surinenglish

Chefs of fortune

Working as a chef in a famous restaurant is not a sure-fire way of becoming rich. In fact, unlike other occupations, we are seldom told how much a star chef earns, and we may be surprised by the relatively low figure.

British super chef Jaime Oliver is, however, at 45, one of the richest people on the planet, and his wealth is calculated at 330 million euros. Oliver was discovered when the BBC went filming at the River Café restaurant where he was working, and a producer spotted his natural talent in front of the camera. Soon he would have his own TV show, The Naked Chef, and not too much later his cookbooks started beating sales records. Amazingly, he is the best-selling author of non-fiction work in the UK. Later his campaigns to improve school and other institutional food would earn him a gong from the Queen, and he is still heavily involved in philanthropic activities.

Oliver built up the Jamie's Italian chain to 42 branches in 10 countries. Unfortunately it has just closed 17, causing bad feeling all round and widely-publicised tweets such as 'Jamie, pay your suppliers!' His steakhouse initiative, Barbecoa, also failed and is in administration. And while these financial disasters would sink many an entrepreneur, they only make a small dent in Oliver's huge fortune. He will still be millions ahead of Gordon Ramsay, whose restaurants combine 16 Michelin stars, and is also a TV star. His worth has been put at six million, though other estimates are much higher. Austrian Wolfgang Puck made his 60 million fortune from books, acting, restaurants, catering and franchises. The well-known New York-based chef Anthony Bourdain has been a TV star most of his professional life, but his best-seller, 'Kitchen Confidential', added substantially to his six-million fortune. Late-lamented Paul Bocuse tried to keep out of the TV limelight, but this did not stop his publishing career bringing in four million euros from recipe books.

The moral of all this is obvious. If you are a cook, forget about cooking and pick up your pen instead.