Best Celebrity Chef Restaurants
Wolfgang, Emeril, Mario—no last names needed. These chefs are internationally celebrated as superstars of their profession, with a host of successful restaurants, bestselling cookbooks and Food Network shows in their ever expanding empires. With all the hoopla surrounding these cooks, it’s easy to forget that they really can cook—after all, before they became household names, they were toiling away under other chefs, building their reputations through hard work, dedication, engaging personalities and (of course) mad cooking skills before branching out on their own. Even though they’ve gone on to fame and fortune, it’s always a special experience to dine at their flagship eateries. Next time you’re in one of the following cities, book a table with a celebrity chef.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, 176 NORTH CANON DRIVE, 310-385-0880, WOLFGANGPUCK.COM
Some might say that Wolfgang Puck is the original celebrity chef. Though he was born in Austria and trained in France, his sensibility is pure Hollywood. Puck has built a culinary kingdom comprising several fine-dining restaurants (Cut, Chinois, Postrio), casual cafés, a catering business and cookware lines—but his flagship, Spago, which opened in 1982, is still his best known and most beloved eatery. Puck’s seasonal California cuisine on offer at Spago might include Chino Farms roasted beet–and–goat cheese salad, fresh ricotta gnocchi with Sonoma lamb ragout, halibut with morel mushrooms and, of course, Puck’s signature caviar-and-smoked-salmon-topped pizza.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 110 WAVERLY PLACE, 212-777-0303, BABBONYC.COM
Mario Batali is one New York’s most celebrated chefs, cookbook writer and all around bon vivant. He has numerous restaurants, including Del Posto, Bar Jamon and Lupa, but his flagship (with partner Joseph Bastianich) is Babbo, in the heart of Greenwich Village. This casual, two-story, Roman-style trattoria with soft yellow walls and a wood accented bar area serves simple yet sophisticated dishes that use ingredients in surprising ways. Goat-cheese tortellini is paired with dried orange and wild fennel pollen, and linguine with clams and pancetta is spiced with hot chilies. Barbecued squab, grilled octopus and beef-cheek ravioli are also on the menu, and the wine list features all Italian labels.
The Lady & Sons
SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, 102 WEST CONGRESS STREET,912-233-2600, THELADYANDSONS.COM
Paula Deen’s story is legendary: The Georgia-born, white-haired dynamo started out making bagged lunches for businessmen in Savannah (with her two sons,Jamie and Bobby, as delivery boys), which eventually led to a super successful restaurant in the historic district called The Lady and Sons. Food Network shows, bestselling cookbooks and considerable fame have followed. While there are à la carte dishes, such as crab stew and shrimp and grits, on the menu, most folks swear by the buffet. It’s loaded with southern specialties, like fried chicken, barbecued spareribs and hearty sides of creamed potatoes, collard greens and black-eyed peas. Be sure to order the peach cobbler for dessert.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
CHELSEA, ENGLAND, 68 ROYAL HOSPITAL ROAD, +44 20 7352 4441, GORDONRAMSAY.COM
Though Gordon Ramsay—he of the foul temper and even fouler mouth—has become a reality-TV star (with his cringe-inducing but addictive shows Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares), the Scottish-born chef is still one of London’s culinary leaders. His top-rated restaurants, cafés and gastropubs include Petrus, Boxwood Café, Maze and The Narrow, but his flagship is the Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, in Chelsea. Pan-fried Isle of Skye sea scallops and sautéed foie gras with roasted veal sweetbreads are two of the à la carte offerings, while the seven-course, seasonal Prestige Menu might include lobster ravioli, Bresse pigeon with grilled polenta, and Cornish lamb with thyme jus.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, 800 TCHOUPITOULAS STREET, 504-528-9393, EMERILS.COM
This Massachusetts-born Food Network darling, with 10 restaurants and countless cookbooks under his belt, is known worldwide for his Creole-style cuisine and engaging personality (catchphrase: “Bam!”). To see where it all started, head to the Big Easy, where Lagasse has three restaurants. After working in the kitchen of the Brennan family’s legendary Commander’s Palace, he went out on his own, opening Emeril’s in 1990 in the now trendy Warehouse District. The menu at his flagship is full of mouthwatering Creole-style dishes, including gumbo of the day, homemade andouille and boudin sausages with southern cooked greens, and pan-roasted Atlantic salmon with Gulf shrimp in a smoked-pineapple pico de gallo.
These chefs have also achieved celebrity status, most without the boost from TV. Here are their flagship restaurants.
Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar
TORONTO, ONTARIO, 9 CHURCH STREET, 416-362-1957, JAMIEKENNEDY.CA
A local food-movement pioneer in Canada, Kennedy presents small plates of naturally grown products (wild-leek soup, Qualicum Beach scallops, artisanal cheeses) and an extensive selection of wines by the glass. His latest outpost is Café Gilead, in the up-and-coming Corktown neighborhood.
WASHINGTON, D.C., 2401 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE NW,202-296-1166, MARCELSDC.COM
Pepper-encrusted bison in a bordelaise sauce and pan-seared foie gras with roasted pears are two of the standout dishes at this fine dining French-Belgian restaurant owned by chef Robert Wiedmaier (also try nearby Brasserie Beck and Brabo, in Alexandria, Va.).
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, 5700 MOUNT MORIAH ROAD,901-795-4177, NEELYSBBQ.COM
Sample the finger-lickin’ good, Memphis-style barbecue from the Neely family (Pat and his wife, Gina, have a popular Food Network show). Order the pork-rib platter, which comes with baked beans, cole slaw, fries and fresh bread.
No. 9 Park
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 9 PARK STREET, 617-742-9991, NO9PARK.COM
Located in an elegant townhouse in historic Beacon Hill, this upscale restaurant features innovative Italian-French cuisine from Boston-born chef BarbaraLynch. In the South End, visit her more casual spots, B&G Oysters and The Butcher Shop.
DALLAS , TEXAS 1807 ROSS AVENUE, 214-580-7000, STEPHANPYLES.COM
This pioneer of New American and Southwestern cuisine impresses diners with such dishes as lobster mango ceviche, spit-roasted natural chicken, and beef tenderloin with pineapple mole at his eponymous restaurant in the Dallas Arts District.
JILL FERGUS still dreams of the restaurant’s cheese biscuits.