The Quick Report

The Most Famous Chefs and Which Culinary School They Attended

Ever wonder how the most famous chefs in the world began their culinary careers? You’re about to find out! Through a combination of culinary school, raw talent, and hard work, these chefs turned their passion for food into success!

There are many paths one can take to success. Not all of the world’s best chefs attended universities. Some chose trade schools, and one even started at a vocational high school. Check out how some of the world’s greatest chefs began their careers!

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Bobby Flay: The French Culinary Institute, California, USA 

Bobby Flay is a mega-successful chef who owns numerous restaurants and franchises. Bobby produced at least 11 cooking series on television, for which he has won four Daytime Emmy awards. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Bobby had a call-in show on Sirius XM radio. He has authored at least 14 cooking books. Flay also launched Made by Nacho, a premium cat food company.

With all that massive success, how did Flay get started? Bobby was working in a restaurant at the age of 17. The owner was so impressed that he paid for Flay’s tuition at The French Culinary Institute in Campbell, California. Bobby attended culinary school after earning his high school equivalent of a diploma.

Flay was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2015.

Emeril Lagasse: Diman Vocational High School, Massachusetts, USA

With regular guest appearances on Good Morning America, as well as four best-selling cookbooks, Emeril Lagasse has had success in every avenue of the culinary field.

Emeril began his foray into the culinary world by working at a local Portuguese bakery as a teenager. From there, he later enrolled in the culinary arts program at Diman Vocational High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1973.


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Lagasse owns six restaurants. His best-selling cookbooks include Louisiana Real and Rustic (1996), Emeril’s Creole Christmas (1997), Emeril’s TV Dinners (1998), and Every Day’s a Party (1999). He also has a line of cookware called Emerilware.

Anthony Bourdain: Culinary Institute of America, New York, USA

The late Anthony Bourdain was one of the world’s most well-known chefs and became a household name.

Bourdain first attended Vassar College for two years where he pursued a degree. Next, he attended and graduated from the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1978.

Anthony came to prominence after writing an article for the New Yorker in 1997 entitled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This.” He wrote and produced five cooking shows on television, and made numerous appearances on other shows as well. He also authored several books. Bourdain died in 2018.

Clare Smyth: Highbury College, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Smyth has made regular appearances on television shows such as Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen. She won the Chef of the Year award in 2013.

Clare Smyth’s culinary aspirations started after she left school at age 16. She began studying catering at Highbury College in Portsmouth, Hampshire. While still attending culinary college, Smyth served an apprenticeship at Grayshott Hall, Surrey.

With her career off and running, Smyth worked her way to serving as Chef Patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay from 2012 to 2016. She became the first female British chef to hold and retain three Michelin stars.

Rocco DiSpirito: Culinary Institute of America, New York, USA /Jardin de Cygne, France

As a celebrity chef, Rocco is active on television and radio, and has published numerous cookbooks as well.

Rocco gained a passion for food due to his Italian heritage and the traditional dishes his mother cooked. At the age of 16, he began studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He went on to study at Jardin de Cygne in France.

DiSpirito first broke into the TV industry with a food network show called The Melting Pot in 2000. He also starred in his own reality show entitled The Restaurant, which showcased the opening of his New York restaurant, Rocco.

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Vikas Khanna: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France

Nothing says “MasterChef” like cooking for President Obama (twice) at the White House, or gifting your cookbook to Queen Elizabeth II.

Khanna originally graduated from the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration in Manipal, India. However, a passion for cooking prompted Vikas to pursue further study under the tutelage of numerous renowned chefs in India and beyond. Further pursuing excellence, Khanna studied at the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. But he didn’t stop there.

Khanna pursued a doctorate which he gained by studying at both Cornell, New York University, and the Culinary Institute of America.

Martin Yan: Overseas Institute of Cookery of Hong Kong/University of California, Davis, USA

Well-known by TV audiences, Martin Yan has appeared on numerous cooking shows as both a host and a judge. He won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1998 for best cooking show. He has also won two James Beard Awards for Best TV Food Journalism and Best TV Cooking Show. Yan is also a prolific author of 19 published cookbooks.

Yan learned to cook at the tender age of 12. While attending Munsang College, he worked at his uncle’s Chinese restaurant. He gained his culinary diploma from the Overseas Institute of Cookery of Hong Kong. He later went on to earn a Master of Science degree in food science from the University of California, Davis.

Yan got his start on television while he was teaching Chinese cooking for a college extension program and appeared on a Canadian talk show in 1978. He is most famous for appearing in over 3,500 episodes of the PBS cooking show Yan Can Cook since 1982. 

Todd English: Culinary Institute of America, New York, America

In 1989, Todd English opened his first Mediterranean-influenced Olives restaurant. From there, he became a prolific restaurateur, chef, television personality, and cookbook author.

At age 15, English first began working in a professional kitchen. At the age of twenty, Todd attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He graduated with honors in 1982.

English now owns restaurants that span the continent from New York to Florida to Las Vegas. He even has restaurants on the ocean aboard the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria. He’s also been the lead chef for Delta Airlines. In 2020, English was considered the 9th highest-earning chef in the world with a net worth of $18.5 million.