Estimated Net Worth: $40 million
As Seen On: Top Chef
Okay, so technically Padma Lakshmi is not a chef. She started her career as a model and actress. But still, after hosting 16 (!) seasons of Top Chef, she has definitely earned herself a spot on this list. Plus, you don’t release three cookbooks without knowing a thing or two about cooking.
Lakshmi began her modeling career at 21 when she was studying abroad in Madrid and said: “I was the first Indian model to have a career in Paris, Milan, and New York. I’m the first one to admit that I was a novelty.”
Estimated Net Worth: $3 million
Restaurant: Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria
As Seen On: Unique Eats, Chopped, American Diner Revival
A Food Network frequent, Amanda Freitag is a celebrity chef you have to know. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1989 and started working in the field right away. Her first job after graduating was at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant, Vong. After five years, she left the restaurant for other food-related endeavors, including working in France and Italy.
She started her own restaurant called Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria in 2003. Her latest TV appearance is with Ty Pennington on the TV show American Diner Revival, where she and Ty transform restaurants both in terms of menu and design.
Estimated Net Worth: $2 million
As Seen On: The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Cooking Loft with Alex Guarnaschelli, and more
Some people have their talent embedded in their genes, and Alexandra (Alex) Guarnaschelli is definitely one of those people. Her mother, Maria, was a cookbook editor, and she recalls watching her mother testing cookbook recipes in their kitchen when she was little.
Years went by and Guarnaschelli has become a culinary personality in her own right. She appeared on several Food Network shows, including Chopped and Iron Chef America. In 2013, her first cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook, was released. It features recipes as well as personal memories. Her mama must be proud.
Estimated Net Worth: $45 million
Restaurant: Papine Jerk Centre
As Seen On: Dragon's Den, Caribbean Food Made Easy
The British-Jamaican reggae artist Levi Roots was a well-known musician way before his cooking career. He became a culinary personality upon releasing his famous Caribbean barbecue sauce — Reggae Reggae Sauce. This sauce can now be found in many households in England.
Levi's famous sauce was first sold at food trade shows in England, which is where he was approached by a BBC producer who offered him a spot on Dragon's Den, the British reality show. Thanks to the show, the sauce started selling in supermarkets around the UK and is being enjoyed by many Brits out there.
Estimated Net Worth: $50 million
Restaurant: Vij's, Rangoli, My Shanti
As Seen On: Dragon's Den
Vikram Vij makes his living from the culinary arts, but he would have been uber-successful even if he wasn't a chef. He has a good business sense, which has given him a spot as an investor in the Canadian version of the British reality show, Dragon's Den.
When it comes to food, the man has three restaurants, two cookbook collaborations, and a formal training both as a chef and a sommelier. Basically, whatever culinary endeavor you can mention — he's done it.