Yestrday’s Yahoo News carried a list of the top earning celebrity chefs and there were some big surprises. Here is the list :
The Top 10 Earning Celebrity Chefs:
10. Anthony Bourdain – $1.5 million
9. Bobby Flay – $1.5 million
8. Tom Colicchio – $2 million
7. Mario Batali – $3 million
6. Paula Deen – $4.5 million
5. Alain Ducasse – $5 million
4. Nobuyuki Matsuhisa – $5 million
3. Gordon Ramsay – $7.5 million
2. Wolfgang Puck – $16 million
1. Rachel Ray – $18 million.
The biggest surprise is Bobby Flay in the ninth spot , earning “only” $ 1.5 million. Flay stars in at least three Food Network shows and is probably the best known American chef along with Mario Batali, his fellow Iron Chef. He also has several well known restaurants in New York City and Atlantic City and endorses a line of cookware … and he makes only $1.5 million? Something is wrong.
Gordon Ramsay , at # 3 is another surprise. Most of his income , I suppose comes from his TV shows in which he bullies his appprentices/ contestants sometimes reducing them to tears. Recently, he was clocked using 80 expletives in a 40-minute show on Australian TV , a performance which drew calls for stricter policing of TV programs. If his TV shows are so popular, it must mean that we like to see people humiliated on TV shows.
That Rachel Ray is # 1 is not particularly surprising. I don’t consider her a good chef, or even a chef, but she projects a cutesy , wholesome image which makes her a hit with female audiences. I have to give her full marks for her energy because in addition to appearing in four different TV shows , some several times a week, she also writes cookbooks and endorses a line of foods.
Paula Deen is also successful because women viewers apparently identify with her. Her food has aptly been described as ‘butter drenched’. I saw some of her shows including one of a visit to England in which she was condescending to the locals while at the same time exposing her lack of knowledge of things not American.It does hurt to see her ahead of people like Anthony Bourdain, Bobby Flay and Tom Colicchio , all of whom I consider to be serious chefs with a real knowledge of food.
There are at least two well known chefs who I thought would have been in the Top Ten . One is Emeril, who is on the Food Network almost as often as Rachel Ray ,has successful restaurants in New Orleans and Las Vegas besides hawking his own line of sauces and condiments. Frankly, the way in which he throws spices around ( BAM!) I don’t see how his food can possibly taste good but a friend who has dined at his N.O. restaurant says the food there is excellent. The other absentee is Rick Bayless, the owner-chef of two hugely successful Mexican restaurants in Chicago and is the author of several best selling cookbooks.
Without these two figuring in the rankings, I can only speculate that the list was compiled without complete information.