Your browser is out of date. It may not display all features of this websites. We recommend to use one of these browsers or versions Mozila Firefox or Google Chrome

To Top

From dishwasher to multi-millionaire: These are the world’s richest chefs

By: Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Talent and experience, a Michelin star award or simply luck? What ingredients do you need to earn millions as a chef? And who are the richest chefs in the world?

Admittedly, not every chef on our list started out as a dishwasher before becoming a millionaire. Nevertheless, Alan Wong, for example, who is considered an ambassador for Hawaiian cuisine, worked on a pineapple plantation at 15 before getting an apprenticeship as a chef. Jamie Oliver, on the other hand, washed the glasses in his parents’ pub and chopped vegetables for one pound an hour. And Wolfgang Puck started his career as a potato peeler. What the world’s ten richest chefs have in common is that they can do much more than “just” cook exceptionally well. But what ingredients does it take to go from a simple chef to a multi-millionaire? And is the right one in first place?

The world’s richest chefs 10th to 6th place

10th place: José Andres

Stars, toques or special awards – there are many accolades for particularly talented chefs. With an estimated wealth of around 50 million dollars, José Andrés is ranked 10th among the world’s richest chefs, and has already won numerous prizes. These prizes include the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award, which is considered the Oscar of the restaurant scene. However, the native Spaniard was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – which is quite unusual in gastronomy. He was also awarded an order of merit by the Ukrainian President Wolodomyr Selenskyj.

At just 21, Andrés emigrated to the USA, first volunteering in the social sphere, before pursuing a career as a restaurateur, cookbook author and TV star. Andrés is famous not just for his culinary skills, but also for his social commitment, which he continues to pursue with passion. After the earthquakes in Haiti in 2010, he founded the non-profit organization World Central Kitchen. Since then, he and his team have been on the front line wherever people suffer from natural disasters or wars, providing hot meals to those in need.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von José Andrés (@chefjoseandres)


9th place: Ina Garten

Ina Garten’s career didn’t start in a restaurant kitchen, but rather in the White House, where she worked as a budget officer, first under US President Gerald Ford and later under Jimmy Carter. To balance things out, she cooked and regularly organized dinner parties. Along the way, she also bought properties, which she renovated and then resold. With the income from this lucrative side job, she eventually bought the Barefoot Contessa delicatessen. “It was love at first sight,” she says. This made it easy for her to decide to quit her job in Washington and move to New York. Stars such as Steven Spielberg, Lauren Bacall and Martha Stewart soon became her regular customers. Sales of her first cookbook, also called “Barefoot Contessa”, immediately went through the roof. To date, Ina Garten, whose assets are estimated at around 60 million dollars, has published 13 books. She’s also won five Emmys for her cooking show, which has been on television for almost twenty years.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Ina Garten (@inagarten)

8th place: Emeril Lagasse

When you hear, “BAM! Feel the love” or “Oh yeah, babe!”, coming from the kitchen, you know Emeril Lagasse is at work and happy with what is currently cooking in the pot or simmering in the pan. The son of a Portuguese mother and a Canadian father already spent time in the kitchen with his mother Hilda as a child and later helped out in a bakery. However, Lagasse, who can wield a drumstick as well as a wooden spoon, almost became a musician. He was even offered a music scholarship. In the end, he decided to study at Johnson&Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts. After spending a while in France to refine his cooking skills, he returned to the USA and became chef at the famous Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. In 1990, he opened his first restaurant Emeril’s, also in New Orleans, which was named restaurant of the year by Esquire magazine in the same year.

However, the American made his big breakthrough with the cooking program “How to boil water”, a show targeted at amateur chefs with little experience. Over the past 34 years, the celebrity chef has opened more than twenty restaurants, written 19 cookbooks, hosted more than 2,000 television shows and has amassed a fortune of around 70 million dollars.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Bocuse d’Or (@bocusedor)

6th place ex aequo: Guy Fieri

Most of the more than 2,700 celebrities who have been honored with a star on the legendary Walk of Fame are actors, musicians or entertainers. Just three chefs shine among them: Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay and, since 2019, Guy Fieri. It’s not just Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, who revealed that he is a fan of the TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, where Fieri showcases exceptional restaurants, who has expressed his admiration. The popular entertainer’s eldest son also raved that his father always put his family first, despite his success as a restaurateur, author and TV host. He also always makes sure everyone has enough to eat.

Fieri has been shaping the culinary world since he was ten years old – back then he ran his own pretzel cart, which he built together with his father. Today, the peroxide-blonde TV chef owns around 90 restaurants, has a fortune of around 100 million dollars and supports children in need and people in crisis situations through various projects.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Guy Fieri (@guyfieri)

6th place ex aequo: Rachael Ray

With an estimated fortune of 100 million dollars, American TV chef Rachael Ray is one of the world’s richest chefs and yet she doesn’t consider herself exceptional, as she often stresses in interviews. On the contrary, the very fact that she is ordinary encourages viewers to try out her recipes. The motto here is, “If I can do it, so can you.” The New Yorker with Sicilian roots was first discovered for television when she was working at a gourmet food market, where she also taught courses to encourage customers to cook. What made it so special was that it only took thirty minutes to prepare the dishes. “30 Minute Meals” – that was later the name of her first cooking show, which became a huge hit. In 2005, Rachael Ray signed a contract with no one less than Oprah Winfrey for a daily TV talk show. Since then, the chef, presenter and author of numerous cookbooks has been unstoppable. Her cooking shows have already been awarded three Emmys. Rachael Ray also launched her own dog food brand – a true power house!


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Home.Made.Nation (@home.made.nation)

The top 5 world’s richest chefs

5th place: Wolfgang Puck

Hollywood chef Wolfgang Puck christened his latest restaurant, which recently opened in Las Vegas, Carama, which means “dear mom”. Because it all started with her. Maria Pottschnig was a chef and passed on her passion and knowledge to her son. The same goes for the recipes for her famous vegetable soup and casseroles. Both dishes are served at Carama. As a teenager, the Austrian went to work in some of the best restaurants in France, such as the Maxim’s in Paris or the L’Osteau de Baumanière in Provence. In 1982, he finally opened the legendary Spago in California, where he has been cooking for the stars after the Oscars for 29 years now. Today, the Carinthian, whose fortune is estimated at around 120 million dollars, doesn’t just own more than 70 restaurants in the USA and venues in Japan and Austria, he also has his own star on the Walk of Fame.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Red Bull HANGAR-7 (@redbullhangar7)

3rd place ex aequo: Nobuyuki Matsuhisa

Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, whose fortune today amounts to around 200 million dollars, has literally gone from dishwasher to millionaire. He began his career in a sushi restaurant in Tokyo, where he worked his way up from washing dishes to becoming a sushi master. When a regular customer asked him whether he could imagine opening a Japanese restaurant with him in Peru, he agreed and moved to Lima in 1973. This is where he developed his very own style of cooking, for which he is famous today: a mixture of Japanese dishes and Peruvian ingredients. One of his greatest admirers is Hollywood legend Robert DeNiro, who was a regular at his restaurant Matsuhisa in Los Angeles and persuaded him to open another one with him in New York. There are now around 60 “Nobu” restaurants worldwide, as well as 15 luxury hotels that also belong to the Nobu empire. In addition, the 75-year-old star chef is the author of numerous cookbooks and has made guest appearances in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Casino” or “Memoirs of a Geisha”.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (@therealnobu)

3rd place ex aequo: Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is also ranked third among the world’s richest chefs. The expression “to be in the right place at the right time” perfectly describes what happened when he stepped in for a colleague almost thirty years ago. It was precisely on that day that a BBC camera team shot a documentary about the legendary restaurant The River Café and discovered the young Brit. A short time later, he got his first cooking show. Since then, the 48-year-old has released numerous television shows and even more cookbooks, as well as built up a gastronomy empire with more than seventy restaurants in 24 countries. He is also committed to helping socially disadvantaged young people by encouraging them to eat healthy and work in the gastronomy sector. But Jamie Oliver has known hard times as well as rosy ones. Among other things, his restaurant chain Jamie’s Italian went bankrupt in 2019. But now he’s back, this time with a restaurant in Covent Garden, in the center of London. The Briton’s estimated fortune is around 200 million dollars.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver)

2nd place: Gordon Ramsay

You don’t have to be everyone’s darling to make it to the top of the list of the world’s richest chefs. In fact, the opposite is true! Scottish star chef Gordon Ramsay is known for many things: his dozens of restaurants spread across the world, countless cookbooks and successful TV shows such as “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”, “The F-Word” or “Hell’s Kitchen”. But he is also notorious for his, to put it mildly, rough tone. Nevertheless – or perhaps exactly for this reason – more than 16 million fans follow him on Instagram. After all, Ramsay learned his craft from chef legends such as Marco Pierre White, Joël Robuchon or Guy Savoy and, over the course of his career, earned a total of 17 Michelin stars and an estimated fortune of around 220 million dollars.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Gordon Ramsay (@gordongram)

1st place: Alan Wong

He is said to have outperformed them all and, over the course of his career, brought it to an incredible 1.1 billion dollar fortune: Alan Wong. But how can it be that a chef whose face and name do not regularly appear in the media and whose three restaurants – including Alan Wong’s Restaurant – have all fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic earn more than four times as much as his richest colleagues? The question is justified, but the answer is not that simple. In various published income rankings, there could have been a confusion with VTech co-founder Allan Wong, whose assets are also estimated at 1.1 billion dollars. Even if chef Alan Wong isn’t the richest chef in the world, there’s no denying that he has achieved great things in the course of his career. The top restaurateur, who was born in Japan but later moved to Hawaii, is considered one of the original pioneers of Hawaiian regional cuisine. He has also received the prestigious James Beard Award for the best chef in the Pacific Northwest, has cooked for US President Barack Obama and supports the people of Hawaii with his charity events. That alone is priceless. Whether he is the richest chef in the world will probably remain his little secret forever…

Probably the richest chef in the world - Alan Wong.

Image: Alan Wong

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Food People