What do you want to be when you grow up? You’ve probably heard that question a million times, and you probably had a lot of different answers – a doctor, a famous athlete, a ballerina. Now it’s actually an important thought to consider. It can be very stressful trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and figuring out your plan to get there.
Whether you want to be a famous chef or not, it’s worth taking a look at how this bunch got their foot in the door of their career of choice.
1. Giada De Laurentiis
Giada was born in Italy and moved to the United States when she was 7 years old. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in anthropology, she decided to act on her passion for food and moved to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu, a culinary institute. Following completion, she moved back to L.A. to start her career.
She gained experience working for the Ritz Carlton and Wolfgang Puck’s Spago which led her to start her own catering company, GDL foods. After an article was published about her family’s Sunday meal traditions, a Food Network executive contacted her to start her own cooking show. She now hosts Everyday Italian and Giada at Home.
2. Guy Fieri
Guy was born with a fiery passion for food and started his career at the young age of 10. He started out by selling pretzels from a cart, which eventually earned him enough money to further his culinary education for a year in Paris, when he was just 16. Guy worked in several different restaurants while earning his degree in hospitality management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
After gaining experience as a district manager for Louise’s Trattoria, Guy opened his first restaurant, Johnny Garlic’s, in 1996. In 2006, Guy won the reality TV show, Next Food Network Star, and subsequently began his first TV series. He now hosts Guy’s Big Bite, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and Guy Off the Hook.
3. Aaron Sanchez
Aaron began cooking in New York in his mother’s restaurant, Café Marimba, when he was just 13 years old. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, Aaron returned to New York to work at restaurant Patria.
Aaron worked his way up in the business and became the executive chef of three different restaurants. Aaron is now the chef and owner of Mestizo, has written two books, judged for Chopped, and is a spokesperson for many charitable organizations.
4. Rachael Ray
Rachael grew up in Lake George, NY and knew she wanted to be a chef from a young age. She had a variety of culinary jobs throughout her early life, including working at the candy counter of Macy’s, and managing the restaurant at the Sagamore, a hotel in Lake George.
She eventually opened a restaurant, Agata and Valentina, in New York City. After her “30 Minute Meal” classes were picked up by a local television newscast, she received a contract with Food Network. Rachael has hosted four shows on the Food Network, written many cookbooks, and has a food and lifestyle magazine, Every Day With Rachael Ray.
5. Anthony Bourdain
Anthony was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. He struggled with drug use in his teenage years and turned to food to help him get on the right track. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 and began his career.
He ran the kitchens of many different New York restaurants, such as the Supper Club and Sullivan’s. He then became the executive chef of Brasserie Les Halles in 1998. Anthony has written numerous books and has had three successful television series.
6. Christina Tosi
Before becoming a pastry chef, Christina graduated from James Madison University and studied electrical engineering for a year at the University of Virginia. Afterward, she enrolled in the pastry arts program at the French Culinary Institute. She now co-owns Momofuku Milk Bar and has written two books. In 2015, she received the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award.
7. Bobby Flay
Bobby grew up in Manhattan and dropped out of school at the age of 17. His father got him a job at Joe Allen’s Restaurant and after a short time, his boss paid for him to attend the French Culinary Institute. After graduating and earning his GED, he worked in a variety of New York Restaurants.
In 1991, Bobby opened his first restaurant, Mesa Grill. After Mesa Grill was awarded Best Restaurant 1992, Flay opened several other restaurants. He has also had many appearances on the Food Network.
8. Ina Garten
Ina got her foot in the door in a very unconventional way, which I’m sure we can all relate to. Before she began cooking, she was a nuclear policy analyst for the White House. Then she got interested in cooking, and taught herself from cookbooks.
She never had any formal training, instead she was mentored by Eli Zabar and Martha Stewart which eventually got her name out there. She opened her own food store, Barefoot Contessa, and has now written several books and has a TV show on the Food Network.
9. Alton Brown
Alton grew up in Georgia and studied film at the University of Georgia. After working in cinematography for a decade, Alton decided he wanted to have his own cooking show. He moved to Vermont to attend the New England Culinary Institute.
After culinary school, Alton started producing Good Eats, his own deliciously hilarious cooking show. The show has won several awards and he has written a few books.