I’ve always been skeptical about skinny chefs. Especially those with famous family. So when I first saw the attractive but bony Giada De Laurentiis (whos Grandfather is indeed the famous film-maker Dino) on the Food Network, I pooh-bah’d her for a while.
Until I tried my sister’s Chicken Piccata at a family lunch, which was delicious and (surprise, surprise!) a Giada recipe. So now, I must eat my words and admit that skinny, glamorous-looking women can be great chefs…..but isnt it so much more inspiring to see Mario in his fullness or Nigella bursting out of her denim jacket in the kitchen?
A private chef and caterer in Los Angeles, Giada (pronounced Jah-dah) had no intention of getting into the family business of entertaining ( the Dino connection).
She was born in Rome, Italy in 1970. At the age of seven, her family moved to southern California. She attended UCLA where she attained a degree in social anthropology.
Giada’s passion for cooking flourished through professional training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she specialized in both cuisine and pastry. Later, she moved to Los Angeles, where her experience included positions at the prestigious Ritz Carlton Fine Dining Room and Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills. Soon after, Giada started her own catering company, GDL Foods.
In addition to Everyday Italian, as the host of Behind the Bash, Giada takes viewers behind the scenes of six-figure weddings, high-roller Vegas soirees and Hollywood movie premieres to see what goes into creating the world’s most spectacular parties.
Giada is the author of The New York Times best-selling cookbook Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes
Now that Nigella’s crossed the Atlantic, few people in the world have not heard of the English Domestic Goddess who cooks like a dream and writes like a pro – and best of all, always looks fabulous. Her cooking style is easy, relaxed and sensual, backed up by cookbooks with gorgeously photographed food and witty writing.
One of the UK’s most influential food writers, Nigella was born in 1960 and read Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford University. Her successful career in journalism included being Deputy Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, and writing the leading newspapers in the UK, as well U.S magazines Gourmet and Bon Appetit. She then began writing the restaurant column for The Spectator, and the food column for Vogue, which led her to the publication of her first book in 1998, “HOW TO EAT: The pleasures and principles of good food”. With the UK TV cooking show “Nigella Bites”, a cookbook tie-up with the sametitled, followed by a ground-breaking baking book titled “HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS: Baking and the art of comfort cooking”, Nigella was on her way to international fame, and won numerous book awards in the UK.
Behind her career success however, Nigella has had more than her fair share of tragedy. Daughter of the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, her Mother died of liver cancer in 1985, and her Sister (who was in her early thirties) of breast cancer in 1993. In 2001 her husband, journalist John Diamond died of throat cancer leaving Nigella a widow with two young children. In 2003 she married advertising maven and art collector Charles Saatchi and in 2005, her biography by Gilly Smith, entitled “Nigella Lawson” was published. The paperback, subtitled “A Very British Dish” will be out in this summer.
If you want to talk American Cuisine, one of the first names to come to mind is Charlie Palmer. His steaks are a must eat if you are in Las Vegas or in DC. Of course that isn’t all he makes.
Charlie Palmer says he never really planned to become chef. Sports was what he was into. In fact he was a linebacker in high school. Thanks to a dare from a neighbor and working at the Colgate Inn Charlie found his way to cooking.
Charlie Palmer trained at the Culinary Institute of America. His style though isn’t french, it is considered progressive American. As he explains, “I realized that American cuisine was just in its infancy and I spent a lot of time thinking about what the idea of American cooking really meant to me as a chef”.
His distinctive style first began emerging while he was working at the River Cafe as its executive chef. The New York Times rated him three stars.
Now, Charlie Palmer has a great restaurant empire. His establishments include teh Aureole, ALva and Metrazur in New York. In Las Vegas he has the Aureole at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and the Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas. He owns a boutique hotel Healsburg in California which is where his Dry Creek Kitchen is located. He also owns and operates Astra and Astra West, beautiful catering and event spaces in New York and Los Angeles respectively.
Don’t think though that he has left the kitchen. This master chef thinks nothing of jumping in and working beside his staff at anytime. He is more creative than ever and enjoying creating new recipes for his guests to savor.
Charlie Palmer has written three cookbooks: Great American Food, Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking and the Art of Aureole. He is also a frequent guest on the Today Show of NBC.
“Live, love, eat!” says Wolfgang Puck, the man who is probably one of the pioneers of celebrity chefdom. With his thick Austrian accent (think of Governor Arnie, his compatriot), and somewhat wooden tv persona, one could wonder how Wolfgang Puck has managed to build a food empire.
Aside from his iconic restaurants from Beverly Hills to Tokyo, Puck has written many cookbooks, has his own cooking shows (as well as played himself in several movies and television shows like American Idol and Frasier), and sells ready-made food and sauces under is own label “Wolfgang Puck”. On top of that, he also now has a line called the Wolfgang Puck Bistro which sells own-name appliances, kitchen tools and cookware!
Wolfgang Puck was born in Sankt Veit an der Glan in Austria as Wolfgang Topfschnig. His father, a well-off butcher left them after his birth, and his mother later remarried Josef Puck, who adopted Wolfgang. His mother, a part-time professional cook, taught the young Wolfgang the art of pastry-making, and probably inspired him to follow the in the same career.
Without formal training, Wolfgang worked as apprentice to some notable chefs in France, in Provence (L’Oustau de Baumaniere) and Paris (Maxim’s). After more stints in New York and Indianapolis, Puck found himself in California where he brought new life into Ma Maison, which went from failure to becoming a revered celebrity haunt, followed by the now-legendary Spago.
Wolfgang Puck must have a way celebrities, and this, along with his obvious business acumen, and natural flair for food (he is known for innovating the distinct flavour of the “California Pizza” has made Hollywood’s favourite chef what he is today.
How many people can say that they’ve cooked for the queen before entering their teens? Not that many, that’s for sure. James Martin was born into the life of a chef. His dad ran the catering side of Castle Howard which meant James was exposed very early to the intricacies of fine dining. He began his formal training in Scarborough technical college at age 16.
His work caught the attention of Antony Worrall Thompson who brought him to London. He worked in the kitchens of 190 Queensgate, and later in dell’Ugo. He later left England, traveling to France to increase his knowledge and culinary skills in the kitchen’s of some the grand old families of that country.
Upon returning to England in 1993, he took on the position of the Hotel du Vin and Bistro in Winshester from the time of its opening. He is known to have changed the menu there everyday. His skill and the variety apparently attracted many clients. There was an 8 week waiting list just to get a table.
In 1996, James Martin became a regular member of the TV program Ready Steady Cook catapulting him to public notice. He has now appeared on a string of TV shows including Stately Suppers, Castle in the Country, Yorkshire’s Finest and Saturday Kitchen Live. He even shoed off his dancing skills on the show Strictly Come Dancing.
James Martin also has several cookbooks under his name. His first cookbook, Eating In with James Martin, was published in October 1998. His other cookbooks include Great British Dinners and the Deli Cookbook.
An Italian-American whose humble beginnings included a job as dishwasher in a Brunswick, New Jersey restaurant eloquently called “Stuff Yer Face”, and pizza man during his college years at Rutgers University, where he read Spanish Theatre. Mario then moved to Europe where he learned more about his craft at the Cordon Bleu in London, and an apprenticeship later on with London’s legendary chef Marco Pierre White, followed by more intensive training in the tiny village of Borgo Capanne in Northern Italy.
With his roots now firmly in Italian cooking, Mario, together with partner, Joe Bastianich, opened his flagship restaurant, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, 1998 to rave reviews. Babbo was awarded “The Best New Restaurant of 1998” by The James Beard Foundation, and Ruth Reichl at the New York Times bestowed it with three stars.
More successful Italian restaurants followed, with Roman-style trattoria Lupa in 1999; Esca, a southern Italian seafood trattoria, in New York’s Theater District in 2000; and Otto Enoteca Pizzeria (serving pizza, pasta, house-cured salami, vegetables, and 600 wines), located near historic Washington Square Park, as well as the wine shop “Italian Wine Merchants”.
In late 2003, Mario decided to delve into Spanish cuisine, with Spanish-style taverna Casa Mono and the adjacent tapas bar, Bar Jamon featuring wonderful Spanish cheeses, hams, wines and small plate specialties. Next was Bistro du Vent in 2004, whose concept was southern French comfort food and a wine bar (with over 300 wine selections). In 2005, the unstoppable team opened Del Posto, in the Meat Packing district, together with Joe’s mother, Lidia Maticchio Bastianich.
On television, Mario is indeed a very familiar face around the world, because of countless appearances on news and talk shows, and of course his own shows on the Food Network, Molto Mario, Mario Eats Italy, and Ciao America!. As for awards, Mario’s list of accolades has been growing, the latest one being the national award “All-Clad Cookware Outstanding Chef Award” from the James Beard Foundation in 2005.
Mario currently makes his home in New York with his wife Susi Cahn (daughter of Miles and Lillian Cahn, founders of Coach Leather) and their two sons, Leo and Benno.
Celebrity chefs nowadays are not all about ego and fancy restaurants. Ok, you have the Hollywood legends like Wolfgang and the Iron Chefs like Mario, but many of them were not even formally trained, nor do they have trendy restaurants in smart neighborhoods.
Take the Naked Chef for example. About a year ago, English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver went on a quest to change the school dinners served in the United Kingdom, believing that the fat-laden, processed food served in most school halls were badly affecting children all over the country.
Born in 1975, Jamie literally grew up in the kitchen of his father’s pub/restaurant, the The Cricketers, in Clavering, Essex. By the time he was 16, he knew that he wanted to be a chef, so he left school and ended up at the The Neal Street Restaurant as the pastry chef of for Antonio Carluccio (another notable Italian Chef in the UK). Here, Jamie learned how to make the most fantastic Italian breads and fresh pastas he is known for today.
It was at the River Café of Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers that Jamie was discovered by televison. A documentary about the restaurant was being filmed and the editors decided to show a lot of this cheeky kid who was so into the cooking that he’d answer back to the crew… The day after the programme was shown, Jamie got calls from five production companies, and eventually the Naked Chef was born. The idea it was to strip food down to its bare essentials – to prove that you didn’t need to dress up ingredients or buy a load of fancy gadgets to make something really tasty. Following this, Jamie decided to help disadvantaged youngsters, and started to mentor fifteen unemployed or homeless people to train as chefs for his restaurant also called Fifteen.