So You Want to Be A Celebrity Chef?

Ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a celebrity chef? Walk into culinary schools everywhere and ask students how many of them have dreams of becoming the next big thing in the cooking world, and you’ll be surprised how many enter school with that goal in mind.

By the time they leave, it’s usually a different story, but the Food Network as well as reality TV shows have given many cooks the idea that they have what it takes to become the next Rachael Ray.

What is a Celebrity Chef and is this an obtainable dream?

There are several types of celebrity chefs. The first thing that most people think of when they think of “celebrity” chefs are  names like Emeril Lagasse or Gordon Ramsay. In the culinary world, this is as good as it gets.  I’m not trying to crush anyone’s dream, but becoming the next Emeril is about as likely as becoming the next Brad Pitt. Which isn’t to say it can’t happen, but the odds are stacked against you. If you have a passion for cooking and food, and just have to be in the limelight, there are other ways of doing so that are much more obtainable. Think about the city where you live.

If you’re active in the local food community, there are probably restaurants and business owners that everyone knows about. Restaurant reviewers, as well as local TV news segments can all make someone stand out. In the city in which I live, a woman opened an ice cream shop a few years ago. Since then she has exploded on the local food scene. She does plenty of local events, has opened several more shops in town, and has been featured in national publications, and even the Food Network. The farther you get out of town, the less people who know her, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone here in town who hasn’t had her ice cream or wouldn’t recognize her on the street. 

Her ice cream is daringly different of course, and she’s good at what she does, but she is definitely a celebrity in her own right. Okay, so how can I become a celebrity in my own right? Well, just like making your way to the Food Network, even becoming a local or regional celebrity is not something that’s going to happen overnight. You have to have a dynamic personality, an idea and a lot of ambition, and a connection or two can’t hurt. You first have to figure out what your passionate about. Generally, when people are passionate about a certain topic, they excel at it. To get to the top, you have to first figure out what’s going to make you stand out.

If you think you have what it takes to become the hot new restaurant in town, figure out what your specialty is, learn the ins and outs of the restaurant business (and business in general), and go for it. Do something that’s never been done before, and do it well. Get feedback from family and friends about whether they think your idea is good and whether it will catch on. If you live in farm country and there aren’t any vegan restaurants, that’s probably because it’s just not the type of area in which a vegan place would succeed. Don’t open a business just because there isn’t one in the area; do it because you love it and it would make you happy. That way, in case you don’t make it to the spotlight, you are still happy with your decision. Get involved in the community. Take part in any local events you can, and meet people.

The best publicity is word of mouth. It doesn’t matter how good of a product you have, if people don’t know it’s out there, they’ll never know who you are.  Talk to as many people as you can, and I can’t stress this enough: BE NICE to people. Everyone, not just people that can help you out.  Be a positive addition to your community. Don’t badmouth other businesses, your customers, and don’t go around town spewing your religious or political beliefs. Nothing can turn fame into shame more than a negative personality.

Most important, don’t let fame be your end all. No matter how hard you try, sometimes it just isn’t meant happen, and you want to be able to fall back on something. Remember, being active in your community is a good thing whether you become famous or not, so if you really enjoy it, you’ll get where you want to be, and who knows maybe you’ll even land on the Food Network someday.

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