliver has also authored several cookbooks and his recent campaign against the use of processed foods in national schools has garnered a lot of attention.
Referred to, as the Hottest chef in the world by the People magazine, he is an Indian chef, restaurateur and a food writer, famous for blending spirituality and food culture. He also anchored the 2nd season of the television reality show, MasterChef India. Some of the books authored by him include The Cuisine of Gandhi, The Spice Story of India and Flavors First: An Indian Chef's Culinary Journey, apart from others. His New York-based restaurant Junoon has been awarded a Michelin star for 2012 and 2013.
Every chef is great in his/her own way and deserves a mention on the list. However, that is an impossible task. The field of culinary arts is so vast that every day a new star is added to it. And this will go on continuing forever, as long as we humans will continue to crave for newer and tastier cuisines.