CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 02: Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay prepares the food for the opening party in his maze Restaurant at the new One&Only Cape Town resort on April 2, 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa. Today is the Grand Opening of Sol Kerzner's first hotel in his home country since 1992. The 130 room property is One&Only's first Urban resort and sits in the fashionable Waterfront district. Celebrities from all over the world including Mariah Carey, Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Thandie Newton, Marisa Tomei will attend the event. Gordon Ramsay will be launching his first restaurant in Africa at the resort, Maze and Robert De Niro will be opening Nobu. Nelson Mandela will be attending an intimate luncheon at Maze on Friday to celebrate his long-standing relationship with Mr. Kerzner. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Image: Thomas Keller attends the grand opening of his restaurant, Bouchon, on November 16, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California.
These days, being a celebrity chef requires much more than just impressive culinary skills. Famous foodies like Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray, for example, have branded everything from cookware and magazines to restaurants and spice rubs. Here, check out the personalities who have set the culinary world on fire.
The chef, who is co-founder of Gramercy Tavern in New York City and the founder of the Craft restaurant chain, became a household name as the no-nonsense head judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”
The Swedish chef, who was born in Ethiopia, had the honor of serving as guest chef for the Obama administration’s first state dinner in 2009. As executive chef of New York City’s Aquavit restaurant, he was also the youngest chef to receive a three-star restaurant review from The New York Times. He has a second restaurant, Riingo, and has appeared on “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef Masters.”
This health-conscious Food Network star finds ways to make even decadent desserts nutritious on her show “Healthy Appetite.” She is the author of two cookbooks and is a registered dietitian and nutritionist.
Good luck getting a reservation at this Korean-American chef’s popular New York City restaurant group, Momofuku. Chang catapulted to celebrity status in the past couple of years after receiving rave reviews for his food, and people continue battling to get reservations to his restaurants, which have extremely limited seating. Chang has appeared on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”
She was an unlikely candidate for becoming the face of French cooking, but that’s exactly what Julia Child did after writing “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” in 1961, making fancy French cooking accessible to Americans. She had several shows, including “The French Chef,” which premiered in 1961, and “Baking with Julia” and “Julia Child and Jacques Pepin Cooking At Home” in the ’90s. In 2004, she died from kidney failure two days before her 92nd birthday.
The French chef and restaurateur was awarded the highest honor from the Michelin dinging guide – garnering three stars for his eponymous restaurant, Daniel, in New York City. He owns 10 restaurants and hosts the show “After Hours with Daniel,” a program by chefs for chefs that showcases late-night dinners with culinary experts.
Known for his fusion dishes, the Chinese-American chef hosts the PBS show “Simply Ming” and has appeared on “Iron Chef America.” In addition, he was also named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 2000. His restaurant, Blue Ginger, is located in Wellesley, Mass., and features an “East meets West” menu with dishes like pan roasted veal chop with Dijon-demi, soba-bacon spaetzle, sake braised cabbage and Asian pear chutney.
Chef Mario Batali is shown at Babbo, one of the New York City restaurants he co-owns and operates. Batali, along with sharing his love of good food by way of his television cooking shows, writes cookbooks: His latest is "The Babbo Cookbook.''
The statuesque “Top Chef” host has written two cookbooks featuring Indian fusion recipes. She modeled for several years and previously hosed a Food Network series called “Padma’s Passport.” She was married to author Salman Rushdie for three years, but the couple divorced in 2007. In February 2010, she gave birth to a daughter, Krishna, confirming a month later that the child’s father is Adam Dell.
The bleach blond blinged-out chef and restaurant owner gained fame after winning the second season of “The Next Food Network Star” and soon got his own show, “Guy’s Big Bite.” He then got a second show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” and since has appeared on several other cooking and food competition shows. He co-owns five California restaurants, including Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi’s, and is now the host of the NBC game show, “Minute To Win It.”
The executive chef and part-owner of the world-famous Le Bernardin in New York City was born in France and learned his culinary skills from his grandmother. The restaurant, dubbed the “Temple of Seafood,” is one of the highest rated restaurants in the world. Ripert has appeared on “Top Chef” and on several episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”
“Börk, börk, börk!” The Swedish Chef character from “The Muppet Show” was created as a parody of TV chefs.
The Aussie heartthrob and chef has made several appearances on TODAY as well “The Biggest Loser” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He started his culinary career at the Savoy Hotel in Australia at 18 years old and soon did television in the UK. He also starred in TLC’s “Take Home Chef” and is the author of several cookbooks. In 2006, he was named one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive.
After blinding viewers with food science on the Food Network show "Good Eats," quirky chef Alton Brown also worked on a road-tripping series for the network called "Feasting on Asphalt." He has authored three books, including one devoted to baking and one about kitchen gadgets.
Former Les Halles executive chef, author and intrepid eater Anthony Bourdain wrote a bestselling 2000 memoir, "Kitchen Confidential," which revealed the good, bad and downright dirty bits of the culinary underbelly. He went on to author more books, articles, blogs and essays. His Travel Channel series, "No Reservations," has made him a household name.
In 2005, Cat Cora became the first female Iron Chef on the Food Network program "Iron Chef America." The Mississippi native is the author of two cookbooks, and also the co-founder of Chefs for Humanity, a non-profit that was created in response to the 2004 tsunami disaster.
Despite her lack of formal culinary training, bubbly Southern chef Paula Deen found success as a TV personality though her Food Network program, "Paula's Home Cooking," and later through "Paula's Party." Her lifestyle magazine, called "Cooking with Paula Deen," launched in 2005.
Queens-born chef, cookbook author and restaurant owner Rocco DiSpirito is known for his Italian-American cooking and fusion cuisine. He started his TV career with the NBC reality show, "The Restaurant,' which followed the opening of his restuarant, Rocco's on 22nd Street, which closed in 2004. He's also made himself a presence on NBC's "Biggest Loser" franchise and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
This celebrity chef has starred in cooking shows like "Cooking with Todd English" and "Food Trip with Todd English," and is known for his Massachusetts flagship restaurant, Olives, which now has locations across the country. English made headlines in 2009 when he broke up with fiancee Erica Wang just before their wedding, and Wang decided to still attend the event as a party for herself.
Although she has no formal culinary training, Ina Garten managed to make a name for herself as the "Barefoot Contessa," which is also the name of her gourmet food store (now closed) and her Food Network show. She also authors cookbooks and has a branded line of convenience foods.
BAM! Perhaps one of the best-known celebrity chefs, Emeril Lagasse helms an empire of media, products, books and restaurants. He became a familiar face to fans via his Food Network shows, "Emeril Live" and "Essence of Emeril."
Tyler Florence's brand of "honest" cooking led him to the Food Network lineup, where he hosted several shows, including "Food 911," "How to Boil Water," and "Tyler's Ultimate." He has also published cookbooks which focus on simple, uncomplicated recipes.
Specializing in American southwestern cuisine, Bobby Flay is the owner and executive chef of restaurants like Mesa Grill, which has multiple locations. He has hosted several Food Network shows, including "Boy Meets Grill" and "Throwdown! with Bobby Flay." The award-winning cookbook author is also currently an Iron Chef on the network's "Iron Chef America."
Italian-American chef and TODAY guest co-host Giada De Laurentiis hosts a handful of Food Network programs, including "Everyday Italian." Some of her projects are the show, "Giada at Home," five cookbooks including "Giada's Kitchen" and 'Giada At Home," and a baby daughter named Jade.
•Giada De Laurentiis has baby girl!
Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto is best known for his unique fusion cuisine and his status as an Iron Chef on both the Japanese and American versions of the program. After working as executive chef at New York City's Nobu, he opened his own restaurant, Morimoto, which has multiple locations.
Though not a trained chef, Nigella Lawson became a household name after the success of her popular books, such as "How to Eat." Her widespread acclaim continued with the launch of her cooking/lifestyle TV series "Nigella Feasts," "Nigella Express" and most recently "Nigella Bites."
For Jamie Oliver, cooking is all about stripping food down to the bare essentials, so it makes sense that he's best known as "The Naked Chef." After the success of his books and television series, the English chef decided to give back to the community by launching "Feed Me Better," a national campaign for more nutritious school lunches. This led to his current project, "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," on ABC.
•Jamie Oliver's perfect pasta
Jacques Pepin is one of America's best-known chefs, the author of 25 cookbooks and host of nine acclaimed public television cooking series. His next cookbook and TV series, called "More Fast Food My Way" which debuted in 2008.
Credited with reviving California's culinary scene, Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck is best known for cooking and catering to world leaders and Hollywood stars. He has a collection of restaurants, as well as a line of convenience foods, and has authored a number of cookbooks.
Simple recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes are the foundation of Rachael Ray's media empire, which includes multiple Food Network series, a syndicated talk show, best-selling cookbooks, a magazine, TV commercials and product endorsements. Ray draws upon her Sicilian/Cajun-French heritage in her cooking style.
Alice Waters has become the face and voice of the locally grown, fresh food movement. She is credited with developing California Cuisine and promotes organic food, campaigning for and succeeding in bringing healthier food to the Berkeley, Calif. school system. She is the co-owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
China-born Martin Yan has been a familiar face on public television since 1982, teaching such essentials of Cantonese-style cooking as steaming and stir-frying on the series "Yan Can Cook." Yan incorporates gentle humor into his cooking: His catchphrase is "If Yan can cook, so can you!"
The unlikely hero of the animated family comedy "Ratatouille," Remy is a French rat with an extraordinary sense of smell and the soul of a great chef -- attributes he uses to guide a clumsy kitchen janitor to culinary triumph. Comedian Patton Oswalt supplied Remy's voice in the critically acclaimed hit.