Ask LH: Do Celebrity Chefs Actually Work In Their Restaurants?

Hi Lifehacker, I'm just wondering: how many nights a week do 'celebrity chefs' actually work in their restaurants? Thanks, Cooking Good

Photo: ABC

Dear CG,

It varies depending on a range of factors, including how famous they are, their current celebrity commitments and the number of restaurants they actively own. Indeed, some celebrity chefs, such as Curtis Stone and Poh Ling Yeow, do not own or work at any restaurants at all.

It's not uncommon for celebrity chefs to lend their name and/or branding to restaurants that they have no day-to-day involvement with. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen chain, which was set up to give disadvantaged youths a chance to work, is one example of this.

Other chefs are too overstretched — or disinterested — to show up at their own restaurants: Gordon Ramsay was once famously criticised by his own protégé for not spending enough time in his kitchen, for instance.

Even the most dedicated celebrity chefs rarely follow a scheduled roster; they're simply too busy with other commitments. As a rule of thumb, if the chef owns just one restaurant and isn't in the middle of any celebrity work (such as reality TV or a book launch) there's a higher chance of them showing up in the kitchen.

Even if they do make an appearance, you're probably not going to get your meal cooked by them. Most celebrity chefs take on a managerial role and leave the actual running of the kitchen in the hands of their executive head chef.

In other words, while you're welcome to sample their personal menu, don't expect them to chop up the onions or you'll probably be disappointed.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Where's Angus...? there != their

      And 'uninterested' not 'disinterested'. (This isn't just a pedantic comment - the two words have completely different meanings, and it'd be a pity to lose a useful word like 'disinterested'.)

        According to the Macquarie Dictionary, both words are acceptable in the above context.

    I thought Curtis Stone started his first restaurant this year.

      Fair enough, but he was a celebrity chef last year too, sans restaurant. So the point still stands. :-P

        I thought he just spent his time talking to farmers and working out ways to make a $50 meal look like a $10 meal. Oh, and piss about with Oprah and the like...

    I'm no fan of Curtis, but he was head chef at one of Marco Pierre White's restaurants - I don't think comparing him to Poh is fair at all.

    Dear Lifehacker
    When did chefs become celebrities?
    Yours, Like WFT

      It's sourced from wikipedia, but apparently since the 16th Century...

      Last edited 20/05/14 3:39 pm

      'Celebrity' essentially means 'well known'. Curtis Stone is a 'celebrity' chef because he is well known, because he regularly appears on a medium viewed by a large number of people. Not because he went to Official Celebrity School and got a B.Celeb/B.Arts double degree.

      Oh, wait, you were doing that hilarious internet thing whereby you imply that your ignorance somehow reflects poorly on someone else. I get it. 'LOL'.

    The couple of times I've dined at Billy Kwong, Kylie Kwong was there.

      Same goes for my experiences at Hellenic Republic in Melbourne. Both times I've seen George there managing the staff.

        How did you fare in the 3 days post meal?

          Haha I had to look up what you meant. Guess I might give it a miss next time I go to Melbourne!

    It's a strange idea that if you don't get a meal cooked by the owner of a restaurant you are somehow being 'ripped off'. You are paying for the meal, not a personal audience.

    Anyone who thinks 'fine dining' (ie, Michelin Star or the approximate local equivalent) level food is made by one guy anyways should probably keep their opinions to themselves. The idea that Keller or Blumenthal are out back, whipping up seventeen courses by themselves for thirty diners is pretty amusing, though.

    Last edited 20/05/14 4:01 pm

      As long as the menu has been designed from the ground up by the chef lending their name to the establishment and the execution of such put in the hands of key personnel personally trained by that chef to make it to his specifications, then it is just as good as having them there to cook it themselves IMO.

      It's kind of like playing on a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and being annoyed that it doesn't come with the privilege of playing a round with him as well. ;)

    @pinchie It's not just the Macquarie Dictionary that defines disinterested this way. In any event, we'll be sticking to the Australian dictionary which obviously reflects local definitions more accurately than British or US dictionaries. Also, the Oxford/Cambridge definitions you quote from concede that the line between 'uninterested' and 'disinterested' is blurring. You're fighting against a tide that has already turned. Let it go.

    I found the comment section more interesting than the article.

    Great article nonetheless!

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