Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Jun 5, 2007 12:56 PM

It's about that time -- Chef Name Pronunciation Guide Update

Some of you may be familiar with my "world-famous" chef pronunciation guide over at I just got back from the BU food stylists and photographers conference, and have decided to go back to my roots.

I need some help from y'all though. If you couid help me come up with names that I've missed, I'll try to get in touch with the chefs to get the proper pronunciation. While we do live in an audiovisual age where you might already be familiar with these names, they are still often pronounced wrong. To make this game better, I try to post all the amusing chef responses. (or creatively made-up lack thereof)

From two years ago:

"So let’s face it, some of us from time to time butcher a chef’s name for 6 months, then hear somebody pronounce it correctly and feel really dumb. Don't worry; it has happened to all of us. I know I used to do it all the time, but now that I have compiled this list of a number of the top chefs and food personalities in the food world, I rarely miss a name. I suggest carrying a copy in your wallet for reference wherever you go."

Some of the responses I received were absolutely great:

Note: The responses are abridged. I only included the relevant portions, and dropped the greetings and other miscellaneous info.

Grant Achatz- ACK-ETZ

Yes my name is often mis-pronounced. I can't say that I have any one funny story...most people just avoid it altogether and call me Chef or Chef Grant. You are correct on the pronunciation.

Ferran Adriá- feh rahn ah dree AH

I’m Ferran Adriá BEYATCH!! {Just kidding. No response.}

Daniel Boulud- dan-YELL boo-LOO

Chef Boulud evidently has a very good PR department. They provided me with not only the best information, but was one of the first to respond.

You have the pronunciation correct: dan-YELL boo-LOO As for stories there are a few we can think of off hand. Most common is the confusion so many people have between Chef Daniel Boulud and his friend Chef David Bouley. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked if the chef of our restaurant is David Boulud, if Chef Boulud's restaurants in Tribeca are still doing well, if Daniel Bouley has any more plans to expand, etc.... A second confusion with restaurant DANIEL is that we have often had people make reservations at a small downtown restaurant called DANIELLA and appear here thinking this is where their table will be. We always try to accommodate them if we can. In terms of pronunciation, he has been called everything from Chef Blue, to Chef BuluD, Bolod, Buld, etc...

Tom Colicchio- ko-lick-e-o

As for a phonetic way to spell chef's last name, I think this would be most accurate: ko-lick-e-o (like radicchio)

In addition, Mike Colicchio actually posted here to inform me that:

My brother and our entire family pronounce our surname Ko lick e o. We stress the second syllable.
Italian, of course, from the village of Vallata in the province of Avellino. By way of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
I hope this clears it up once and for all.

Ruth Reichl- RYE-shul

It's more like rye-shel, but I can't say it the way my German father did, which was with an r in the back of the throat. When I first started writing I used to save envelopes with the various permutations of my name on them; my favorite was the one addressed to Ruth Raisehell.

Michael Ruhlman- ROOL-munn

Yep, that's a good phonetic spelling of the name. no funny stories, just the annoying assumption that it's spelled and pronounced Roman.

Guy Savoy- Ghee Sav-wah

One thing I thought was incredibly ironic, was the name they addressed the return email to.

Dear Mr Barber, Thank you for your mail. Very often there is a confusion with the spelling of my name. People write it like the well-known French region: La Savoie. This confusion doesn't shoke me, on the contrary I am very proud beeing associated to this beautiful area where I was born.

It’s ironic because my name is Baber, and given the topic of the email it was especially funny. I was glad to hear from Chef Savoy himself, though.

Full list:
Grant Achatz- ACK-ETZ
Ferran Adriá- feh rahn ah dree AH
Lidia Bastianich- lid ee ya bahs-TYAHN-itch
Mario Batali- bot tal ee
Richard Blais- Blaze
Paul Bocuse- pole boh-KOOZ
Daniel Boulud- dan-YELL boo-LOO
Tony Bourdain- boor dain
Michael Chiarello- kee ah rell oh
Tom Colicchio- Ko leek ee o
Gary Danko- DANG-ko
Marcel Desaulniers- mar cell di sol ni yay
Georges Auguste Escoffier- jorgz oh goost ess coff ee ay
Yutake Ishinabe- Yew-tah-keh Ee-she-nah-beh
Steve Klc- Kelch
Chen Kenichi- Chen is self explanatory, Kenichi is Keh-nee-chee (note that Chen is his family name, and Kenichi is his given name)
Masahiko Kobe- Mah-sah-hee-koh Koh-bay
Emeril Lagasse- la gass ee
Rokusaburo Michiba- Rouk-sah-boo-roh Mee-chee-bah
Masaharu Morimoto- Mah-sah-hah-roo Moh-ree-moh-toe
Koumei Nakamura- Koh-may Nah-kah-moo-rah
Jacques Pepin- pep anne
Paul Prudhomme- proo-DOHM
Ruth Reichl- RYE-shul
Dale Reitzer- RITE-zer
Eric Ripert- eh-REEK ree-PAIR
Michael Ruhlman- ROOL-munn
Guy Savoy- Ghee Sav-wah
Hiroyuki Sakai- He-ROH-yew-KEY SAH-kai
Joachim Splichal- joe ah keem splee kahl
Charlie Trotter- trah tur
Jean Georges Vongerichten- VON-gehr-ICK-ten


So. Here's where you come in. Who else do I need? Should I start with new FoodNetwork personalities?

Chris Cognac - Kriss Cone-yak

There. That was easy.

Now you try:
Giada De Laurentiis - ?

The new "next food network star" stars?

Anyone else you want me to find out?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Giada De Laurentiis - JAH-dah DEE-lor-EN-tis

    How'd I do?

    1 Reply
      1. Thanks so much! How about Daniel Boulud's chef at their Las Vegas restaurant? We met him in May and I was afraid to try to prounounce his name. He was French, but his last name sounds Italian to me. Philippe Rispoli. He was a very kind man and we had the best meal of our lives there!

        1. Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA - Cah-hall Arm Strong.

          Get it right folks :)

          3 Replies
          1. re: jpschust

            Isn't it CAH-huhl? At least that's what Tom Sietsema (now THAT name gets masacred a lot!) explained.
            How about Roberto Donna? I remember on ICA, Alton Brown kept calling him doh-NAH.
            Michel Richard - Mi-shell Ree-shard?

            1. re: monavano

              You're right on Cathal- my transliteration was off- this is why I wasn't a transliterator :P

              Roberto Donna is right as brown calls him. He would also be right to call him to watch over the service at Bebbo :)

              1. re: jpschust

                Marcel Desaulniers- mar cell di sol ni yay

                Desaulniers is a common name in Québec. It isn't di sol ni yay but day sol ni yay (in France and Québec).

                Remember that most vowels in French and Italian will be MUCH shorter than in English - it isn't a matter of slipping a "foreign" pronunciation into your speech if you don't speak the language, but don't draw them out too much.

                The internal "ch" in German names is not easy to pronounce.

          2. Why the odd accents on Hiroyuki Sakai? I thought Japanese was an accent-neutral language. . .on Iron Chef they say hee-roo-you-kee sah-KAI. . . .

            2 Replies
            1. re: Covert Ops

              what about Zagat?

              I heard Zaa GAAT, not ZAAA gut.

              1. re: doctorandchef

                Zagat is pronounced "wAAste of mOney