Some celebrity chefs stick with their cookbooks and TV shows, some just lend their name and some go the full route of actually producing a line of products. But like many sports figures who actually make far more money from their endorsements than from their sport, many cooks seem to have hit pay dirt with their own personal line of gadgets, cooking apparatus and seasoning lines. The list is seemingly endless, but here is who tops the hit parade:
Michael Chiarello – this Italian foods chef seems happy with his family vineyard, award-winning Napa restaurant and cookbooks, all of which keep him busy.
Guy Fieri – wild and vivacious restaurant owner and Food Network star, he hawks a simple line of kitchen gadgets, cutlery and T-shirts on his website.
Rachael Ray – better known for her chirpy, giggly personality than her cooking, she showcases a line of kitchen gadgets, cookware and bakeware, which is ironic since she's the first to tell you she doesn't bake.
George Foreman – likable ex-boxer who followed Ron Popeil's lead and hawks his own incredibly successful counter top grills.
Martha Stewart – a mega industry in and of herself, with videos, cookbooks, linens,and even her own magazine.
Giada de Laurentis – following Martha Stewart's lead, she is a veritable corporation with her own cookware, gadgets, cookbooks and has recently ventured into the restaurant business.
Paula Deen – Southern cook sells an extensive line of gadgets, cookware and utensils plus baked goods, and of course her famous Savannah restaurant (strangely missing from her line is a large butter dish).
Bobby Flay – prefers the route of cookbooks and eateries but does sell a simple line of discount grilling gear including (no surprise here) stainless steel BBQ sauce pots with a built-in silicone brush.
Ina Garten – focuses on cookbooks (and husband Jeffrey) but could definitely profit from a king-sized salt shaker.
Gordon Ramsay – so incredibly busy with his TV shows, cookbooks and restaurants, he does endorse a simple tasteful line of tableware for British china giant Royal Doulton, along with cutlery.
Jamie Oliver – quiet, unpretentious Brit who sells an extensive line of kitchen gadgets.
Nigella Lawson – popular British food writer and cooking hostess has her own line of dishware, cooking supplies, and utensils.
Emeril Lagasse – beloved New Orleans-style chef, popular cooking show host and restaurant owner, he offers an extensive line of sauces and seasonings as well as high quality cutlery.
Paul Prudhomme – top New Orleans chef who practically invented Creole and Cajun cooking, understandably made his mark not only as a successful chef and restaurateur but created an expansive line of spices and marinades.
Wolfgang Puck – does it all, with restaurants, food products and cookware (his line of frozen foods bombed a few years–can't win 'em all).
Thomas Keller – world-class chef and restaurateur, he sells a pricey set of cookware through Williams Sonoma called TK (clearly not for those on a budget).
Paul Bocuse – French chef considered the “Father of Culinary Art” runs the gamut with cookware, restaurants, food products and even a double oven cooking range for serious and professional chefs only (or those who can afford to pretend they are).
Jack LaLanne – America's most recognized early TV exercise guru, he revolutionized the juicing industry and still has his name on a top line of juicers.
And no one can count out foodie president Thomas Jefferson, who missed the boat by almost two centuries with the first French ice cream maker, which he discovered in France and brought back to America in the early 1800s.
Sadly several of the above mentioned professionals are no longer with us, but their legacies live on in their products lines.
So the big question remains: do these chefs really design and test their products, do they simply lend their name, or are they micro managers of production and marketing? No one's talking. Are the pricey ones better than the economical ones, or are consumers just paying for a high-priced name? It's anybody's guess. But in this author's humble opinion, she'd sure want to “try before you buy” and then perhaps just stick with a good old paring knife, a little elbow grease and the pots and pans her mother used.