Wednesday May 20, 2009
- "I'm a celebrity first and a chef second."
Take one part America’s obsession with celebrity, stir in a cup of our passion for all things culinary, marinate in a mix of specialty cable channels, and BAM! You’ve got the perfect recipe for the celebrity chef phenomenon. It’s no surprise that more and more chefs are stepping into the media spotlight—“they’re the new most likable celebrities,” says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation—and they’ve grown in stature as America has fallen ever deeper in love with food.
At press time the National Restaurant Association was projecting restaurant sales to reach $558 billion for 2008, a 47 percent increase over 2000, and the Food Network, the culinary world’s premier stage, has seen its subscribers more than double in that time. As the financial stakes get ever higher, chefs are fleeing their kitchens in search of a bigger piece of the pie. Rachael Ray, the Babe Ruth of celebrity chefs, has ridden her culinary fame to a daytime talk show and her own magazine. The secret? It’s not just talent, says Andrea Rademen, VP of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. “Without the marketing, you can’t be a celebrity chef.”
Here are the rest of the top 10 (click the link below to go to descriptions for each):
- "There's absolutely no reason to buy my cookbook."
- "Just because I have a cooking show doesn't mean I'm a chef."
- "Sex sells, even with foodies."
- "I'm addicted to porn-food porn, that is."
- “The dishes I make on TV don’t always work so great at home . . .”
- “. . . and sometimes they’re just plain gross.”
- “It might be my restaurant, but that doesn’t mean I cook there.”
- “My show is one long commercial for my cookbooks.”
- “Bottom line: My celebrity status is great for business.”