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Once relegated to early mornings and PBS, television cooking show hosts have exploded across the airwaves. Not only do TV show hosts appear on air, they also own restaurants, publish books, sell cooking gear, and even have their own magazines. Although the average salary of a famous television cooking show host can sometimes reach into the millions, there are also show hosts just getting their foot in the door who still work from paycheck to paycheck.
Highest Salaried Chef
"Forbes" magazine reported that the highest earning TV chef in 2012 was Gordon Ramsay. This celebrity chef not only has a string of restaurants across London, but also is or has been the host of a number of popular TV shows, such as "Hell's Kitchen," "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Hotel Hell." Ramsay is planning to expand his empire to the other side of the Atlantic, by opening restaurants in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Between his food, TV and media empire, Gordon Ramsay pulled in $38 million in 2012.
Other Top Earners
Rachel Ray doesn't own a restaurant but she made $25 million in 2012 through her daytime talk show, a series of books, and her own magazine. Not far behind her is Wolfgang Puck, who pulled in $20 million for 2012. Puck first rose to fame in the 1980s with his version of gourmet pizza. From there he went into formal and casual restaurants, and began marketing his signature food line in grocery stores across the country. Southern cook Paula Deen pulled in a $17 million for 2012 through her cooking show, restaurant partnerships with Harrah's, magazine and books, as well as her partnerships with Wal-Mart and the Smithfield meat packing company.
TV Cooking Hosts
Although the top earning salaries for a successful TV cooking show host might sound tempting, remember that these are the top salaries. There are also a number of TV cooking show hosts on local TV stations still working their way up the ladder. According to the website indeed.com, the average salary of a TV cooking show host was $82,000, as of December 2013, which is in line with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.
Where the Salary Comes From
Most of the top earning chefs do more than just cook to earn their money. Profit margins on restaurants, even in the best locations, can be marginal at best. For example, For example, in a 2010 survey by the The National Restaurant Association, restaurant pretax profits averaged between 2 and 6 percent. In order to prosper and increase their salaries, TV show cooking hosts make their money through syndicated television programs, books, magazines and partnership deals.
Nathan McGinty started writing in 1995. He has a Bachelor of Science in communications from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in international journalism from City University, London. He has worked in the technology industry for more than 20 years, in positions ranging from tech support to marketing.