Julia Child

Photo courtesy of cntraveler.com

Food icon Julia Child made French cooking more popular and less intimidating in America with iconic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She studied history at Smith College and right after, worked as a copywriter for a furniture company. It wasn’t until later in life that she found her niche in food when she moved to France for her husband’s job. There she attended the renowned culinary school Le Cordon Bleu. Julia was also a WWII spy. Talk about badass.

Alton Brown

Photo courtesy of megwood.com

Now a Food Network star and celebrity chef with his show Good Eats, Alton Brown‘s college days involved studying film at the University of Georgia and working as a video director. Eventually he enrolled New England Culinary Institute with the hopes of starting a cooking show.

Giada De Laurentiis

Photo courtesy of celebritychef.tv

Giada is a poster chef for Italian food, with her successful Food Network shows and cookbooks Everyday Italian and Giada at Home. She was an anthropology major at UCLA, but moved to France after college to attend Le Cordon Bleu. I bet she took some food anthropology classes in college.

Bobby Flay

Photo courtesy of thefamouspeople.com

Bobby Flay is a renowned American chef and restaurant owner who always had a passion for food. He was a high school dropout who didn’t even make it to college. Bobby worked as a busboy, but impressed his boss so much with his cooking skills that his boss paid for him to go to the French Culinary Institute in New York. That talent though.

Rachel Ray

Photo courtesy of enjoywithtaste.com

Rachael is a celebrity chef and her show 30 Minute Meals was huge hit on Food Network. She currently has her own talk show, the Rachael Ray Show, and her own magazine, Rachael Ray Every Day. She majored in Communication and Literature at Pace University but dropped out after two years to pursue her interest in food. She got a job at Macy’s starting as a counter girl and moved her way up to managing the food department before making it big with her show.

Anthony Bourdain

Photo courtesy of celebchefs.net

Anthony Bourdain is a well-established chef and author and stars in his own show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. He worked jobs in seafood restaurants, dropped out of Vassar College and decided to go to the Culinary Institute of America. He then became an executive chef and rose to fame after his article “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” was published in The New Yorker.

Mario Batali

Photo courtesy of media.mlive.com

Mario Batali is a famous chef and restaurant owner who focuses on Italian cuisine and has starred in several cooking shows on the Food Network. He studied Spanish Theater at Rutgers University but enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu London after college. He came back to the U.S. and opened the popular Italian NY based restaurants Babbo, Otto, Esca and Lupa.

Emeril Lagasse

Photo courtesy of images.forbes.com

Emeril has his own line of culinary products, cooking shows and restaurants. In choosing to pursue food after high school, he turned down a full ride to the New England Conservatory of Music for percussion and attended the culinary school at Johnson and Wales University instead.

Rick Bayless

Photo courtesy of seriouseats.com

Rick Bayless is a chef who specializes in Mexican cuisine and is famous for his cookbooks and show Mexico: One Plate at A Time. He majored in Spanish and Latin and American culture at the University of Oklahoma (and even considered acting!) then went on to get a PhD in Anthropological Linguistics at the University of Michigan. Smart cookie, eh? After finishing school he started writing the cookbooks that made him famous.

Gordon Ramsay

Photo courtesy of amahighlights.com

Gordon Ramsay’s the chef famous for yelling at people on his shows Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. He’s also a successful restaurant owner. Gordon originally wanted to be a professional athlete, but sustained an injury that ended his soccer career, so he went back to school to study hotel management at North Oxfordshire Technical College. After graduation he worked with master chefs, eventually becoming one himself.

Guy Fieri

Photo courtesy of slate.com

Guy Fieri is a Food Network star who worked various jobs in restaurants while going to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to study hospitality management. After college he worked as a chef and decided to audition for The Next Food Network Star. He won and soon after, his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives became a hit.


Clearly there’s no straight path to becoming a biggie in the food industry. Even Steve Ells, the guy who founded Chipotle, studied Art History in college. Regardless of what you’re doing right now or what you’re doing in ten years, it’s never too late to become the next Anthony Bourdain.