Ramsay takes third spot in Forbes’ list of top earning celebrity chefs

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 13th August 2008

Forbes has released a list showcasing the ten leading celebrity chefs by earnings per year, with a number of unfamiliar names to Australians popping up.

Gordon Ramsay surprisingly only came in at number three, behind American TV chef Rachael Ray, with a reported US$7.5 million in earnings a year. The figure appears conservative for the Scottish chef who has gained global notoriety for his shows “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares”. Ramsay’s range of restaurants and pubs, coupled with sales of his successful cookbooks and TV success, would suggest that maybe he has been undervalued.

Rachael Ray, unknown to most Australians, is a TV chef/cook who doesn’t actually work at or own a restaurant. She currently has four Food Network shows, a magazine, a talk show and an endorsement deal with Dunkin’ Donuts. Her estimated $18 million a year earnings has her two million dollars clear of second placed Wolfgang Puck.

Puck, an Austrian-born chef, got his start at the ritzy Los Angeles restaurant Spago in 1982. He now owns 15 other fine-dining brands, sells sandwiches to weary airport travelers at Wolfgang Puck Express, soups to grocers and cutlery on the Home Shopping Network.

The only other name on the list familiar to many Australians was that of Nobuyuki Matsuhisa whose chain of Nobu restaurants (which he co-owns) have proven a hit worldwide. The Nobu chain branched out to Australia for the first time last year with the heavily publicised opening in Melbourne.

The list highlights the ability of the successful celebrity chefs to build and leverage a brand.

Jamie Oliver was among a host of notable absentees from the list.

Full list:

1. Rachael Ray – US$18m

2. Wolfgang Puck – $16m

3. Gordon Ramsay – $7.5m

4. Nobuyuki Matsuhisa – $5m

5. Alain Ducasse – $5m (French chef with an array of restaurants)

6. Paula Deen – $4.5m (Star of two Food Network shows)

7. Mario Batali – $3m (Owner of 13 restaurants)

8. Tom Collichio – $2m (Owns three restaurants and three steak houses – Judge on TV show ‘Top Chef’)

9. Bobby Flay – $1.5m (Restaurant owner, host on the Food Network)

10. Anthony Bourdain – $1.5m (Bestselling author and TV host)