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America’s Top Ten Highest-Paid Chefs

Which ones are rolling in the most dough?

Who are the chefs earning the biggest bucks? As you might expect, many are people you’ve heard of—names that have become brands in the culinary world. But some you may not be as familiar with, unless you’re a major foodie and/or chef stalker.

Colman Andrews, Editor of The Daily Meal, put together a list of the “most successful” chefs in the U.S. He notes that the average annual salary for an executive chef at a stand-alone restaurant is a bit over $70,000 (citing Nation’s Restaurant News). The culinary icons listed in this article certainly earn many times more than that.

Andrews does not try to guesstimate how much dough these celebrity chefs make in a year, but rather he attempts to rank them in terms of earnings probability, based on an analysis of the evidence that’s out there.

Most of the chefs on the list rarely cook in their own kitchens anymore. They’ve reached such a stature that they don’t need to work up that kind of sweat. These culinary artists are often known more today as personalities, entrepreneurs, TV stars. But to make Andrews’ list, they had to actually be real chefs who built their careers by having run restaurant kitchens. This eliminates people like Rachael Ray from the list.

You can read more about the criteria used to compile the list here, but without any further delay, here’s the top 10 moneymakers in the world of chefdom.

  1. Wolfgang Puck. Owns 21 fine dining restaurants around the U.S. Author of many cookbooks, he’s earned a TV Emmy, and has his name on several lines of food products, cookware, appliances and more.
  2. Jamie Oliver. The leader of his own “Food Revolution,” the Naked Chef still has more than 20 restaurants around the world, and he was again named one of the 1,000 richest Britons.
  3. Alain Ducasse. Operates some 30 restaurants and three hotels spanning the globe. Also has a culinary school in Paris, and a consulting business.
  4. Joël Robuchon. Has about 20 restaurants throughout the world, and more Michelin stars (26) than any other chef. A prolific cookbook author, he’s become a star on cooking shows in Europe.
  5. Paula Deen. Credited with reviving the popularity of Southern cooking in the U.S., her earnings come from appliances, food products, tools, dinnerware, and cookbooks. Still has two restaurants and, of course, her popular Food Network TV shows.
  6. Nobu Matsuhisa. His Nobu restaurants are popping up everywhere these days. There are nearly 30 of them now. He’s also a cookbook author and has a line of Nobu Original Dinnerware, as well as premium sake and beer brands.
  7. Guy Fieri. The host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and NBC’s Minute to Win It, he has five restaurants and two books on the current best seller list. Also lines of apparel and other products bearing his brand.
  8. Daniel Boulud. He’s a French chef with eight restaurants and a highly successful high-end catering company in New York. His Dinex Group has several restaurants across the globe.
  9. Todd English. Overseeing a lineup of restaurants across the U.S., English also has a line of branded cookware and an olive oil, and stars in a popular TV cooking show.
  10. Bobby Flay. The gregarious TV star chef currently has six shows on the Food Network. He has a half dozen fine dining restaurants, five burger joints, and has authored nine cookbooks.

Click here to check out the full list of the top 25.