Is the celebrity chef a thing of the past?

From the late 1990s into the 2010s, celebrity chefs were riding high. They were opening restaurants left and right, with Hollywood stars in attendance during opening night. Emeril Lagasse even had his own sitcom (albeit a short-lived one). Today, however, the winds seem to be shifting. The much-hyped restaurants are closing, prompting speculation about the decline of the celebrity chef.

celebrity chefs

Amidst a spate of high-profile restaurant closings, it seems that the stars of the culinary world are not shining as bright as they once were. The reasons for this trend are varied: rising rents, overexpansion, and changing tastes toward simpler, more "authentic" foods all contribute to this phenomenon. 

In addition to these factors, the #MeToo movement has also played a role. Chefs like Mario Batali and John Besh have relinquished control of their empires because of allegations of sexual harassment. 

Times are tough all over, with Jamie Oliver closing 12 of his 37 locations in the UK (although he has plans to expand elsewhere), and even stalwart locations such as Las Vegas seeing the effects of this trend. Celebrity restaurants in Vegas used to litter the Strip, but several have closed in recent years. 

So what is taking the place of these (usually) high-priced locations? Food halls, food trucks, and other lower-cost, simpler eateries are filling the gap. These types of locations are not as dependent on a big name to draw a crowd, and they satisfy the needs of a food audience that is ever-evolving. 

3 Comments

  • sir_ken_g  on  8/11/2018 at 10:11 AM

    I avoid such places like the plague. I did - reluctantly - eat at a Jamie Oliver place in Covent Gardens, London - and it was good.

  • angrygreycat  on  8/11/2018 at 4:27 PM

    I believe, at least in America, these type of restaurants are in decline due to the decline in the middle class. People with less money tend to eat at fast food, food trucks, bodegas, corner store type places. People with tons of money tend to go to fine dining establishments or local hot spots (not chains), or have personal chefs and eat at home a lot. People in the middle eat at more of the chain type and/or celebrity restaurants. I did eat at one of Emeril's restaurants in New Orleans and the food and the service were both excellent. It was the best food I had in New Orleans. I have also eaten at Bobby Flay's Burger Palace locally and it is pretty good burger place about on par with 5 Guys.

  • annmartina  on  8/14/2018 at 8:48 AM

    I usually viewed the celebrity name as a gimmick to draw people in. Do people actually think Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, etc are back in the kitchen cooking their meal? I've been to New Orleans many times but have never eaten at one of Emeril's restaurants for the reason that there's a celebrity chef name attached to it. However, his restaurants have excellent reputations for food and service. Ditto with Paul Prudhomme's K-Paul Kitchen.

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