11 Most Famous Chefs in the World and Their Claims to Fame
Who do you automatically think of when someone says the word chef? Depending on the kind of TV shows someone watches and how skilled of a cook they are, you might get several different answers featuring chefs with differing levels of fame.
If you’re an aspiring chef yourself, take a look at the most famous chefs and their claims to fame.
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1. Guy Fieri
If you flip on the Food Network at any given time, you have a pretty good chance of seeing one of the most famous (and recognizable) chefs in America, Guy Fieri. Known for his iconic highlighted hair, Oakley sunglasses and bowling shirts, Fieri is maybe the most mainstream famous chef.
Fieri is an Emmy award-winning chef who owns three California restaurants and also licenses out his name and infamous “Flavortown” catchphrase to restaurants across the country. His name carries so much weight because of his two long-running TV Shows, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Guy’s Grocery Games. He even hosted the non-cooking TV game show Minute To Win It for two seasons because of his charismatic personality. This is why he’s not just one of the most famous chefs, but maybe the most famous chef on TV.
2. Gordon Ramsay
The eternally angry culinary critic Gordon Ramsay is one of the most famous chefs on TV, known for the harsh words he shares with the people on his shows like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen. These shows had such mainstream popularity and success in the UK that they were brought over the pond for American audiences, plus Ramsay has gone on to host several other shows including MasterChef, The F Word, and Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.
Although he’s most known for his TV shows, Ramsay’s skills as a Michelin-Starred cook are how he became a famous chef in the first place. His most notable restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, in London has been a Michelin 3-starred restaurant since 2001, and his restaurants have been awarded 16 Michelin Stars in total. Although you enjoy seeing him on TV, you’d probably enjoy eating a meal from this chef even more.
3. JJ Johnson
One of the most exciting famous chefs in America right now is JJ Johnson. At age 36, he’s already a James Beard Foundation Book Award winner for his Afro-Asian inspired cookbook Between Harlem and Heaven. He first entered the public eye after winning Rocco’s Dinner Party on Bravo and, after his victory, he caught the eye of many restaurateurs. Among them were the owners of The Cecil, who asked Johnson to create their new menu, leading to them being named Best New American Restaurant in 2013.
He recently used his culinary stardom and unique take on the Caribbean, Asian and African food cultures to open up FIELDTRIP, a fast casual rice bowl shop in New York City. He’s also a featured chef on Tasty by Buzzfeed, with posts that garner hundreds of thousands of views. Still younger than most of the famous chefs on our list, he is sure to be in the spotlight for many years to come.
4. Bobby Flay
Bobby Flay is like the less-spicy Gordon Ramsay. He too is one of the most famous chefs on TV and is easily recognizable from appearing on the Food Network shows Iron Chef, Beat Bobby Flay, Food Nation, The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Worst Cooks In America. He’s even done a bit of acting, with cameo appearances on Law & Order: SVU and Entourage.
While Bobby is a famous television chef, his cooking skills off-screen are not to be doubted. As part of the first graduating class of the French Culinary Institute, Flay became skilled in Cajun and southwestern dishes, which is how he got started at a restaurant he now owns, Mesa Grill. Flay has an impressive portfolio of restaurants, including Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, Bobby Flay Steak in Atlantic City, Gato in New York and Bar American at Mohegan Sun Casino. For those looking for more casual offerings from Flay, customers can check out any of his 19 Bobby’s Burger Palace locations. As he is a famous chef from NYC however, one of his hometown establishments is where you’ll have the best bet of spotting him.
5. Rachael Ray
Known for her catchphrase “Yum-O!” Rachael Ray is one of the most famous chefs in America and on TV. Her daytime cooking and talk show, Rachael Ray, has been airing since 2005. Like most other famous chefs on TV, she’s hosted multiple spin-off shows, including Rachael’s Tasty Travels, 30 Minute Meals, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and $40 a Day. She’s even won 3 Daytime Emmys for her programs.
Rachael is most famous for her delicious recipes that you can make in just half an hour. She learned her culinary skills a bit differently than some of the others on this list, simply by listening to her mother and grandmother in the kitchen. Her lack of “formal training” has led to her success as a relatable chef with tips for the everyday person. She’s so popular that she also has her own magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and is a best-selling cookbook author.
6. Sunny Anderson
Although it may be what some foodies know her from, Sunny Anderson is much more than just a famous chef on TV. She is most famous for being a host of The Kitchen on the Food Network, along with other programs like How’d That Get On My Plate? and Cooking for Real. She isn’t tied down to just being a culinary TV personality, however—she was also a radio personality from 1995-2005 in San Antonio, Louisville and New York. It’s her perfect mix of entertainment, personality and genuine cooking finesse that’s made her one of the most successful and famous chefs on TV.
Sunny grew up in an Army family and moved from country to country as a child, learning about the best foods from regions across Europe. She herself joined the Air Force and honed her skills as a radio host while in South Korea, doing programming for the military base there. With a background like that, she was destined for fame.
7. Wolfgang Puck
One of the more successful businessmen in the restaurant industry, Wolfgang Puck has earned his place as one of the most famous chefs in recent memory. He’s been cooking up top-tier meals since 1973 and started multiple companies to share his culinary gifts, including Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc.
But he’s not all business, Puck has also appeared on multiple TV shows. He’s been on culinary TV shows like Iron Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef and Celebrity Cooking Showdown. Like some of our other famous chefs, he’s also made acting cameos in multiple shows, like The Simpsons, Frasier, CSI and Las Vegas. Still don’t believe he’s one of the most famous chefs in America? Well, he also catered Kim Kardashian’s first wedding, and if he’s associated with that family, he’s certified famous.
8. Masaharu Morimoto
You’ve probably heard of Iron Chef: America, but Masaharu Morimoto actually won several times on the Japanese version of the show before the American version was even created. He is one of the most famous chefs on TV in the world because of it and has won several times on Iron Chef America as well.
Morimoto’s big winning streak on Iron Chef can be attributed to his extensive training in sushi and traditional Japanese cuisine. He brought his signature flavor to the States when he opened up his restaurant Morimoto in Philadelphia in the early 2000s and has since opened up more locations in Napa Valley and New York City. He has several restaurant concepts across the US, Canada and Asia, further solidifying his place as one of the most famous chefs in the world.
9. Carla Hall
Carla Hall is known for being a famous chef on TV mainly because of her multiple appearances on the hit shows Top Chef and Iron Chef: America. She became a fan favorite on those series and eventually landed a gig as a co-host on the daytime cooking talk show The Chew.
Despite being a famous chef now, Carla was a model and certified accountant before switching to the chef life. One day she brought some sandwiches over to her friend’s office and they were such a hit, she decided to enroll in culinary school and start a new career. That move definitely paid off, as Carla now makes regular TV appearances, owns a restaurant and has a popular cookbook.
10. Jamie Oliver
One of the most famous British chefs, Jamie Oliver has plenty of claims to fame. He’s cooked for the Prime Minister of the UK, his cookbook The Naked Chef is a bestseller and in 2003 he was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire. He’s gone on to host many culinary TV shows, most notably The Naked Chef in the UK.
His charisma and knowledge of Italian comfort food led to the creation of his company, The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. The group at one point boasted over 40 locations but went bankrupt in 2018 with little chance of recouping money. Despite that business venture failing, he is still hosting cooking shows, selling cookbooks and appearing on other television shows.
11. Martha Stewart
Although she is technically a famous cook, Martha Stewart has certainly transcended that title during her time in entertainment. Her TV show Martha Stewart Living covered cooking, interior design, crafting and so much more. She hit a bump in the road in 2003 when she was indicted for fraud and obstruction of justice, but against all odds she had her comeback just a few years later.
She has her Martha Stewart Living magazine and website which still publishes recipes people can make in the comfort of their homes. She also has a new show on HGTV called Martha Knows Best, in which she helps decorate her celebrity friends’ homes. It should be noted, one of these celebrity friends is none other than Snoop Dogg, who she had a television show, Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, with for two seasons on VH1. One of the most famous chefs on TV and arguably one of the most recognizable personalities on TV, Martha Stewart is a household name that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Feeling inspired yet? This list shows that anyone can become a successful—and even famous—chef, no matter where you honed your skills. If you’re thinking about opening a restaurant or want to take yours to the next level, find out how Lightspeed can help.