Who Wants To Become a Famous Chef
The popularity of culinary school has been on the rise in recent years, and celebrity chefs have a lot to do with it. In the past, the only way to achieve true “fame” as a chef was to become noted in your city for great cuisine and a unique restaurant, or to become a personal chef to the stars.
However, beginning with Julia Child and moving up through the ranks to today’s big names like Mario Batali, Alton Brown, and Rachael Ray, many chefs are proving that you can cook good food and create the kind of name that builds a lasting culinary empire.
Becoming a “Celebrity” Chef
The celebrity chefs that most of us know and love are little bit more celebrity and a little bit less chef than their public image suggests. While many of the top chefs on television have incredible pedigrees from culinary schools like Le Cordon Bleu, The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institute, or the Culinary Institute of America, the truth is that very little of their time is spent in the kitchen.
For every dish you see prepared on TV, and for every colorful photo in the latest celebrity cookbook, there is usually a team of qualified cooks and chefs helping to contribute. In fact, celebrity chefs tend to be favored more for their ability to be personable on camera than any prowess with a knife.
Of course, this doesn’t make the job any less difficult; from branding and marketing to making personal appearances, celebrity chefs put in quite a few hours. And their background proves they’re able to handle the job. In addition to a good culinary education, many of these professionals have:
- Decades of experience
- Culinary training from overseas
- Work history at a famous restaurant
- Apprenticeships under a famous chef
- Experience writing cookbooks
- A culinary teaching background
- Top-rated restaurants
- Gourmet food lines
Unfortunately, becoming a celebrity chef is a bit like becoming the next big performance artist or Hollywood star—there are just a few dozen slots and tens of thousands of people who’d like to fill the role. And in most cases, the celebrity chefs we know and love have spent their fair share of time on the prep line, working as dishwashers, servers, and line cooks.
This is all a very complicated way of saying that there is no way to simply become a famous Hollywood chef. Unlike working your way up through a law firm to become a partner or going back to school to get a medical degree and become a doctor, chefs must find their own way to success.
The most you can do is go to the best culinary school you can, work hard, and dedicate yourself to the food you create every day…and hope that your winning personality and unique vision will set you apart from the crowd.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.