The entrepreneurs of the food world – exuding more than just cooking expertise but ideas, business acumen and personality – Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck and Jamie Oliver are the statesmen in their chosen professions.
The life stories of the celebrity chefs read like a fairy story. However, behind the glamour and publicity cited by the media are the real narratives which tell of their dedication, hard work and ability to take risks. These skills, together with their enthusiasm for the food industry and their entrepreneurship and personalities, has not only seen them achieve awards and recognition for their restaurants, but to become household names. Their communicative expertise in television programmes, through recipe books and a host of other business concepts has exposed them to wide audiences. GordonRamsay, Wolfgang Puck and Jamie Oliver have instilled new ideas into food preparation, highlighted the importance of nutrition and healthy eating and established an extraordinary profile for the art of culinary expertise. They are more than just chefs.
Scottish celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, star of television programmes ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and ‘Master Chef’, is a well-known personality who has incited audiences world-wide with his temperamental and earthy approach in the kitchen. The fiery chef left behind an early athletic career to commence his cooking career in London.
His rise to celebrity status is built on strong cooking skills which commenced under the direction of some of Europe’s top chefs. He was an apprentice with Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s in London, worked for Albert Roux at Le Gavroche, and then worked under master chefs Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy in France.
In 1993, Ramsay struck out on his own as head chef of the newly opened Aubergine in London where, over the course of three years, he earned the restaurant a two-star rating from Michelin. More personal prestige followed in 1995, when Ramsay was awarded Newcomer of the Year at the prestigious Catey Awards, an Oscars-like event for the restaurant and hotel business. Ramsay left Aubergine and opened his own establishment, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, in 1998 in London. Hailed as a destination for high-end foodies, the restaurant eventually received a three-star rating from Michelin. During the following years the ambitious, hard-driving and temperamental Ramsay opened several new restaurants, including Petrus and a second Gordon Ramsay in London, and eventually Verre in Dubai.
Named Chef of the Year at the 2000 Catey Awards and Independent Restauranteur of the Year in 2006 he built on this success by opening two restaurants in the United States and has since expanded his brand across the world, opening in such countries as South Africa, Australia and Canada.
The television public have been exposed to Ramsey since 1996 when he appeared as a judge on the BBC competitive cooking show MasterChef. He later became the focus of a British documentary ‘Boiling Point’, which tracked his working life as he opened his first restaurant, and through the follow-up programme ‘Beyond Boiling Point’. Further television exposure included a reality show ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare’, in which he sought to turn around failing restaurants, and Hell’s Kitchen, a cooking competition for ten celebrities in which the audiences voted off contestants. These shows were taken-up by American television and debuted on FOX. Audiences loved and hated the abrasive chef as he narrowed the field of participants down to one final winner.
In addition to his work on television and in his restaurants Ramsay has written more than 20 books. His various businesses have been consolidated into Gordon Ramsay Holdings. He was honoured for his impressive record of achievement in 2006 and named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame. Ramsay and wife Tana established the Gordon and Tana Ramsay Foundation in 2014 to help support the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
Austrian born, Wolfgang Puck is renowned throughout the restaurant and hospitality industries as providing the ultimate in all aspects of the culinary arts. He has built an empire that encompasses Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc.
His initial experience was in some of France’s greatest restaurants, including Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and the Michelin 3-star L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence. At the age of 24, he left Europe for the United States where he gained the attention of the Hollywood elite at Ma Maison restaurant. His dynamic personality and culinary brilliance bridged tradition and invention and made Ma Maison a magnet for the rich and famous.
Wolfgang went on to create his first flagship restaurant, Spago, which was an instant success and culinary phenomenon. His early signature dishes, such as haute cuisine pizzas, and Sonoma baby lamb, put him and Spago on the gourmet map. During this time he won many accolades including the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year, twice, and the James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant of the Year. He continued by opening Chinois on Main in Santa Monica which focussed on a fusion of Asian flavours and products and French- and California-based cuisine, in a fine dining setting. This was followed by a third restaurant, Postrio, in the Prescott Hotel, San Francisco, the food based on the multi-ethnic nature of its surroundings with an emphasis on local ingredients.
In 1997, Spago moved to Beverly Hills. The menu combined updated Spago classics and newly conceived items created by the award-winning talents of Managing Partner/Executive Chef Lee Hefter and Executive Pastry Chef Sherry Yard. It also drew inspiration from Wolfgang’s favourite childhood dishes such as Wienerschnitzel and Kaiserschmarren. Spago’s has won two Michelin Stars, one of only three Los Angeles restaurants to achieve this accolade. This was followed by the opening of CUT, a sleek, contemporary steakhouse at the acclaimed Beverly Wilshire which earned a Michelin star after only one year. Wolfgang has changed the way Americans cook and eat by mixing formal French techniques and Asian- and California-influenced aesthetics with the highest quality ingredients. Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) was formed in 1998 to inspire and bring a new level of innovation to restaurant and special event catering and foodservice management in the cultural, corporate and entertainment venues across the country. He also launched a chain of fastcasual restaurants ‘Wolfgang Puck Express’whichfeature signature pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, soups, salads and Wolfgang’s classics. They are located in more than 80 locations throughout the United States, Canada and Japan.
Concurrently with his restaurant and catering operations, Wolfgang Puck has made a name for himself as a communicator. He has written six cookbooks and has been a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning America. His Emmy Award-winning television series, “Wolfgang Puck,” debuted on The Food Network in 2000 and he has made guest appearances on a multitude of television shows. He writes a newspaper column, “Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen,” and is known to television viewers on the Home Shopping Network. He launched his first line of frozen food in 1987 to meet his customers’ desire to enjoy Spago-quality food at home.
Wolfgang is actively involved in many philanthropic endeavours and charitable organizations, including his own Wolfgang Puck-Barbara Lazaroff Charitable Foundation.
Jamie Oliver is a famous British chef, restaurateur, author of cookery books and a media personality. His appeal lies in the simplicity of his recipes and short preparation time. His speciality is Italian cuisine. He is an outspoken campaigner for a healthy system of cooking and maintaining a balanced diet as well as a passionate supporter of the use of local produce and quality ingredients.
He started his career as a pastry chef at Antonio Carluccio’s Neal’s Yard under his mentor Gennaro Contaldo. It was as a sous-chef at The River Cafe that Jamie Oliver was recognised and catapulted onto a world cooking platform. His show, ‘The Naked Chef’ debuted on BBC Two in 1999 and ran for three seasons. In 2000, he launched ‘Pukka Tukka’ on Channel 4 and signed a $2-million deal with the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. In 2002, his show, ‘Jamie’s Kitchen’, a documentary series, followed his attempts to train a group of fifteen disadvantaged youth. Five of the contestants secured a job at Oliver’s new restaurant ‘Fifteen’.
His awards and achievements include an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and the 2010 TED Prize for his campaign to ban unhealthy food in British schools. He was inducted into the ‘Culinary Hall of Fame’ in 2013 and was voted the ‘Most Inspiring Political Figure’ for the ‘Feed Me Better’ campaign that worked toward cutting out junk food in the diets of British schoolchildren.
He has continued his success story in television programmes such as ‘Jamie’s Great Italian Escape’ and ‘Jamie’s Kitchen Australia’. This was followed by ‘Jamie Saves Our Bacon’, which drew world attention to pig farming in the UK and EU, ‘Jamie’s American Road Trip’ and ‘Jamie’s Family Christmas’. He raised $22 million to fund his Italian restaurants in Asia.
‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution’ was an attempt to improve eating habits of city residents. For the first season, Oliver visited Huntington, West Virginia, statistically one of the unhealthiest cities in the US. The show won an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Programme. ‘Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals’ focused on simple, home-cooked meals that could be assembled in 30 minutes. During the next three years he worked on ‘Jamie’s Dream School’, ‘Jamie’s Fish Supper’, ‘Jamie Cooks Summer’, and ‘Jamie’s Britain’. He has appeared on MasterChef Australia and also worked on ‘Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals’, ‘Jamie & Jimmy’s Food Fight Club’, and invested in the Maison Publique, Montreal. He is the chef and proprietor of ‘Jamie Oliver’s Diner’.