Chefs Impact Report: The Culinary Celebs Cooking Up Empires in Entertainment

Chefs Impact Report
Courtesy of Bravo/Food Network/Nicolai McCrary

These gastronomic celebs have placed their culinary stamp across multiple platforms, built restaurant empires and advanced the foodie conversation.

Jose Andres
mini-bar, tres by jose andres, bazaar
Part of the food revolution in Spain, Andres has brought his modern twists on tapas to L.A., D.C. and Las Vegas at restaurants such as the Bazaar and Mini-Bar. His TV career began in 2008 with “Made in Spain,” and he has since been a regular guest on talk shows, cooking competitions and Anthony Bourdain’s travel shows. His most recent TV project was the PBS special “Undiscovered Haiti With Jose Andres.”

Lidia Bastianich
felidia, eataly, “lidia’s kitchen”
Chef/co-owner — with son Joe and Mario Batali — of four acclaimed New York City restaurants, the artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace Eataly and her own production company, Tavola Productions, Bastianich has spent the past decade producing series and specials for PBS, most recently “Lidia’s Kitchen.” She won the Emmy for culinary host for “Lidia’s Italy.”

Richard Blais
frequent “top chef” judge, Juniper & ivy
Of all the chefs who have come in second on “Top Chef,” Blais has been the one who has best parlayed his profile from the show in the restaurant and TV worlds. For starters, he won “Top Chef: All-Stars” in 2011; and has been a frequent guest diner and judge on the “Top Chef” franchise since. Trained at the French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse and El Bulli, his company Trail Blais owns the restaurants Flip Burger Boutique, the Spence and Juniper & Ivy.

Daniel Boulud
daniel, cafe boulud, dbgb kitchen & bar
Boulud was introduced to American TV audiences through appearances on David Letterman’s show in the early 1990s, a time when the Lyon, France, native was building a Gotham empire that would include the widely revered Daniel and DBGB Kitchen and Bar. In 2007-08, he made “After Hours,” a 16-episode series that brought together chefs and showbiz luminaries for a conversation in the wee hours.

Anthony Bourdain
“parts unknown,” “mind of a chef”
The outspoken bad boy of the U.S. culinary world, Bourdain sparked a revolution with three strong efforts: A memoir, “Kitchen Confidential,” that exposed secrets of America’s restaurants; a ground-breaking 142-episode Travel Channel series “No Reservations” that explored food cultures around the world; and his CNN series “Parts Unknown,” which goes beyond food to cover politics, history, art and culture. He recently executive produced “The Mind of a Chef” for PBS.

Carla Hall, left, demonstrates the proper pastry bag squeeze on “The Chew.”

Alton Brown
“cutThroat kitchen,” “eat your science”
A trained chef, food historian and former cinematographer, Brown has become the face of the Food Network; his “Good Eats” premiered in 1999 and revolutionized food shows in terms of production. Currently host of FN’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” he has created live theatrical shows, “AB Road Eats” and, premiering this year, “Eat Your Science.”

‘The Chew’ Crew
abc’s daytime culinary power quartet
Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz, Michael Symon. Launched in 2011, “The Chew” is the rare daytime network show devoted exclusively to cooking and entertaining. Batali was one of Food Network’s early stars and his restaurant empire includes two of Gotham’s finest, Del Posto and Babbo, plus L.A.’s Mozza. Hall was a popular contestant on “Top Chef’s” fifth season who will soon open a Southern food restaurant in Brooklyn. Frequent “Iron Chef” contestant Symon’s Cleveland eateries include Lola and B Spot. Oz is a health-food expert with a several best-selling cookbooks.

Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson
kogi, chego, pot, a-frame, coi, Locol
Choi’s Kogi truck was ground zero for L.A.’s multicultural street food scene; Patterson is a Bay Area chef. Together they have partnered in LocoL, a fast-casual restaurant concept for lower-income neighborhoods.

The Chefs of ‘Chopped’
scarpetta, johnny sanchez, butter
Now in its seventh year, “Chopped” has become the Food Network’s flagship competition show. Scott Conant of the Scarpetta restaurant empire, Aaron Sanchez of “Taco Trip,” the two Johnny Sanchez restaurants, and Alex Guarnaschelli of Gotham’s Butter and “Alex’s Day Off” are among the current chef-judges. Longtime judge Amanda Freitag competed in “Next Iron Chef” and “Iron Chef America” and was co-host with Ty Pennington on “American Diner Revival.”

Tom Colicchio
“top chef,” grammercy tavern, craft
Arguably the man who took televised high-end cooking mainstream, his Gotham restaurants Gramercy Tavern and Craft positioned Colicchio as one of the city’s top chefs long before he tasted a dish on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” now in its 13th season and renewed for a 14th run.

Giada De Laurentiis has proven the consummate TV host on “Giada Entertains.”

Giada De Laurentiis
“everyday italian,” “giada entertains”
A correspondent to NBC’s “Today,” Las Vegas restaurateur, Daytime Emmy winner and a Food Network mainstay since 2002, Dino De Laurentiis’ granddaughter got her start in food with a catering business that led to her first show for Food Network, “Everyday Italian.” Her current series is “Giada Entertains.”

Ree Drummond
“pioneer woman,” walmart line
The “Pioneer Woman” Drummond took a blog about a city girl turned country woman and created a Food Network series, now in its 12th season. Walmart is banking on her rural style, late last year creating an exclusive line of dinnerware, cookware and gadgets.

Guy Fieri
“diners, drive-ins and dives”
One of the most divisive figures on food television, Fieri has had a significant impact in celebrating American down-and-dirty specialties on his “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which recently broadcast its 300th episode. By far the most popular winner of “Next Food Network Star,” his shows are consistently the network’s highest rated.

Bobby Flay
“iron chef america,” “brunch @ bobby’s”
A Food Network mainstay — he has been on the cabler since 1994 — Flay has made a career celebrating the flavors of the Southwest and the Mediterranean through TV shows and cookbooks that emphasize grilling and regional specialties. The first American to win on “Iron Chef,” he was also the first chef to get a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Tyler Florence
“great food truck race,” el paseo
A Food Network star for nearly 20 years, Florence has been one of the network’s most popular hosts with shows such as “The Great Food Truck Race” and “Tyler Florence Test Kitchen.” His TV presence led to restaurants Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco (2010) and El Paseo in Mill Valley (2011).

Lorena Garcia
lorena bella kitchen collection
Trained as a lawyer in her native Venezuela, Garcia saw cooking as her calling upon moving to Miami. She had a unique approach to building a restaurant empire, opening eateries in airports, beginning with Miami and, later this year, at DFW. She gained her Spanish-language TV foothold through shows on Telemundo, Gems and Mundo before competing on “Top Chef Masters.”

Duff Goldman
“ace of cakes,” “duff till dawn”
The pastry chef who opened Charm City Cakes in Baltimore in 2000, Goldman made his TV debut on the cake competition “Challenge” series, and, in 2006, starred in “Ace of Cakes” for six years. His Food Network run has included “Duff Till Dawn,” “Cakemasters,” the Emmy-winning “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and “Sugar High.”

Stephanie Izard
girl and the goat, the flavor
Winning “Top Chef’s” fourth season put the congenial Izard on a path to becoming one of Chicago’s top restaurateurs: The James Beard Foundation named her best chef, Great Lakes, in 2013. Her Girl and the Goat has won raves since its opening in 2010.

Christopher Kimball
“america’s test kitchen”
The series “America’s Test Kitchen,” now in its 16th season and considered PBS’ most-watched show, and “Cook’s Country,” which wrapped its ninth season in the fall, are outgrowths of the magazines that host Kimball co-founded in the late 1980s/early ’90s.

Emeril Lagasse
“emeril’s florida,” “top chef” mainstay
Food Network’s first superstar, Lagasse got his start in 1993 with “How to Boil Water” then “Essence of Emeril,” shows in which his ebullient personality overcame the staid kitchen set. He continues to star in “Emeril’s Florida” and has been a frequent guest judge on “Top Chef.” Three of his 13 restaurants, Emeril’s, NOLA, Emeril’s Delmonico, are in New Orleans.

Ludo Lefebvre
“ludo bites america,” trois mec
The 2011 series “Ludo Bites America” took Lefebvre’s pop-up restaurant concept — an overwhelming smash in L.A. — on the road and established him as an innovative and charismatic chef. A host in 2015 of ABC’s “The Taste,” his restaurant Trois Mec has won raves from local and national press.

J. Kenji LOpez-Alt
serious eats, “the food lab”
The managing culinary director of the website Serious Eats and author of the best-seller “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science,” Lopez-Alt has been at the forefront of the exploration of the science behind cooking. He cooked in Boston restaurants after attending MIT, then wrote for “Cook’s Illustrated” before moving to Serious Eats. Last year he launched a video series that the New Yorker called a “cross between Alton Brown’s ‘Good Eats’ and a Bill Nye-type science show.”

“Master Chef’s” Gordon Ramsay is known for his tough love.

Jamie Oliver
jamie oliver food foundation
The BBC turned the spiked-hair upstart into a national celebrity in 1999 with “The Naked Chef”; he has done 30 series and specials since. Oliver has parlayed that celebrity into an international career that has focused on healthy eating in schools and providing culinary career options for underprivileged. He gets the message out through shows in the U.S. and U.K., YouTube, an app and his own magazine.

Jacques Pepin
“jacques pepin heart & soul”
Pepin’s 14th PBS series, “Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul,” premiered in the fall just prior to his 80th birthday. A former personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle, he worked at Le Pavillon in New York while earning degrees in French literature at Columbia U. His first series, in 2000 with Julia Child, called Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, won him an Emmy.

Wolfgang Puck
spago, cut, chinois, red/seven
The grand poobah of Hollywood’s dining scene thanks to his once-revolutionary Spago, Puck has fed the entertainment industry’s elite since the early 1980s, catered the Academy Awards’ Governors Ball for 20 years and lent his name to restaurants around the world. He has been a “Good Morning America” contributor for 30 years, portrayed himself on TV shows “90210,” “Las Vegas” and “Frasier,” helped judge “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Top Chef,” and starred in his own self-titled series for Fine Living in 2001.

Paul Qui
“Top chef” champ, qui, otoko
Prior to his victory in season nine of “Top Chef,” Qui was the innovative chef behind the Austin, Texas, food truck East Side King. Since that victory in 2012, the affable chef has opened Qui, which quickly became one Texas’ hottest eateries, and his newest outpost, a seafood-centric Japanese restaurant called Otoko, is booked months ahead of time.

Gordon Ramsay
“hell’s kitchen,” “masterChef”
The British chef’s TV empire includes “MasterChef,” “MasterChef Junior” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” now in its 15th edition, giving Ramsay a year-round presence on Fox. His shows, defined by his fiery temper, air in more than 200 territories worldwide. With restaurants in Europe, Asia and the U.S., his U.K. home, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, has received three Michelin stars for 14 years running, the longest of any restaurant.

Rachael Ray
“rachael ray show,” best-selling author
The most successful food and lifestyle entrepreneur since Martha Stewart, Ray built her business off a simple concept, making meals
in a half-hour, while working at a gourmet market in Albany, N.Y. In less than 15 years, Ray has built her empire through syndicated and Food Network shows, more than two dozen cookbooks, numerous appearances on “Oprah,” product endorsements and event appearances such as her annual SXSW shindig.

Marcus Samuelsson
“Top chef masters,” red rooster
Ethiopia-born, Sweden-raised and educated, Samuelsson became the youngest chef to receive a three-star New York Times review when he was the 23-year-old executive chef at Aquavit. Winner of the second season of “Top Chef Masters,” he opened Red Rooster in Harlem and a year later started as a global hub for information about food.

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo
jon & vinny’s, son of a gun
Before Animal was the hippest thing to happen on Fairfax in decades, Shook and Dotolo had a catering company. And a TV show. Called “2 Dudes Catering,” which was also
the name of their company and eventual cookbook, they put themselves in positions where they had to think quick on their feet to solve mobile food preparation issues. They have since become darlings of the L.A. restaurant scene, which includes pizza joint Jon & Vinny’s and seafood spot Son of a Gun, while making multiple appearances on “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Iron Chef America.”

Curtis Stone
“top chef masters” host
The host of “Beach Eats” is the chef/owner of one of L.A.’s top restaurants, Maude. Stone left Australia to cook for Marco Pierre White in London, which led to a the U.K. TV show “Surfing the Menu” and then the U.S. series, “Take Home Chef.” He hosted “Top Chef Masters” for three seasons and makes regular appearances on “Rachael Ray,” “Today” and “The Talk.” For 2016, he is working on a new Hollywood restaurant, Gwen, and a TV movie.

Buddy Valastro
“cake boss,” “next great baker”
The New Jersey baker took over his father’s operation in the mid-1990s when Valastro was 17 and following the success of TLC’s, “Cake Boss,” which debuted in 2009, he has since opened a dozen more locations. He has a touring show and has toplined the TLC shows “Next Great Baker” and “Kitchen Boss.”

Michael Voltaggio
“top chef” champ, “breaking borders”
A prime example of the power of a victory on Bravo’s “Top Chef.” Voltaggio, a Pasadena powerhouse when he went on the show in 2010, has since opened ink. and the sandwich shop Sack Sandwiches in West Hollywood. GQ called ink. the best new restaurant of 2012. He has portrayed fictional chefs in films and TV shows, and starred in the 2015 series “Breaking Borders.”

Jonathan Waxman
michael’s, “top chef masters”
A pioneer of California cuisine at Chez Panisse and Michael’s, Waxman became one of the first rock stars of cooking when he set up shop in Gotham in the 1980s. Since his appearance on “Top Chef Masters” in 2010 — he came in fourth — he has been a frequent judge and mentor on TV. He is this year’s South Beach Food and Wine Festival honoree.

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  1. Stev says:

    A lot of these chefs also sell products on TV shopping channels like qvc & hsn

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