Britain's richest chefs

They're all over our television screens and bookshelves, and occasionaly even turn up to work at our favourite restaurants. For the new generation of superstar chefs, it all adds up to a recipe for riches. So who's growing fattest while we pick up the bill? Which cooks have whipped up the biggest celebrity following? And have any of them actually managed to improve our eating habits along the way? Martin Hickman picks through the evidence to reveal the gourmets who really bring home the bacon
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1. GORDON RAMSAY, 39

Worth: £67m

Profile: Britain's most famous chef, arguably the most financially astute and certainly the most strikingly televisual. Born in Glasgow but brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, Ramsay's first love was football; after being spotted at Oxford United, he signed as a professional with Glasgow Rangers aged 15. But a knee injury ended his career and he signed on at hotel management college, later training under Marco Pierre White, then Albert Roux, and later in France. He became head chef and part-owner at London's Aubergine, where he won two Michelin stars within three years.

But he wanted his own place, and opened Gordon Ramsay in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, in 1998. He started building a TV career, appearing as a combative and foul-mouthed instructor in Boiling Point. His pugnacity and Anglo-Saxon vocabulary have proved a winning formula in shows such as Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen. He now has nine restaurants in London, with four chef patrons (Angela Hartnett, Marcus Wareing, Bjorn van der Horst and Mark Sergeant) and two abroad, in Japan and Dubai - though they are operated by franchisees. A major expansion is planned in the US, with openings in New York and Florida in October.

Restaurants: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay; Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's; The Boxwood Cafe at the Berkeley Hotel; Angela Hartnett at The Connaught; The Savoy Grill; Banquette at the Savoy Grill; Pétrus; Maze; La Noisette; Gordon Ramsay at Conrad Tokyo; Verre at the Hilton Dubai Creek. Restaurants scheduled to open include one at Heathrow's new Terminal Five, and others in New York, Florida and Los Angeles.

TV shows: Boiling Point (1998); Beyond Boiling Point (2000); Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (2004); Hell's Kitchen (UK) (2004); The F-Word (2005)

Books: Passion For Flavour (1996); Passion For Seafood (1999); The Real Food Handbook (1999); A Chef For All Seasons (2000); Just Desserts (2001); Secrets (2003); Kitchen Heaven (2004); Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy (2005); Gordon Ramsay Easy All Year Round (2006); Sunday Lunch and Other Recipes from the F Word (2006); Hot Dinners (2006); Cool Sweets (2006)

Other commercial interests: Branded crockery, tableware and glassware from Royal Doulton, including a tumbler priced at £18 and a dinner set at £262. The range is being expanded to include pots and pans. Ramsay has advertised a limited-edition range of crisps for Walkers with Great British Dinners flavours. He has a contract to write for The Times and has just become a columnist for a new Channel 4 design magazine. His website says that he acts as a consultant for Singapore Airlines, Booker Cash & Carry and the catering business Aramark.

Personal interests: Long-distance running (he has done the London Marathon seven times), scuba diving, salmon fishing, and fast cars - he owns a Ferrari F430.

Accolades: He has the most Michelin stars in Britain (seven).

Finances: Ramsay is well and truly "going global". He is expanding in the US at breakneck speed and may open in Amsterdam, Prague and Ireland. In Britain, he believes his nine restaurants have saturated the capital and is planning a chain of foodie inns in the country. He is in the middle of a five-year deal to host Hell's Kitchen in the US, where his rudeness has fascinated viewers. (The second series is being broadcast now; filming for a third begins next year.) His US broadcasting contract is thought to be worth about £8m. He has signed a four-year "golden handcuffs" deal with Channel 4 for a reputed £9m and receives fees for programmes such as The F-Word on top of this deal.

His earnings from media work and branding and from the restaurants are fed into Gordon Ramsay Holdings, in which he holds a 69 per cent stake and his father-in-law and business manager Chris Hutcheson a 29 per cent stake. The last available accounts for the year to August 2004 show turnover of £30m - steeply up from £21m the previous year. Profit after tax was £2.7m, against a £1m loss last time. Directors' fees were £512,000. The most up-to-date accounts, expected to be filed within the next three months, will show that pre-tax profits have doubled from £3.8m to almost £8m. Takings from the US business in the first 10 years are projected to be £300m.

2. JAMIE OLIVER, 31

Worth: £58m

Profile: Growing up in his parents' pub, The Cricketers in Clavering, Essex, the future television star was drawn to the noisy hub of the kitchen. By the age of eight, he was peeling potatoes; by his early teens, he was doing the dinners. He left school at 16 ("I didn't really have the results to stay on" - though he did show a keen head for business by earning £30 a week selling sweets to his fellow pupils), went to catering college and then worked for Antonio Carluccio and later Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers at the River Café. There, he was spotted by Pat Llewelyn, the producer behind Two Fat Ladies, and landed his own BBC TV show, The Naked Chef, where his chirpy style and simple recipes attracted a new type of viewer.

After a few years, he began to suffer a public backlash for his perceived mockney accent and cheeky-chappie demeanour. He launched the Fifteen restaurant in east London and filmed the battle to train its staff of unemployed teens. He then campaigned on school dinners, exposing their nutritional poverty and putting the issue on the political agenda. The outcry prompted the Government to increase funding by £280m.

Restaurants: Fifteen, east London; Fifteen Cornwall, near Newquay

TV shows: The Naked Chef (1999); Return of the Naked Chef (2000); The Naked Chef Takes Off (2001); Happy Days With the Naked Chef (2002); Jamie's Kitchen (2003); Jamie's School Dinners (2004); Jamie's Great Italian Escape (2005)

Books: The Naked Chef (1999); The Return of the Naked Chef (2000); The Naked Chef Takes Off (2001); Happy Days With the Naked Chef (2002); Jamie's Kitchen (2003); Jamie's Dinners (2004); Jamie's Italy (2005); Nora's Dinners (2006)

Other commercial interests: Oliver's work away from broadcasting is extensive. For six years he has endorsed Sainsbury's, appearing in television adverts and promoting products. He has launched an Italian food range of artichokes, anchovies, capers, pesto, pasta sauces and infused olive oils. Tefal sells a range of Jamie Oliver pans in the UK and North America. Royal Worcester has a 49-piece range of Jamie Oliver china and a range of 12 Cheeky Mugs with slogans such as "Party Animal", both of which sell "like hot cakes", the chinaware maker says. Oliver invented and sells the Flavour Shaker, a modern version of the pestle and mortar, which crushes herbs and spices. He is a co-owner of the artisan bakery Flour Station. He has business interests in New Zealand, where he promotes a brand of budget food, and in Australia, where he has endorsed Yalumba wines. He owns a house in Primrose Hill, London, and a Grade II-listed Jacobean mansion in Essex with a swimming pool and boating lake.

Personal interests: Rides a moped and drives a top-of-the-range Range Rover.

Accolades: Channel 4 News Most Inspiring Political Figure 2006 (for school dinner campaign); National TV Awards 2005 Most Popular Factual Programme (Jamie's School Dinners)

Finances: His Sainsbury's deal alone is estimated to be worth £1m a year. His books are global bestsellers and have been translated into 21 languages. His shows - which are now made by his own production company, Fresh One - are shown in more than 40 countries. He is a director of 18 private companies in the UK, including Fresh Partners, which assists "personality-led businesses". He and his wife Jools wholly own Sweet As Candy (Holdings), which receives income from Oliver's books, TV and cookware. After dividends of £1.4m, profits hit £7.1m in 2004 - up from £453,000 in 2003. Further large profit rises can be expected in 2005 and 2006.

3. RICK STEIN, 59

Worth: £36m

Profile: A charmer who built a seafood empire in the Cornish port of Padstow and taught the British to enjoy eating fish. Born in Oxfordshire, he was educated at Uppingham public school and New College, Oxford, where he read English. After taking over a nightclub in Padstow, opened a seafood restaurant there. His empire, managed jointly with his estranged wife, Jill, now comprises the £115-a-head Seafood Restaurant, a 33-bed hotel, cookery school, bistro, café, fish and chip shop and patisserie. Stein has become one of the BBC's biggest stars, travelling the UK and France seeking out regional food and small local producers. Such is his success in Cornwall that Padstow is now nicknamed "Padstein". Some locals resent the way he has made the port posh; others welcome the jobs.

Restaurants: The Seafood Restaurant; St Petroc's Bistro; Rick Stein's Café; Stein's Fish and Chips - all in Padstow.

Books: English Seafood Cookery (1988); Taste of the Sea (1995); Rick Stein Fish (1996); Fruits of the Sea (1997); Rick Stein's Seafood Odyssey (1999); Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers' Guide (2000); Rick Stein's Seafood (2001); My Favourite Seafood Recipes (2002); Rick Stein's Food Heroes (2002); Rick Stein's Guide to the Food Heroes of Britain (2003); Rick Stein's Food Heroes, Another Helping (2004); Rick Stein's French Odyssey (2005)

TV: Taste of the Sea (1995); Fruits of the Sea (1997); Rick Stein's Seafood Odyssey (1999); Fresh Food (1999); Personal Passions (1999); Food & Drink (1999); Rick Stein's Seafood Lover's Guide (2000); Friends for Dinner (2000); Rick Stein on Fishing (2001); Rick Stein's Food Heroes (2002); Rick Stein's Food Heroes, Another Helping (2003); Rick Stein's French Odyssey (2005)

Other commercial interests: Stein runs a website selling his range of cookware and fresh produce ranging from "fish" teapots to the £26 Rick Stein Champagne and Truffles Box. He hosts corporate events, flying executives to Cornwall for lunch. He has a 14 per cent shareholding in a London business run by his former chef Sam Harrison, Sam's Brasserie and Bar in Chiswick. He has interests in Australia, where his company The Seafood Restaurant (Padstow) has a 1 per cent holding in Tower Lodge winery and resort. He is involved in a cake company, Palm Beach Cupcakes, run by his partner, the publicist Sarah Burns, in New South Wales.

Personal interests: His Jack Russell terrier, Chalky (now 17)

Accolades: Stein's TV shows have won awards and, although the Seafood Restaurant has no Michelin stars, it is acclaimed.

Finances: The BBC does not discuss the value of individual contracts, but Stein's probably runs into millions. Money from the Padstow empire and media work is funnelled through The Seafood Restaurant (Padstow), which, according to the latest accounts, employs 293 people. Shares are spread between Stein, his wife and their three children. In the year to April 2005, gross profit rose by 10 per cent, from £2.5m to £2.8m. Dividends and directors' fees totalling £1.5m were paid to the Steins.

4. DELIA SMITH, 65

Worth: £25m

Profile: Smith, the television presenter and author who acquainted the nation with good cooking, left school in Surrey at 16 with no qualifications and started life as a trainee hairdresser. After writing a cookery column for the Daily Mirror in 1969, she wrote her first book, How To Cheat At Cooking, two years later.

Her first TV show, Family Fare, was broadcast in 1973; it was the first of a series of ratings successes. Her cookery shows have been so popular that she created "the Delia effect", where sales of any product she recommended soared. She dispelled her slightly mumsy image with an attack on other celebrity chefs, describing Antony Worrall Thompson as "dreadful and repulsive". "I am not some prim, Brownie pack leader - in fact, I am a bit of a bitch," she told an interviewer. These days, she is more interested in football than cookery.

Restaurants: Delia's Restaurant and Bar, Norwich City Football Club

TV shows: Family Fare (1973-75); Delia Smith's Cookery Course (first shown and published in three parts between 1978 and 1980); One is Fun! (1985); Christmas (1990); Delia Smith's Summer Collection (1993); Delia Smith's Christmas (1994); Delia Smith's Winter Collection (1995); Cookery Course; Delia Smith's How To Cook: Part One (1999); Delia Smith's How To Cook: Part Two (2000); Delia's How To Cook: Part Three (2001)

Books: How To Cheat at Cooking (1971); Country Fare (1973); Recipes From Country Inns and Restaurants (1973); The Evening Standard Cookbook (1974); Frugal Food (1976); Book of Cakes (1977); Food For Our Times (1977); Cookery Course (three volumes: 1978, 1979 and 1980); A Feast for Advent (1983); A Feast for Lent (1983); One Is Fun (1985); Delia Smith's Christmas (1990); Delia Smith's Summer Collection (1993); Delia Smith's Winter Collection (1995); Delia's How To Cook: Book One (1998); Delia's How To Cook: Book Two (1999); Delia's How To Cook: Book Three (2001); Complete Cookery Course (Illustrated); Delia's Vegetarian Collection (2002); Delia's Kitchen Garden (2004); The Delia Collection (eight books published between 2003 and 2006: Chicken; Soup; Chocolate; Fish; Italian; Pork; Baking; Puddings)

Other commercial interests: Smith does not have her own range of cookware, but she does sell or promote a vast array of food and food products through the website deliaonline.com. For example, she has a deal with the country's largest wine merchant, Laithwaites, to sell wine and has similar commercial arrangements to sell meat, fish, chocolate, hampers and gifts.

In addition, she has links with Lakeland, Magimix and the Norfolk specialist Head Cook and Bottlewasher, promoting everything from jam-making kits to meat thermometers. She also promotes the Crocus horticultural website and the courses at Leiths cookery school. Her website hosts advertising from BP and Marks & Spencer. She and her husband, Michael Wynn-Jones, have a controlling 57 per cent stake in Norwich City.

Personal interests: Football looms large. Asked her first love, she says: "I've been 30 years cooking on television and I still like communicating cookery to people, but I am passionate about football..."

Accolades: OBE, 1994

Finances: Under Delia's and her husband's careful stewardship, the Canaries have fluctuated on the pitch. Off the pitch, the club has been transformed from near-collapse, following the ITV Digital débâcle in 2002, to handsome profit. Its profits have grown 122 per cent over the past three years, rising to £9m in 2004/05 - admittedly when the Championship club was in the Premiership. She and her husband are understood to have loaned the club between £8m and £9m. Football clubs are hard to value but, considering it has several bankable players such as Robert Earnshaw, its Carrow Road ground (which is being developed) and its recent profitability, Norwich could reasonably be valued at £22m. That would put her share at £13m, plus the balance of the loans.

Her books have sold more than 16 million copies worldwide. Royalties are likely to be paid into another financial vehicle, possibly a partnership, not available for public scrutiny. Because of the limited information available, she may be worth far more than our estimate. In a newspaper interview in 2003, she dismissed claims that she was worth £24m as rubbish.

5. ANTONY WORRALL THOMPSON, 55

Worth: £21m

Profile: Born in Stratford-upon-Avon but attended public school at Canterbury, which led to Westminster Catering College. By then Worrall Thompson had already demonstrated his indefatigable nature - by swimming the Channel aged 16, the same year that his face was disfigured in a rugby accident. After working in London, he opened what would become a favourite of Princess Diana's, Ménage à Trois in Knightsbridge, which served only starters and puddings. He has had a long TV career, appearing on the BBC2 staple Food and Drink and, more recently, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and Saturday Cooks! He has a growing restaurant empire, centring on Notting Grill which serves meaty British food, and a range of branded AWT food and kitchen products.

Restaurants: Barnes Grill; Kew Grill Restaurant; Notting Grill (all in London); The Angel Coaching Inn and Grill, Wiltshire; The Greyhound Freehouse and Grill, Oxfordshire.

TV shows: 10, including Ready Steady Cook (1994); So You Think You Can Cook (1997); Food & Drink (1998); Simply Antony (1998); Worrall Thompson Cooks (1999); Antony's Scotland (2000); Master Servant; Antony's Morocco (2001); Saturday Kitchen (2003-2006); Saturday Cooks! (2006)

Books: The Small and Beautiful Cookbook (1984); Elegant Chef's Guide to Hors D'Oeurves and Appetizers (1985); Small and Beautiful Cook Book, Secrets of the Ménage à Trois Restaurant (1985); Modern Bistro Cookery (1994); 30-Minute menus (1995); Ready Steady Cook No 1 (1996); Quisine (1997); Simply Antony (1998); The ABC of AWT (1998); Eating for Energy (1999); The Top 100 Recipes from 'Food and Drink' (2002); AWT's GL Diet Made Simple; Real Family Food; AWT Healthy Eating for Diabetes (2003); Raw: The Autobiography (2003); At Home With... (2004); Saturday Kitchen Cookbook (2004); Antony Worrall Thompson's Top 100 Beef Recipes (2005); Antony Worrall Thompson's GI Diet (2005); How to Cook and Buy Real Meat (2005)

Other commercial interests: Probably has more revenue streams than any other chef. Fans can join the AWT Club on his website for £5, granting access to his recipes, "insight" into his diary and video clips of his life. His AWT products include everything from aprons to storage jars. For £199 fans can buy the "AWT Experience" where the chef introduces some of his recipes and cooks food from around the world at his Notting Grill restaurant. He sells a healthy eating pack, just4weeks, for £24.98. He does outside catering at motor and home shows and polo events, writes for the Sunday Express and can be hired for corporate events.

Personal interests: Organic farming - grows salad and vegetables and keeps rare-breed pigs. Art, antiques, tennis and swimming.

Accolades: Meilleur Ouvrier de Grande Bretagne in 1987

Finances: Worrall Thompson's growing business empire is debt-free and pulling in the pounds. Notting Grill is owned by Chakalaka Limited, whose last accounts for the year to March 2005 reveal a profit of £108,000 while Kew Grill Limited made £109,000; Worrall Thompson says his restaurants are on course to make £800,000 this year. His private partnership with his wife, Organic Partnership, which receives royalties from TV, writing, personal appearances and other commercial work will make £1.2m profit this year. His Henley on Thames home is worth £1.6m. He owns a Spanish farm worth £1m, and has several other properties, with staff, across the Continent.

6. MARCO PIERRE WHITE, 45

Worth: £10m

Profile: The original celebrity chef. After arriving in London aged 16, the Leeds-born Yorkshireman raised on a council estate worked under Albert Roux and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, before opening Harvey's in Wandsworth (the acclaimed Chez Bruce now stands on the site). White became known for his food and his temper, and trained the young Gordon Ramsay. He now runs nine restaurants in the capital (four with the jockey Frankie Dettori) and three country inns.

Restaurants: Quo Vadis; Mirabelle; L'Escargot; Drones; Belvedere; Frankie's at Criterion, plus three other Frankie's (Knightsbridge, Chiswick and Putney); Highwayman Inn, Oxon; Yew Tree, Berks; The Talkhouse, Oxon

TV shows: None

Books: White Heat (1990); Wild Food from Land and Sea (1994); Canteen Cuisine (1995); The Mirabelle Cookbook (1999); The Star Chef's Cookbook (2002); White Slave (2006)

Other commercial interests: White endorses Beka cookware, which sells at Selfridges and Harrods for between £50 and £250 a piece.

Personal interests: Fishing, deer stalking

Accolades: First British-born chef and youngest in the world to be awarded three Michelin stars.

Finances: In an interview with The Observer last year, White insisted that, despite running restaurants, he did not own anything. However, Companies House shows that he is a director of five businesses - Ota Resources, Sellican, Marco Pierre White Catering, Dettori International and Baker's Dozen. He has a 50 per cent stake in the "general commercial company" Sellican, which has assets of £1.8m, and a 40 per cent stake in Ota Resources, which has assets of £1.6m and made a profit of £2.6m in the year to March 2004. He also has a 23 per cent stake in MPW Catering, which has not yet filed accounts. Last year, Baker's Dozen made a profit of £120,000. White has a house in Holland Park, London.

7. GARY RHODES, 46

Worth: £8m

Profile: Born in south London but brought up in Gillingham, Kent, Rhodes rose up to become head chef at the Castle Hotel in Somerset, and retained its Michelin star. In 1990, he was made head chef at the Greenhouse Restaurant in Mayfair, where he established a reputation for British classics like faggots and bread-and-butter pudding. One of the first "celebrity chefs", he appeared in his first solo TV show, Rhodes Around Britain in 1994, becoming almost as famous for his hair as his recipes. He has opened many restaurants aimed at the lucrative City market in London, and is expanding abroad. Last month he opened RhodesD7 in Dublin.

Restaurants: Rhodes Brasserie W1, London; Rhodes Twenty Four, London; Rhodes Restaurant, Grenada, West Indies; RhodesD7; Arcadian Rhodes on a P&O Arcadia cruise liner.

TV shows: 14, including Hot Chefs (1988); Rhodes Around Britain (1994); More Rhodes Around Britain (1995); Complete Cookery Year (2003).

Books: 19, including Rhodes Around Britain (1994); Food With Friends (2002); Keeping It Simple by Gary Rhodes (2005)

Other commercial interests: Rhodes has a range of branded knives and cookware, and is a part owner in the catering business Rhokett, which supplies frozen and chilled desserts to Marks and Spencer and Pret a Manger. He is also a shareholder in toptable, "Europe's largest restaurant booker", and is a spokesman for Tate & Lyle, for whom he supplies recipes. He does ad hoc publicity for food companies, such as putting two Marmite ice-cream toppings on one of his menus.

Personal interests: Manchester United, F1.

Accolades: Two former restaurants, Rhodes City and Rhodes in the Square, which closed in 2003, each won one Michelin star. Rhodes Twenty Four also has a star.

Finances: His company, Gary Rhodes Ltd, does not publicly declare profit but had cash reserves of £1.4m in the year to July 2005. His catering company, Rhokett, is growing by between 30 and 50 per cent with sales expected to hit £2.3m this financial year. Home is at Orpington in the Kent stockbroker belt.

8. RAYMOND BLANC, 56

Worth: £7m

Profile: At the age of 21, Blanc decided to become a chef in his native France and got a job at a local restaurant. As he learnt, he criticised the head chef's cooking and had a pan thrown at him, breaking his nose and jaw. While recovering, he heard about a job at the Rose Revived in Newbridge, Oxford and decided to move to the UK in 1972. He opened his first restaurant, Les Quat' Saisons, in Oxford, aged 28. In 1984, he moved to a 15th-century manor house at Great Milton, where he opened the restaurant that would make his name, Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. Ingredients are sourced from its own market garden. In 1996, Blanc opened the first Le Petit Blanc brasserie.

He has been an outspoken critic of some modern chefs. In one attack, he said: "Today, we need to bring respect to our industry. We are not helped in this respect by certain programmes on television, which do us a great disservice. The on-screen impression of what happens inside a restaurant is a disaster for us."

Restaurants: Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Great Milton; five Le Petit Blanc branches

TV shows: Food and Drink (1987); Blanc Mange (1994); Friends for Dinner (2000); Passion for Perfection (2002)

Books: Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons (1989); Routiers Cookbook (1990); Le Manoir (1990); Cooking in Ten Minutes: Or the adaptation of cooking to the rhythm of our time (1993); Cooking for Friends (1993); Blanc Mange (1994); Chef's Secrets: Mastering the art of good food (1996); A Blanc Christmas (1996); Blanc Vite: Fast fresh food from Raymond Blanc (1998); Foolproof French Cooking: Step by step to everyone's favourite French recipes (1998); Simple French Cookery (2005)

Accolades: Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons has had two Michelin stars for 21 years.

Other commercial interests: As well as a 100-seat restaurant, Le Manoir is a 32-room hotel; rooms cost from £380 to £1,275 a night. Blanc hosts weddings and wine tastings and arranges corporate cooking classes. He also runs a cookery school, L'Ecole de Cuisine, with sessions for children. Le Manoir sells gifts including £12 carpet boules and a £35 chef's jacket. The Blanc Maison patisserie and boulangerie chain is now owned by Blanc's ex-wife as part of a divorce settlement.

Personal interests: Tennis, riding, classical and rock music

Finances: Blanc is a wealthy man. He expanded the hotel at Le Manoir in 1992 with the backing of Virgin, which took a majority stake. In 2002, Virgin sold the stake and a 50 per cent holding in Le Petit Blanc brasseries for £27m to Orient Express Hotels. Le Petit Blanc later went into administration, to be bought by the Loch Fyne seafood chain, which has partially restored its fortunes; Blanc retains a financial interest in the business.

The main Le Manoir company, Blanc Restaurants, is owned by Le Manoir Holdings, which is owned by Le Manoir, which is owned by Bermuda-based Orient Express Holdings. In the last accounts, for 2004, Blanc Restaurants had sales of nearly £10m and pre-tax profit of £1.3m. Directors received £385,000 in fees. The company has fixed assets of £9.7m and reserves of £7m; it owes almost nothing. In 2005, Blanc Brasseries, operator of the Le Petit Blanc chain, made a small loss on sales of £5.7m.

9. NIGELLA LAWSON, 46

Worth: £3m

Profile: The daughter of Nigel Lawson (Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher) and sister of Dominic Lawson (former editor of The Sunday Telegraph) was always likely to do well. But Lawson has arguably eclipsed the rest of her family, at least in terms of fame. After public school she went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and graduated in medieval and modern languages. She joined The Sunday Times as a journalist and married the late columnist and broadcaster John Diamond. After writing about food for The Spectator and Vogue, her book, How To Eat: The Pleasure and Principles of Good Food, was published in 1999. There followed a string of books, focusing on wholesome food. Her TV shows for Channel 4 were a ratings success, despite criticism that her looks distracted viewers from the recipes. Her ITV chat show Nigella has not been recommissioned.

Restaurants: None

TV shows: Nigella Bites (2000); Nigella Bites (2001); Forever Summer (2002); Nigella (2005)

Books: How to Eat (1998); How to be a Domestic Goddess (2000); Nigella Bites (2001); Forever Summer (2002); Feast (2004)

Other commercial interests: Her kitchenware range, Living Kitchens.

Personal interests: She lives in Eaton Square, London, with her second husband, the art collector Charles Saatchi.

Accolades: British Book Awards Author of the Year (2000).

Finances: Her TV work at home and abroad has resulted in substantial fees, particularly in the US, where she has been commissioned to do a series for the Food Network. Worldwide sales of her books have topped 1.5 million. Her kitchenware products are sold in 15 countries. Information at Companies House is limited. One of her companies, Pabulum Productions, has funds of £282,000. Accounts are due for another, Pabulum Media. Our valuation is based on her TV work, book sales and homeware - which seems to be selling well.

10. HESTON BLUMENTHAL, 40

Worth: £2m

Profile: Pioneer of scientific approach to cooking, often described as "molecular gastronomy", whose unusual dishes include egg and bacon ice cream and snail porridge. One of Britain's four chefs with three Michelin stars, Blumenthal is self-trained and was inspired after sampling stunning food at a restaurant in France during a family holiday. He started investigating the science of food and visiting fishmongers and butchers. He bought an old pub in Bray, Berkshire, called The Bell and renamed it - The Fat Duck opened in 1995. Works with scientists to develop new techniques and dishes.

Restaurants: The Fat Duck. He co-owns The Hinds Head pub, also in Bray.

TV shows: Kitchen Chemistry (2001); new BBC series Perfection will be shown later this year.

Books: Family Food: A New Approach to Cooking (2002); Formulas for Flavour: How to Cook Restaurant Dishes st Home (2004); In Search of Perfection (October 2006)

Other commercial interests: None.

Other interests: Kickboxing

Accolades: The Fat Duck was voted best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine in 2005.

Finances: Blumenthal has made a culinary success of The Fat Duck but the restaurant has just 14 tables. Even at £400 for a meal for two it is not a big money-spinner - its latest accounts show a pre-tax loss of £103,000 on sales of £524,000, although this was after the building of a development kitchen and other one-off costs. With the rising reputation of The Fat Duck and the forthcoming BBC series, Blumenthal's profile will rise. With a hefty BBC fee and book sales, he is well positioned to capitalise on his culinary standing.

The bottom line

This list seeks to put a figure on the chefs' personal business wealth. Valuations are derived from estimates of current and future royalties from books, TV series, property and restaurants. In most cases we have not taken into account the earnings that have accrued during the chefs' careers and are retained as savings or investments. Businesses are valued at eight times annual pre-tax profits for intellectual property (media work, branded cookware etc) and at 10 times annual pre-tax profits for restaurants, except Gordon Ramsay's. Many restaurant operators - such as Gondola Holdings, the owner of Pizza Express - trade on far higher ratings. Dresdner Kleinwort investment bank says the current average for listed restaurants is 17 times earnings after tax, equating to 12 times pre-tax earnings. We have given the restaurant portion of Gordon Ramsay Holdings a higher valuation - 15 times pre-tax earnings - to reflect the company's extraordinary expansion (turnover is projected to rise from £30m in 2003/04 to £100m in 2006/07). However, we do not take into account capital gains tax levied on the sale of a business, although this can often be greatly reduced - in some cases to nothing. Chefs are valued on the basis of the wealth owned by themselves and their spouses, in whose name assets are sometimes held, except in the case of Nigella Lawson, whose husband, Charles Saatchi, has a much larger independent fortune. Norwich City FC is valued in line with recent sales of shareholdings in football clubs. Some of the chefs involved have provided information for this survey, others have not. We have erred on the side of caution on the basis of known financial information; some chefs, especially those with considerable past earnings, may be much richer than stated here.

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