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The Twenty Biggest Chef Empires

From Grub Street New York: The business of being a chef has expanded enormously in the last 25 years. Once upon a time, it was considered a working-class trade. Now Gordon Ramsay has 27 restaurants and five TV shows. Alain Ducasse has authored eighteen cookbooks; Nobu Matsuhisa has five. Batali acts, Colicchio sells Diet Coke and fly-fishes for AmEx, Charlie Palmer hawks home décor in Sonoma. But which chef has his hand in the most pots around the globe?

To decide, we narrowed the field to men and women who operate restaurants in the U.S. and then compiled a list of all their traditional food projects (restaurants, cookbooks), self-promotional activities (TV shows), and offbeat activities (recipes for online-dating sites, flavor sprays). Since we consider operating restaurants to be more important to a chef's empire than his ancillary product deals, we assigned each of these activities a point value and weighed them according to significance. Restaurants got four points; leading TV roles, three; cookbooks, two; and everything else counted as a single point. The top twenty high-scorers are listed below with highlights from their careers. Actual totals appear in the first four columns, while the overall score according to point value is tallied at the end.

Who's the king of all chefs, and who's a merchandiser? Decide for yourself in the comments.

#1 Gordon Ramsay: With both the most restaurants and starring roles on TV, it’s not surprising that Gordon Ramsay has gobbled the most points. Overextension has its limits: To stave off bankruptcy this summer, he cut costs by slashing staff by 15 percent and rescinding ownership of hotel restaurants in L.A. and Paris.
Restaurants TV Shows Cookbooks Misc. Score
27 5 17 10 167
 
#2 Alain Ducasse: Ducasse’s global empire includes a professional culinary school, a cooking school for amateurs, a chain of hotels and châteaus, four country hotel-estates (with restaurants), and a publishing house to churn out the most cookbooks of the group. 
Restaurants TV Shows Cookbooks Misc. Score
26 0 18 12 152
 
#3 Wolfgang Puck: Certainly not the only chef with a “Shop” section on his website, he shills salad spinners, coffee, cooking spray, soup stock, and a food-sealing system. 
Restaurants TV Shows Cookbooks Misc. Score
22 0 7 18 120
 
#4 Joël Robuchon: All that fawning on Top Chef Vegas, and no tchotchkes to sell for it; Robuchon concentrates on nineteen fine and casual restaurants from Paris to Macao and has authored sixteen cookbooks. 
Restaurants TV Shows Cookbooks Misc. Score
19 2 16 1 115
 
#5 Nobu Matsuhisa: Matsuhisa is credited with three acting roles on IMDb, for Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Casino (1995), and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), in which he played Mr. Roboto. If he opens another Nobu in the U.S., New York City will consider the restaurant a chain and will require posted calorie counts.   
Restaurants TV Shows Cookbooks Misc. Score
22 0 5 12 110

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