#10 Paula Deen - Net Worth $10,000,000
Author of 14 cook books and star of 3 cooking shows, Paula Deen is the celebrity chef many known as the “lady who uses too much butter”. Paula embodies the hand me down cooking of traditional southern cuisine. Southern cooking is known for a shameless use of fat, carbs, and sugars. While the world was busy being obsessed with kale salads Paula was just being herself. The shock value alone was enough to sky rocket her genuine and fun loving nature into the spotlight.
Paula Deen didn't become a chef until she was 42 years old. After trying several failed career choices, she took her last $200 and spent it to start a catering company she called The Bag Lady, which eventually became a restaurant in Savannah, GA. Her down home meals were so popular that she was awarded USA Today's International Meal of the Year title, an award that rushed her directly into the spotlight, full steam ahead.
In 2013 Paula was diagnosed with type II diabetes, causing her to change her well known and well-loved way of indulgence to something a bit more responsible. Paula’s rainy day became a downpour when she was sued by a former employee for racial and sexual harassment. While Paula confidently states to this day that she is not a racist, the Food Network and her publisher Random House decided they could no longer weather the storm.
Later again, in 2015, a photo she posted on her social media accounts got her back into controversy. The incident, popularly known as "brownface" on social media, resulted in Paula Deen Ventures terminating their relationship with the social media manager who actually posted it.
In spite of all this Paula continues to be successful, and has managed to retain a net worth of over $10,000,000 to this day.
#9 Giada De Laurentiis - Net Worth $15,000,000
What does it take to become a top rated celebrity chef? How about a degree in Social Anthropology from UCLA, a little bit of acting in your blood, and a strong desire to stay away from the camera despite your parents being famous movie stars?
Giada De Laurentiis was born in Rome to movie star parents. Her grandfather owned the DDL food show, and her grandmother sold homemade pasta. Giada chose anthropology and tried her best to stay on that path, but found it hard to stay away from the kitchen. Cooking made her feel connected to her family. After she finished her degree at UCLA, she decided to return to Europe to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, which ultimately landed her a job with Wolfgang Puck, and started her on the road to fame and fortune.
De Laurentiis somehow managed to turn an article in a popular food and wine magazine into her very own show on the Food Network. She quickly cruised onward to win a daytime Emmy award, with many attributing this to her beauty instead of any real cooking skill. The Food Network stood behind her, however, and Giada managed to build a steady following which eventually turned into $15,000,000.
#8 Bobby Flay - Net Worth $20,000,000
Bobby Flay’s faced paced and flamboyant lifestyle have turned him into one of the most recognized names among celebrity chefs. Having dropped out of school at 17, his first job was as a stock broker's assistant at the New York Stock Exchange; giving him his first insight into how the wealthy live. His childhood passion for cooking could not be ignored and he eventually decided to change career paths. He took the first job he could find in a restaurant; as a busboy and dishwasher. The owner must have seen the latent talent hidden within, because he sent Bobby to culinary school; paying out of pocket. This launched what is now the Flay Dynasty, encompassing more books, restaurants, and TV shows than can be listed. It seems almost as if he’s starring in a new show every month, complete with syndication and product placement. Not many can say they turned a busboy’s job into an empire.
#7 Mario Batali - Net Worth $25,000,000
Anyone who has spent the day binge watching Food Network has seen Mario Batali in action. Many believe the plump, happy go lucky redhead to be from Italy, but he actually grew up in Seattle. Mario went straight from culinary school to a fine eatery in Italy called Borgo Capanne; something almost unheard of in the culinary world. He is now an expert on the history and culture of Italian cuisine, which might have something to do with his supposed provenance.
Although Mario has his share of lucrative cookbooks, notable television shows, and undefeated restaurants, he is heavily involved in activism as well. He also spends his free time working hard to ensure that everyone gets enough to eat by working with the New York Food Bank, the Lunchbox Fund, and his own project: The Mario Batali Foundation.
Mario’s business partner (and self-admitted snob) wrote a book about what it’s like to work in famous restaurants with Mario. He claims that Mario is stricter than most with his money; carefully seeking out cheats and tricks for every single item used in the house. He's an artist of this craft; guests find it impossible to tell the difference, and all of his establishments run like a finely oiled machine. This highly developed business sense, along with his culinary skills have earned him a cool $25,000,000. Some of which he has used to purchase 200 pairs of his signature orange clogs.
#6 Ina Garten - Net Worth $44,000,000
What do the White House and food have in common? They both share their history with Ina Garten. Ina actually began her professional career as a staffer at the White House Office of Budget and Management. She found this position to be intellectually stimulating, but was never really passionate about it. On a whim Ina decided to purchase a grocery store named “The Barefoot Contessa”, taking the moniker and making it her own. Barefoot Contessa became such a huge hit that it even has been used as the setting for various movies. After two strong decades, Ina became bored and was once again hungry for a new challenge. She built offices above her store and took to stock trading and business ventures of a wide variety. It wasn't long before the Food Network got wind of this well-established gourmet food store and served up several propositions for a cooking show. It took several tries before she finally agreed to give it a try. Ina Garten quickly became not just a New York staple, but a worldwide phenomenon.
#5 Emeril Lagasse - Net Worth $50,000,000
Brace yourself because Emeril Lagasse is about to grab everything you own and enthusiastically kick it up a notch! Emeril is best known for covering everything in hot sauce or spice while yelling his catchphrases: “Bam!” “Kick it up a notch!” and “Feel the Love!”.
Emeril's unique style of cuisine is called “New New Orleans”. It is a modified take on Cajun recipes and techniques, and are notoriously spicy. So much spice that NASA hired him to create meals for astronauts touring on the ISS. It turns out that microgravity deadens your taste buds; and NASA was on a mission to make dinners at the ISS a bit more satisfying. Emeril's extra heat did the trick.
His uniqueness, positive energy, and giant heart have made him into a brand known the world over. He owns the most recognized face in the business; with his picture on everything from salad dressing to pasta, and everything in between. Sounds like this jokester has earned his 50 million.
#4 Rachael Ray - Net Worth $60,000,000
Whenever someone brings up the topic of celebrity chefs, Rachael Ray almost always comes to mind first. She’s everywhere you look. The grocery store checkout line is full of cooking magazines with Rachel on the cover. The cookware aisle is dominated by her products. She even has a line of gourmet dog food. Rachael Ray is the face of the Food Network; turning her into the de facto face of celebrity cooking. She's fun, warm, and down to earth. Rachael herself denies that she's anything more than average saying “I have no formal anything. I’m completely unqualified for any job I've ever had. I’m not a chef!”.
This is the truth. Rachel got her start at a grocery store. She met a lot of people who were very reluctant to cook and started teaching a class called “30 Minute Meals” which she somehow managed to transform into the most watched cooking show on the Food Network. Her cooking techniques have been heavily criticized by other chefs because she does not actually measure her ingredients. On her shows you will catch her saying things such as “use a half a palm of salt, and around a cup or so of milk”. She couldn't care less about the critics, maintaining that exact measurements take the creativity and fun out of cooking.
#3 Wolfgang Puck - Net Worth $75,000,000
Wolfgang Puck is originally from Austria and learned cooking from his mother, a pastry chef. After coming to the United States he opened a small restaurant he named Spago and has been a legend ever since. His skill even transformed Spago into one of the 40 best restaurants in America. You might remember him as the chef that discovered Giada De Laurentiis. He has earned numerous Michelin stars for his well-appointed and astonishingly beautiful dining rooms.
Mr. Puck recently started a chain named “Wolfgang Puck Express”, opening locations in airports around the world. These establishments allow the well-traveled access to fine dining in a place that is often known to have a limited selection of meal choices. Tragically, one of his restaurants recently went up in flames during the 2015 firework disaster at a high rise in Dubai. It’s a good thing he has 29 other venues, and $75,000,000 to hold him over until he can reopen.
#2 Gordon Ramsay - Net Worth $118,000,000
Notorious hot head Gordon Ramsay was born to be a tough competitor, so it’s no surprise that he became the second richest celebrity chef on this list. Born in Scotland with a penchant to win, he started his life like so many other cooks and celebrities: doing something else. Gordon first unleashed his fighting spirit on a pitch playing soccer. He admits that soccer did not go as planned, as he played a little too rough and collected a body full of scars and injuries. Gordon was and still is a huge fan of sports, especially the Queens Park Rangers in Glasgow, Scotland. He once tried out for the Rangers and even competed in two trial games, but was forced to leave due to a back injury. He channeled this upset into his cooking career, and considers it a formative event in his life.
Ramsay is known more than anything for his various competitive and foul mouthed TV shows such as Hell's Kitchen, Boiling Point, and Kitchen Nightmares. Strangely, Gordon says he didn't even realize how much profanity he was using on TV until recently, when he sat down and watched an episode of Boiling Point. He has tried to soften his image lately by working with young children in a positive and considerate manner with his new TV show MasterChef Junior.
Gordon has been sued many times over the years by participants on his show Kitchen Nightmares. Most of these cases were either dismissed or won by Ramsey, but the reputation remains. He has been called a selfish and cruel narcissist by the many vegetarians he has (possibly unwittingly) insulted over the years. This culminated in an invitation to visit a pig farm which Gordon accepted. While at the farm Ramsay had a change of heart and apologized publicly stating that "It's enough to make anyone turn f*****g vegetarian, for God's sake. And I've always sort of knocked vegetarians and vegans for missing out on the most amazing flavor you can get from meat. But you can see why so many people change instantly.” Hot head or not Chef Ramsey takes home enough cash to make anyone envious.
#1 Jamie Oliver - Net Worth $400,000,000
What would you do with $400,000,000? Would you spend it on yourself, or would you help others? Jamie Oliver has done a bit of both. His most recent accomplishment was convincing McDonald's, one of the world's biggest fast food chains, to stop using their infamous pink slime as the main ingredient in Chicken McNuggets. Oliver also won a TED Award for his impressive presentation of the food revolution. During the talk he shared facts about how poorly people are eating, especially children. The talk made a fantastic case as to how this is negatively impacting our health. His food revolution even sparked nutritional reform in the United Kingdom.
While Oliver's altruism and public service have been his prized honor, he still has plenty of cookbooks, restaurants and shows to be proud of. These include the Naked Chef TV series and 15 restaurants that help those with a disadvantaged background learn culinary skills.
Unfortunately, Oliver has also received his share of controversy, just like everyone else. He was once criticized for butchering a live and fully conscious goat on live TV, which was as graphic as it sounds. Jamie has also been bashed for creating a series of TV shows aimed at teaching people with low incomes how to cook healthy meals on a budget. His heart was in the right place, but his idea of “on a budget” was a bit different from the rest of us. Is it possible that his $400,000,000 fortune may have skewed his perception of personal finance?