After honoring The 10 Most Influential Women in Food, it’s only right to praise the accomplishments of men for making monumental waves in the food industry as well. This further emphasizes how cooking and loving food is not specific to one gender. Anyone can be successful in this industry as long as there is an overwhelming sense of passion. Take a look at how far these guys have gotten even when obsessing over food was previously considered to be “women’s work.”
1. Jeremy Stoppelman
You may not have heard of Jeremy Stoppelman, but surely you’ve heard of Yelp, right? Yelp is today’s go-to website and app for honest opinions of restaurants, hotels, and local businesses by people who actually go there. How else would I know which cafés to try right away or which steakhouses are just not worth the money? Yelp has become an essential tool many of us have come to cherish, and that’s thanks to the hard work of Mr. Stoppelman.
2. Hugh Grant
The ethical component of Grant’s huge agriculture company Monsanto may not be the most concrete, but he nevertheless has completely changed the way in which Americans purchase their food. Monsanto was the first company to genetically modify plant cells in 1983 and has made produce both less expensive to grow and more accessible to the public. Because of Monsanto’s drastic advances in herbicides, seeds, and other products, they have successfully changed the food game to one of quantity and price, and may continue to do so for years to come.
3. Howard Schultz
Most patrons of the gigantic coffee franchise Starbucks don’t seem to think much about the company itself other than dashing in and out of that place, caramel macchiato in hand, trying not to be too late for class. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, is the head honcho that makes all the magic happen. But his career hasn’t always been rainbows and flowers. When Schultz was searching for banks to loan him money to start his business, he was rejected 242 times, until someone finally showed mercy and assisted in creating the coffee empire Starbucks is known as today.
Fun fact: Schultz used to own the professional basketball team, the Seattle Supersonics.
4. David Chang
If you think you’re obsessed with noodles, you’re nothing compared to David Chang. And if you don’t believe me, check out his super fancy restaurants collectively known as Momofuku the next time you’re in NYC, Sydney, Toronto, or DC. As accurately stated by TIME magazine, “David Chang broke all the rules,” in almost every aspect of the culinary industry as we know it.
Chang has already started to have an impact on global trends in food, only years after opening his restaurants and rising to fame. One of them is the idea of putting pork in everything (Sriracha bacon burger, anyone?) or his new food delivery company, ANDO. Nevertheless, Chang’s career is only beginning and we can’t wait to see how he tackles the food world in years to come.
5. Mario Batali
Who doesn’t know about Mario? This man is one of the most established chefs in the United States, having opened countless restaurants like Esca and Del Posto, hosting and appearing on a ton of shows including Mario Eats Italy and Iron Chef, and even publishing a book or two along the way. His restaurant Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca received three stars from the New York Times and was named “The Best New Restaurant of 1998” by the James Beard Foundation.
He has so many additional awards under his belt we can’t even name them all. Just know that Mario Batali has influenced the way we view, eat, and appreciate food, both on-screen and in-person, and we will be forever grateful to this accomplished fellow.
6. Craig Jinelik
Craig Jinelik is the CEO of the “cheapest, happiest company in the world,” as declared by Bloomberg. And that says a lot. In a world where working in the food industry is often seen as labor-intensive and severely underpaid, Craig is striving to make Costco a great place to work, shop, and munch on tasty samples. If you’re a college student, Costco is a great place to stock up on pretty much anything you’ll need for those months away at college. Don’t let that measly membership fee deter you from enjoying $1 churros or enormous slices of pizza at the food court. Trust us, it’s worth it.
7. Wolfgang Puck
Mr. Puck is the definition of fine dining. He even has three companies all named after him. Not only does he have an approachable disposition, he also has a list of accomplishments longer than the fifth Harry Potter book. Puck was also a contestant on Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters and is the owner of a two-Michelin Star restaurant by the name of Spago, which received its first James Beard Award for outstanding service in 2005.
But most importantly, he is one of the first and most successful chef-turned-businesspeople and can really teach us a lesson or two in mass marketing. These accomplishments are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Wolfgang Puck.
8. Roy Choi
You may not know this genius by name, but you will upon the mention of Korean BBQ taco trucks. Yes, this is the man that started it all and it’s only a pity I can’t personally thank him for making me plan all of my vacations around his spontaneous food truck locations. Choi, coined the “godfather of the food truck movement” by Adweek in their article presenting the 30 Most Influential People in Food, has only added fuel to the fire with his spunky personality, badass work ethic, and unimaginably ambitious plans for the future of the food truck scene.
Odds are you have food trucks chilling on your campus or in your hometown that offers to-die-for eats at any time of day, and it’s all because of this man right here. BRB, I’m gonna grab a kimchi quesadilla, Roy Choi-style.
Fun fact: Choi also mainstreamed the use of Twitter to let his customers know where his food trucks were. Follow him on his Twitter here (@) for all the latest updates and maybe a laugh or two.
9. Andrew Zimmern
The multi-talented Andrew Zimmern has experience on TV, cooking, teaching, and writing. You probably know him from his most famous television series, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, where he willingly tries some of the oddest dishes around the world. He is not just a freaky food fanatic, however, because he’s received an award from the James Beard Foundation for his work on the show, asserting that he clearly knows what he’s doing.
Zimmern depicts how many cultures see seemingly “odd” foods such as cow tongue or live octopus as a delicacy, and we shouldn’t negatively judge a food with so much historical meaning simply by its presentation. Thanks to Zimmern, many people are more accepting of various cuisines around the world.
10. Colonel David Sanders
When noting those influential few, how can we leave out the Colonel? This brilliant man partook in the commercialization of one of the most beloved foods of all time: fried chicken. KFC has taken the world by storm, it being almost as, if not more, popular than McDonald’s in China.
The Colonel undoubtedly worked his way up to being such a successful businessman, starting out by selling chicken on a street during the Great Depression. We are so glad his hard work was met with success, because KFC is the definition of comfort food for too many people worldwide.
While it’s obvious there are plenty more influential males that have contributed to making our foodie scene the way it is now, it’s also nice to highlight the accomplishments of a select few and appreciate that their accomplishments have given us so much. It’s not easy making your name in the food industry. Now, more than ever, people are demanding new, exciting dishes at a reasonable price. Not many people can impress an entire society like these men have.