10 celebrity chefs who didn’t go to culinary school

  • Celebrity chefs such as Ina Garten, Gordon Ramsay, and Rachael Ray didn’t go to culinary school.
  • Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman, rose to celebrity chef status through her food blog.
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Some successful chefs are the product of esteemed culinary schools, but others have risen to fame without any formal training.

These 10 celebrity chefs honed their skills without going to cooking school.

Despite her fame as a bubbly culinary personality, Food Network star and talk show host Rachael Ray doesn’t call herself a chef.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Ray said she doesn’t call herself a chef because she didn’t attend culinary school.

“I have pause when people refer to me as a chef because I’m simply not,” she said. “I didn’t go to the CIA [Culinary Institute of America]. I’m a pound puppy, not a pedigree. So I think it would be disrespectful to people who did to refer to myself as the same.”

Ree Drummond studied gerontology in college, not cooking.

Drummond’s Pioneer Woman website didn’t start out as a food blog, but the success of her first recipe post about how to cook a steak transformed her into a fan favourite. She’s since become a Food Network host, cookbook author, and the face of a country-inspired lifestyle brand.

Ina Garten taught herself to cook using Julia Child’s cookbooks.

Before cooking, Garten’s expertise was in nuclear energy policy. She worked for the federal government’s Office of Management and Budget before switching gears and buying a specialty food store in Westhampton Beach, New York, called The Barefoot Contessa. The rest is history.

Guy Fieri didn’t go to culinary school, but he studied hospitality management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Fieri gained culinary experience by studying abroad in France and working at the Italian chain Louise’s Trattoria before opening his first restaurant, Johnny Garlic’s. These days, he spends more time sampling signature dishes than preparing them himself as the lively host of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” on Food Network.

Despite judging contestants on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Tom Colicchio doesn’t have formal culinary training himself.

Colicchio picked up his culinary skills in the kitchens of acclaimed New York City restaurants such as The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill, and Mondrian.

Tiffani Thiessen is best known for starring in shows like “Saved by the Bell” and “Beverly Hills 90210,” but she’s also a cooking show host and cookbook author.

Thiessen hosted “Dinner at Tiffani’s” on the Cooking Channel, where she prepared meals for her celebrity friends.

Martha Stewart didn’t publish her first book until she was 41 years old.

Stewart studied history at Barnard and worked as a stockbroker before launching her own catering company and publishing her first book, “Entertaining.” Her name has become synonymous with perfectly crafted recipes that take no shortcuts.

Chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay studied hotel management, not culinary arts.

Ramsay, known for his hot temper and high cooking standards on shows such as “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares,” didn’t attend culinary school himself. He earned a degree in hotel management from North Oxon Technical College, then learned on the job in the kitchens at Harvey’s and La Gavroche in London.

Nigella Lawson doesn’t call herself a chef, despite her nomination for Observer Food Monthly’s chef of the decade award in 2013.

A self-described “kitchen klutz,” Lawson’s lack of formal training hasn’t stopped her from becoming a successful food writer, cookbook author, and host of shows such as “Nigella Bites,” “Nigella Feasts,” and “The Taste.”

Thomas Keller was the first American chef to earn two three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide, though he never went to culinary school.

Instead of attending culinary school, Keller studied under chefs at restaurants in the US and France, beginning with La Reserve in 1984. He went on to launch two acclaimed restaurants of his own, The French Laundry and Per Se.

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