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Top Earning Chefs...Really?

LiveRock Jul 20, 2012 11:39 AM

I guess they are using the "Chef" title a bit more loosely that I do.


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  1. h
    HillJ RE: LiveRock Jul 20, 2012 11:49 AM

    One common thread among the ten chefs on our list is that it is no longer enough for a chef to just own restaurants. Restaurant margins, especially at the fanciest locations, are notoriously thin. In order to make real money, chefs need TV shows, merchandise and even magazines.
    LiveRock, this boxed message within the article should clarify the context very easily. No different in any other entertainment biz.

    1 Reply
    1. re: HillJ
      ferventfoodie RE: HillJ Jul 20, 2012 03:50 PM

      I may be unaware, but I didn't think that Ducasse has merchandise, a magazine or an
      on-going TV presence.

    2. d
      DougRisk RE: LiveRock Jul 20, 2012 12:14 PM

      It's easier for the to say, "Chef", than "Food Personality and/or Restauranteur and/or Cooking Product Hawker".

      1. paulj RE: LiveRock Jul 20, 2012 12:43 PM

        Zimmern on Eater on this topic

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj
          mike0989 RE: paulj Jul 20, 2012 02:22 PM

          LOL, I love it.

        2. ChefJune RE: LiveRock Jul 20, 2012 12:48 PM

          I doubt that list is accurate. I'm sure there are a number of well off "culinary personalities" who prefer to keep their financial status private.

          Guy Fieri worth more than Emeril Lagasse? I doubt it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune
            twyst RE: ChefJune Jul 20, 2012 05:33 PM

            "Guy Fieri worth more than Emeril Lagasse? I doubt it"

            Current income, I think it's possible. He's still making a ton of money, but I dont think he's making as much as he was 10 years ago when he was everywhere on tv and his books were bestsellers. He has a lot of restaurants, but the margins on restaurants are often very thin!

            1. re: twyst
              paulj RE: twyst Jul 20, 2012 05:57 PM

              And Emeril sold his 'brandname' to Martha some years ago.

          2. sbp RE: LiveRock Jul 20, 2012 04:09 PM

            Please. It's like saying a trust fund baby who gets a $20 million allowance and cooks at a restaurant as a hobby is a top earning chef. If Gordon Ramsay is a top earning chef, why can't his restaurants pay its bills?

            1. breadchick RE: LiveRock Jul 20, 2012 05:28 PM

              Well, considering that the "Rach" is from my hood, I'm inclined to think that she's not worried about the "chef" thing. She's laughing all the way to the bank. Such is the celebrity boosted by Oprah's machine. Can't fault the girl for that.

              1 Reply
              1. re: breadchick
                mcf RE: breadchick Jul 20, 2012 05:55 PM

                Yeah, I'll hand her that. Adirondack girl doesn't care to compete and makes no pretense of producing haute cuisine... she just does her thing, takes the hits and keeps on raking it in.

              2. dave_c RE: LiveRock Jul 31, 2012 11:03 AM

                I bet a bulk of the income is from merchandising vs. income from their restaurants, especially for Chef (sarcasm) Rachael Ray.

                3 Replies
                1. re: dave_c
                  acgold7 RE: dave_c Jul 31, 2012 11:34 AM

                  I am not a Rachael Ray fan, but it should be noted that she herself has pointed out, at every possible opportunity, that she is Not A Chef.

                  1. re: dave_c
                    paulj RE: dave_c Jul 31, 2012 12:34 PM

                    I don't see the point trying to distinguish 'real chefs' from 'not chefs' in this context. It's not as though being a 'real chef' gives you a larger income.

                    Even in the classic French system, being the chef means you have moved out of the nitty gritty of cooking, and into some sort of management position. All of these big buck winners are in some sort of management, ownership, or celebrity roll. That's true whether they got their start as a line cook or now.

                    1. re: paulj
                      Chowrin RE: paulj Jul 31, 2012 04:05 PM

                      a chef is a logistician first and foremost. NOT a manager.
                      I like logistics -- why else buy so much from Costco?

                  2. j
                    John Francis RE: LiveRock Jul 31, 2012 02:14 PM

                    It's all about owning a group of restaurants and/or having a popular TV show, or two or three. Actually cooking food or running a kitchen in someone else's restaurant is small stuff financially.

                    "Chef" is just mediaspeak for all kinds of cooks as long as they're on TV.

                    Does it bother anyone else that Americans say "restaurantoor" instead of "restaurateur"? To me it sounds gauche, like likoor for liqueur.

                    1. John E. RE: LiveRock Jul 31, 2012 03:34 PM

                      The only way Paula Deen is making $17 million per year is if she owns part of her own shows. I suppose she drove a hard bargain when negotiations came up with FN.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: John E.
                        dave_c RE: John E. Jul 31, 2012 03:47 PM

                        Also, her endorsement deal for diabetes meds probably is part of the mix. Too bad she just didn't endorse a generic diabetes med.

                        1. re: John E.
                          paulj RE: John E. Jul 31, 2012 04:19 PM

                          Paula's shows are produced by Follow Productions, Gordon Elliot's company. Many of the FN (cable in general) are produced by outside production companies. I suspect the financial arrangements vary from show to show, depending on how much leverage the producer and star have.


                          We've been told that Good Eats is a money looser for Alton's production company, with book sales and speaking fees making up for its losses.

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