In today’s world of celebrity chefs, reality cooking competitions, and mega-restaurants, slinging hash can lead to a life of luxury. Take Gordon Ramsay’s net worth for example. His success has made him a household name, and when he’s not famously scaring the bejeezus out of his own restaurant staffers and aspiring cooks on Hell’s Kitchen, he splits his time between a $6.75 million Bel Air mansion and two luxury homes in England.
Unfortunately, there’s been some misinformation floating around that the richest chef in the world is Hawaiian chef Alan Wong and that he’s worth $1.1 billion. (We’re sure he’s done well in his career, but many publications are confusing him for billionaire tech exec Allan Wong.)
We’ve rounded up the top 10 richest celebrity chefs in 2021. The wealthiest person on our list doesn’t come close to cracking the billion-dollar mark, but they’re still living large. Find out who they are, how much they’re worth, and how they amassed their fortune.
10. Ina Garten
When Ina Garten left her job at the White House Office of Management and Budget to open a specialty foods shop in the Hamptons, she probably never expected to wind up with an estimated net worth of $50 million.
But the self-taught chef became a smashing success with her TV show, The Barefoot Contessa, and countless cookbooks. Cooking for Jeffrey—the title is a reference to her husband—was the best-selling cookbook of 2016, selling 406,599 copies. (Compare this to the second-place title, Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings, which sold 276,326 copies.) In 2020, she was still going strong, earning the Number 2 spot on the New York Times best-seller list for Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.
Garten capitalized on her fame with her own line of packaged foods, sold exclusively through upscale retailers. She has also enjoyed a renewed surge in popularity during the pandemic; a new generation of fans has contributed to an Instagram following of over 3.1 million.
9. Bobby Flay
Bobby Flay is best known for being a TV star, but his estimated $60 million net worth is based on a massive empire. Aside from hosting various shows on the Food Network (Beat Bobby Flay, Iron Chef, Throwdown! with Bobby Flay), he is the chef and owner of several popular restaurants.
Flay has written over a dozen cookbooks and hosts a weekly call-in show on Sirius XM with his daughter Sophie. He is also the co-owner of Rock Shrimp, a multimedia production company that creates television programs, commercials, and multimedia content.
He even applies his culinary knowledge to pet food. Flay owns Made by Nacho, a cat food brand named after his orange Maine Coon.
8. David Chang
Korean-American chef David Chang launched his career with Momofuku, a tiny counter-service ramen joint in Manhattan’s East Village. Today, it’s estimated that he’s worth an astonishing $60 million.
Chang took full advantage of his status as a culinary darling in the 2000s. He expanded his tiny noodle shop into a massive restaurant group with properties in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Toronto.
He’s also a major media presence. Chang produced and starred in two seasons of the Netflix food docuseries Ugly Delicious; he also co-founded the now-defunct but wildly popular food magazine Lucky Peach. He currently hosts his own podcast, The Dave Chang Show, on The Ringer network.
Chang’s fortune spiked in 2018 when venture capitalists poured $25 million into his restaurant group. Chang is a venture capitalist himself, as well: according to Crunchbase, he was recently involved in a $42 million investment in Foxtrot, a food and beverage delivery app.
7. Emeril Lagasse
Who could have imagined that coining the catchphrase “Bam!” would lead to a $70 million fortune? Emeril Lagasse has been cooking since the 1970s, but his 13-year run as the host of Emeril Live made him a bonafide star.
Lagasse, known for his modern Cajun cuisine, owns a number of restaurants across the U.S. He is also the author of almost 20 cookbooks. But his largest source of income comes from licensing and endorsements. Lagasse lends his name to a line of food, kitchen knives, cookware, and appliances. In 2008, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. acquired the rights to his TV shows and products for $50 million.
Not that he needed the cash. Three years earlier, he told Wine Spectator that he was worth “at least $150 million.”
6. Rachael Ray
Let’s not debate whether or not Rachael Ray is a “real chef.” The woman may have never owned a restaurant, but her successful run on the Food Network (and every venture that followed) proves that Americans depend on her for dinner ideas. And her likable nature has generated an estimated net worth of roughly $80 million.
Ray oversees an empire that includes an eponymous syndicated talk show (now in its 15th season), Nutrish pet food, kitchen products, furniture, and a self-titled magazine. She also has endorsement deals with Nabisco and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Like Bobby Flay, she seems to pour her money into real estate. In addition to a massive home in Lake Luzerne, New York, she owns a 1,800-square-foot apartment in Manhattan. In August 2020, she sold a home in Southampton for $3.25 million.
5. Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller is estimated to have a net worth of roughly $90 million. How did one man manage to make that much moolah without diluting his brand? Perhaps by charging $850 a head to dine at his flagship restaurant, The French Laundry.
The James Beard award winner and Culinary Hall of Famer is the only American chef to have simultaneously earned three coveted Michelin stars for two separate restaurants (The French Laundry and Per Se).
He also has an unexpected side hustle in entertainment. Keller served as a consultant for Spanglish (starring Adam Sandler) and the animated film Ratatouille. He can currently be found leading online cooking lessons through Masterclass.
4. Wolfgang Puck
Austrian-American chef Wolfgang Puck, who has been beloved ever since he opened Spago in the 1980s, has an estimated net worth of just over $100 million.
Puck’s eponymous company includes a massive portfolio of restaurants, a catering company, and licensed products. His name is plastered on wine, coffee, and cookware, and he can often be seen hawking goods on HSN.
Puck not only feeds celebrities but lives like one, too. His company has catered the Academy Awards for over 25 years; after the Oscars are handed out, he retires to his $14 million Bel Air mansion.
3. Nobu Matsuhisa
Japanese Nobu Matsuhisa has Robert De Niro to thank for his estimated $200 million net worth. In 1994, he and the actor partnered to open the first Nobu in New York City’s Tribeca. It was an instant hot spot and marked the birth of a culinary empire. You’d be hard-pressed to find a celebrity who hasn’t been seated at one of his restaurants.
Nobu has since branched out into the hotel business. The brand has 13 locations from Manila to Marbella.
2. Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay was a serious fine-dining chef in the 1990s and 2000s, known for his high standards and impeccable technique. But the reality series Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares introduced him to American audiences and contributed to his estimated net worth of $220 million.
Ramsay has opened 17 restaurants in the U.S., from the Michelin-rated Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood to a self-titled fish and chips shop in Orlando, Florida. He’s written over two dozen books and appeared on even more TV shows. And none of this includes the scores of restaurants he owns abroad.
In 2019, Forbes reported that Ramsay inked a $100 million deal with private equity firm Lion Capital to open 100 new eateries in the U.S. by 2024.
1. Jamie Oliver
English chef Jamie Oliver has built an estimated $350 million net worth from espousing the pleasures of simple cooking.
His 30 cookbooks have earned him the title of the best-selling non-fiction author in U.K. history. He has also educated millions of viewers on food and cooking with his 40-plus television shows.
Unfortunately, his efforts as a restaurateur have been less successful. In 2019 his restaurant group filed for bankruptcy protection and closed 22 out of 25 restaurants, resulting in the loss of 1,000 jobs.
Oliver reportedly spent $10 million of his own money to save the business from collapsing but to no avail.
But according to the New York Times, the “Naked Chef” is still rolling in dough. Book sales, branded cookware, and kitchen gadgets are enough to keep him comfortable. In 2019, he paid more than $8 million for a 70-acre estate in Essex.