The launch and subsequent success of the Food Network cable channel in the early 1990s spawned a new generation of shows and channels dedicated to food and brought chefs, hosts and personalities to millions of people's homes. The rise of celebrity cooking shows made chefs and hosts Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray and Paula Deen household names. A television cooking show host's earnings can consist of a salary, plus proceeds from the sale of books and merchandise.
The Top Earner
Rachael Ray is the host of several Food Network shows including "30 Minute Meals", "$40 a Day" and "Tasty Travels." She began hosting a nationally syndicated talk show and the publication of her magazine in 2007. She earned approximately $18 million with all of her revenue sources in 2008, according to "Forbes" magazine.
Gordon Ramsay, host of "Hell's Kitchen,” is estimated to have earned $7.5 million in 2008, according to "Forbes." Paula Deen, of the Food Network, earned about $4.5 million from her salary, sales of her books and merchandise. Mario Batali host of "Molto Mario" and one of the American "Iron Chefs" is reputed to earn $3 million. Bobby Flay, host of several shows on the Food Network, and Anthony Bourdain, host of "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel, are both estimated to have earned $1.5 million in 2008.
Average Chef Salary
The annual mean wage of a chef or head cook was $44,780 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chefs and cooks in the 90th percentile earned at least $70,960 per year, while those in the 10th percentile earned, on average, $23,260. The average salary of a chef/owner/CEO of a restaurant was $79,222, while the average salary of an executive chef was $74,891, according to a 2010 survey of over 1,000 restaurant industry professionals conducted by Star Chefs.
Average TV Host Salary
The mean annual earnings for a television and radio announcer was $39,910 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those specifically in broadcast television or radio earned $38,610 per year, while hosts and announcers on cable and other subscription programming was $59,650.
- "Forbes"; Ten Top-Earning Celebrity Chefs; Chaniga Vorasarun; August 2008
- Television Food Network: Rachael Ray Biography
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010 -- Chefs and Head Cooks
- "Media Market Journal"; Food Network Announces Stellar August 2011 Ratings
- "Star Chefs"; 2010 StarChefs.com Chef Salary Report; Francoise Villeneuve and Laura Curtis
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Radio and Television Announcers