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Over the past decade, food media and pop culture have collided into one tasty, star-filled world. Chefs are celebrities and celebrities are chefs. Food is no longer merely what we make for dinner, but what we watch on TV, scroll through on Instagram and read about in blogs, books and magazines.
We chose the biggest food celebrities of the decade based on who sold the most books, who had the most eyes riveted on their social media accounts and who got us binge-watching their shows. Here are the superstars who dominated our feeds — both literally and figuratively.
Sure, his restaurants may have been awarded an incredible 16 Michelin stars, but most of us know Gordon Ramsay as the British guy who yells at people on TV. We enjoy watching him yell at people so much, that four of the best-rated TV food shows are his: “24 Hours to Hell and Back” (premiered in 2018), “Hell’s Kitchen” (2005), “MasterChef” (2010) and “MasterChef: Junior” (2013).
Odds are that if you’re reading this, you follow Chrissy Teigen on Twitter and/or Instagram. (It’s sheer numbers; the woman has tens of millions of followers between the two sites.) So you probably know that America’s favorite swimsuit model-turned-tweeter is a kitchen whiz. Even if you haven’t tried to recreate one of her culinary masterpieces at home via her mega-popular cookbooks (released in 2016 and 2018), you’ve surely drooled over her mouthwatering photos on social media.
Guy Fieri has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We repeat: Guy Fieri has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The bleach blonde, Camaro-driving, “Flavortown”-spitting crackerjack got the star in 2019, coming a long way since he first burst on the TV scene in 2006 on “The Next Food Network Star.” And what a shining, spiky little star he has become, via shows like “Guy’s Big Bite,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and “Guy’s Grocery Games.”
Tom Colicchio has dished out tough love to the cheftestants on “Top Chef” since the show premiered in 2006. Viewers love the gruff judge for his honesty — so much so that nearly a million of them follow the active tweeter on social media. Colicchio started the decade off strong with a James Beard Outstanding Chef award in 2010.
Once upon a time, Gwyneth Paltrow was an actress. These days, she’s the CEO of a $250 million company (Goop, but you knew that) and she influences everything from what you wear to your skincare routine to what you eat. She’s also written several cookbooks (the latest, “The Clean Plate,” came out in 2019) and, oh yeah, she’s still an actress too. We can thank her for one of the biggest food trends of the decade, kale, after she made kale chips on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2011.
Besides being one of the most popular chefs in the world, hosting his own PBS series and making regular appearances in pretty much every conceivable form of food media, José Andrés made even more of a name for himself when he publicly criticized President Trump in 2017 for his lack of action following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The Washington Post called Andrés “the face of American disaster relief” and Time named him one of its 100 Most Influential People of 2018. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. Basically, he's the hero we need right now.
Already well known for his Momofuku group of restaurants, David Chang became absurdly well known when “Ugly Delicious” premiered on Netflix in early 2018. And then there was the podcast, and then the show “Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner,” (also on Netflix) and, well, we don’t know what comes after "absurdly well known."
Oprah is a Celebrity with a capital C. If a celebrity list is being compiled — whether it’s in relation to food, drag racing or jumpsuit-wearing — the woman is going to be on it. Her cultural influence is incalculable, so of course we want to know everything about what she’s eating. From her “O, That’s Good!” line of soups that debuted in 2017 to her relationship with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) to her personal chefs’ best-selling cookbooks, we can’t get enough of what Oprah’s eating.
Can you even see Emeril Lagasse’s name without yelling “Bam!” to yourself? Now that’s the gauge of a real celebrity — when they’re permanently associated with an onomatopoeia. He’s been a television mainstay for decades, whether it’s been on his own cooking show, as a judge on “Top Chef” in the early 2010s or appearing as a guest on daily talk shows throughout the decade.
Graham Elliot has been savvy in his TV show judgeship selections. His killer eyewear first caught our attention alongside Gordon Ramsay on “MasterChef” in 2010, before Elliot moved over to “Top Chef” in 2016 to lend his expertise. In the summer of 2019, he and his spiffy white specs critiqued families cooking together on ABC’s “Family Food Fight.”
Without the 2010s, we never would have known that Snoop Dogg hung with Martha Stewart and was such a cooking wizard. Thank goodness for VH1’s “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” which debuted in 2016, for letting the world in on the Dogg’s prowess in the kitchen. He also has his own cookbook, “From Crook to Cook,” in case you just can’t live another day without tasting The Doggfather’s recipe for lobster thermidor.
Carla Hall seems like someone you want to be friends with, and not just because her biscuits look out of this world. We first flipped for her energy when she was a contestant on “Top Chef,” and we loved her as co-host of the now-canceled “The Chew” starting in 2011 for seven seasons. Next up for Carlanatics: devouring her “Carla Hall’s Soul Food” cookbook from 2018 while waiting for her to invite you to one of the best fried chicken restaurants in America.
What better recipe for brined-and-battered fried chicken than one from America’s sweetheart? “Whiskey in a Teacup,” the actress’ 2018 collection of favorite southern traditions, let us in on Witherspoon’s food world, and it’s just as charming and delightful as we imagined.
If you’ve made or eaten #TheCookies (the salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread cookie that started to go viral at the end of 2017), you have Alison Roman to thank. The cook/writer doesn’t have a TV show, but she’s got two best-selling cookbooks — “Dining In” (2017) and “Nothing Fancy” (2019) — a few hundred thousand Instagram followers and hashtag-inspiring recipes.
Ayesha Curry has come a long way since posting a cooking demo on YouTube back in 2014. She wrote a best-selling cookbook (“The Seasoned Life”), launched her own line of cookware, starred in her own Food Network show (“Ayesha’s Homemade”) and hosted last summer’s “Family Food Fight” on ABC. She does add a controversial ingredient to her guac, though.
Trisha Yearwood was already kind of successful in the country music business — she’s won three Grammys and sold more than 15 million records — when she started moonlighting in the food world. Her first cookbook, “Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen,” from 2008 sent millions into the new decade with new recipes. The Food Network then tapped her to host her own show, “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” which is in its 12th season.
Everyone likes cake, so it makes sense that we’d also like an amiable guy who makes really cool cakes. For years we watched Duff Goldman blowtorch and saw his way to creative cake creations on “Ace of Cakes,” sadly knowing we’d never get a bite. These days we still like to watch Goldman on shows like “Duff Takes the Cake” from 2019 and “Worst Bakers in America,” which started in 2016.
It’s hard to overstate Martha Stewart’s status as a food celebrity. The woman changed the way we eat. She’s the original Pinterest, the aspirational domestic goddess we all want to be, the author of too many best-selling cookbooks to count and our go-to for every single recipe ever. Oh, and she’s friends with Snoop Dogg.
Maybe you know Anne Burrell from back in the day when she was a sous chef on “Iron Chef America.” Or maybe you know her as a host of “Worst Cooks in America,” which started in 2010 and is still going. Or maybe you DVR’d her show, “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell” (2012-13). Or maybe you just know her because of her spiky blonde hair and fireball personality. Regardless, you know her.
Jon Favreau is an unlikely food celebrity. The big-time director/producer/actor should be busy enough with the whole “Avengers” franchise and all, but the making of the 2014 movie “Chef” whet his appetite for all things culinary. He fused his love for both food and filmmaking in 2019 with “The Chef Show,” the Netflix travel and eating program he stars in alongside chef Roy Choi.
The late Anthony Bourdain gave us many things — access to restaurant kitchens, an introduction to what people eat in far-flung places most of us will never visit, the craving for culinary adventures, his passion, an education — and we couldn’t get enough. From “Kitchen Confidential” to “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain captured our interest and sparked our appetites in a revolutionary new way. The Anthony Bourdain Food Trail officially opened in New Jersey in 2019, and he posthumously won two Emmy awards for “Parts Unknown” the same year. It goes without saying, but Bourdain left an indelible mark on the world of food.
Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl empire includes more than 120 products, and she made $100 million on the sale of the cocktail branch alone. What started with a low-cal margarita has grown to include salad dressing, coffee and even reading glasses. Furthering her food cred, Frankel started her own TV production company (because why not?) creating a show called “Food Porn” in 2015 (because again, why not?).
No celebrity list this millennium would be complete without the Kardashians. The gals (and guy) have their fingers in the food pot, too. Kris authored a 2014 cookbook (though it didn’t do very well), Kourtney launched lifestyle brand Poosh in 2019, and Kim sparked a national Waffle House craving with a double date in 2015.
What can we say about the woman who introduced "EVOO" to our lexicon? Rachael Ray started out with “30 Minute Meals” and “$40 a Day” and went on to run an empire that includes her own daily talk show that started its 14th season in September 2019, a magazine and a pet food line. How good is that?
Model-turned-television personality/food expert Padma Lakshmi has hosted “Top Chef” for 13 years. Along the way she’s launched a collection of frozen organic foods (Padma’s Easy Exotic), had a stint on “The View” from 2015 to 16 and has written a couple of cookbooks and a food memoir.
The “nice” judge on “Top Chef,” Gail Simmons isn’t just influential because of her television appearances. She’s been the special projects manager at Food & Wine for 15 years and heads up the magazine’s annual who’s who of the food world, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
A food media stalwart, Tyler Florence does the TV show tour better than most. And when he’s not teaching “The Today Show” hosts how to cook shrimp, he’s hosting or judging a slew of shows on the Food Network, most notably “The Great Food Truck Race” (which started in 2010 and is still running) and “Worst Cooks in America.” If you visit the best food truck in your state and pretend you’re hosting like Florence, we don’t blame you.
It’s hard to turn on the Food Network without seeing Bobby Flay’s smiling mug. He’s hosted approximately 2 billion shows for the channel. (Or maybe 14, but it seems like 2 billion.) He’s the inescapable face of the network, the chef-y star, the franchise foodie player who doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, first appeared on Food Network in 2010 when she faced off against Bobby Flay in a Thanksgiving-themed episode of Throwdown! — and beat Flay. Before she was plastered across TV screens and magazine covers nationwide, The Pioneer Woman penned a blog (launched in 2006) where she wrote about her transition into ranch life. What started with a step-by-step guide to cooking a steak turned into her own Food Network show (on the air since 2011), five cookbooks, nine children's books and millions of fans.
A tiny Italian dynamo with a gigantic smile, Giada De Laurentiis is probably the Food Network’s most recognizable female chef. She’s done everything from cooking for us on “Everyday Italian” to mentoring and judging on “The Next Food Network Star” to selling us kitchen gear and spaghetti sauce at Target.
Highly celebrated, highly tattooed Latin chef Aarón Sánchez first caught our attention as a judge on “Chopped,” but he'd already been cooking and hosting shows on Food Network for years before that. He did such a good job assessing and evaluating that he was chosen to serve as a judge on one of TV’s biggest culinary shows, “MasterChef,” in 2017.
If the Barefoot Contessa tells us to put Tabasco sauce in our guacamole, we’re going to do it. If she told us to put maple syrup in it, we’d probably do that too, because we trust her and know that she only wants what’s best for us (and that store-bought is fine). America’s devotion to Ina Garten runs deep, which is why we’ve eaten up her best-selling cookbooks, Food Network show and TV appearances for decades.
How could someone known as the naked chef not be insanely popular? Besides all of the TV shows, besides the nearly 7 million Twitter followers and besides being the second-best-selling British author (behind J.K. Rowling), Jamie Oliver has also changed the way we eat via his school lunch and real food campaigns these past 10 years.
We already love food, but Marcus Samuelsson helps us love it even more. He’s a welcome guest on all the big TV shows, and he knows how to throw down in a competition. (He won “Top Chef Masters” in 2010 and competed on “The Next Iron Chef” in 2011) Most recently, Samuelsson got his own show on PBS, “No Passport Required,” which started in 2018.
Christina Tosi was already a food-world star thanks to the magical baked goods (hello, Milk Bar Pie) and cereal milk she whipped up at Milk Bar. But then “MasterChef” came knocking, and she became a real-world star, too. In 2018, her baking cred and TV stardom collided when she was featured in an episode of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table: Pastry.”
He’s one of the most knowledgeable and trustworthy chefs in the food world, but Andrew Zimmern will probably always be best known as the guy who eats weird stuff. We can’t look away from Zimmern’s “Bizarre” series of shows on the Travel Channel (RIP “Bizarre Foods,” which ended in 2018), and we can’t wait to see what he eats next.
The OG of celebrity chefs, Wolfgang Puck continues to charm us even into his eighth decade. The man behind more than 100 restaurants worldwide still makes the talk show and Home Shopping Network (where he sells a line of kitchen gadgets) rounds. He was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017, the second chef to receive the honor.
We already knew Mark and Donnie, but A&E’s “Wahlburgers” introduced us to a third brother, Paul, the chef behind the burger joint of the same name. The reality show, which ran for 10 seasons from 2014 to '19 and even garnered an Emmy nomination for best reality show, followed the trio as they opened more and more Wahlburgers across the country.
He’s mostly in the spotlight for his music, but the Roots drummer has a major passion and talent for food that he shares with fans via an online show (“Questlove’s Food Salon”), a cookbook with famous chefs (“Mixtape Potluck,” 2019) and an Instagram account dedicated to what he’s eating (Questlovesfood).
Alton Brown is a sort of Mr. Wizard-meets-MacGyver, a television food personality who relies on his brain and ingenuity instead of his looks. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Brown’s looks.) From “Good Eats” (which made its triumphant return to television in 2019) to “Iron Chef America” (which ran from 2005 to 2018) to “Cutthroat Kitchen,” the fast-talking, Georgia-accented Brown has become one of our most trusted food personalities. Did you know he has an adorable rescue Boston terrier named Scabigail? That’s just one of the many things you might not know about your favorite Food Network stars.
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