Just wondering, how often is it that a popular chef like Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless, etc, is actually IN the kitchen at any one of their restaurants? for that matter, what is the chance that what you are eating at one of their restaurants is even their concept for a dish vs. someone else in their kitchen?
I recently read something about this, that basically their goal as they get older is to get OUT of the kitchen, and that it's a complete different thing being an owner/operator, especially of multiple locations. That the times they are there actually COOKING are rarer and rarer. Probably declines in direct proportion to the # of restaurants they have and how big their empire gets. I can't say I blame them.
I suspect rarely to never. I suspect once you become a "name brand" you are more involved with promoting your restaurant on the basis of your name rather than your food. And while I imagine that the chef involved will set standards and menus at the start, they have to have excellent head chefs to carry the restaurant from day to day whilst they promote their brand i.e. themselves. It doesn't mean they aren't good chefs, it just means they've reached a different stage or level of chefdom so to speak.
The only one I think who might be different is Heston Blumenthal or others of his ilk who seem to be quite content to run small, small restaurants in small locations that focus on the food rather than on a mega restaurant focusing on the chef's name. However, Chef Blumenthal certainly does his share of non-restaurant cheffing, with his numerous tv shows and projects...
They are restauranteurs. Not chefs, much less cooks.
The only time they cook is when they are in Kitchen Stadium, competing in Top Chef Masters, or doing a charity event for Chopped.
Usually the big name celebrity chefs have retained a number of proteges from the days when they were actually cooking in their kitchens. These employees have been groomed by the chef and have performed as their right-hand man for a number of years prior to taking over the kitchen. So, while it may not be Bobby Flay or Mario Batali handling your plate of food, it isn't exactly Joe Schmoe who started working there yesterday either.
my daughter has been working at an English top chef's restaurant for at least 6 months and has yet to even see him on the premises.