Joël Robuchon – 31 stars
Joël Robuchon, widely known as the ‘Chef of the Century,’ is currently decorated with 28 stars. This French chef is known as the pioneer of the post- nouvelle cuisine era, and his relentless perfectionism has translated into a more authentic, timeless French cuisine. Owner of 12 restaurants across the globe, Robuchon is also the former mentor of another talented chef on this list—Gordon Ramsay. Like his famous mentee, he’s known for having hot temper, and both chefs have acknowledged tension between them after Robuchon hurled a plate at Ramsay and Ramsay stormed out of the kitchen.
Alain Ducasse – 18 stars
Alan Ducasse, owner of five restaurants across the world, was the first chef to ever earn six Michelin stars. Since setting that record in 1998, Ducasse has accumulated a total of 18 Michelin Stars. This Monégasque chef, who is originally from France, is known for his perfectionism not only the kitchen, but in every minute detail of the restaurants he owns. Spoons, butter dishes, tablecloths, font on the menu – even curtain rods won’t escape the man’s scrupulousness. In addition to being known for world-class French cuisine, Ducasse is the only chef on this list who has sent his food into space. In 2015, Ducasse sent meals to astronauts orbiting earth aboard the International Space Station, an accomplishment that Ducasse said he viewed as conquering ‘ the final frontier (of cooking)’.
Martin Berasategui – 7 Stars
Martin Berasategui is currently decorated with seven stars, more than any other Spanish chef. This exceptional Basque chef earned his first Michelin Star at the age of 25 and opened his first restaurant, Restaurante Martin Berasategui, in 1993. Restaurante Martin Bersategui was awarded a third Michelin Star in 2001. Since the opening of this San Sebastian eponymous restaurant, Berasategui opened three other Michelin-starred restaurants in Tenerife and Barcelona.
Thomas Keller – 7 stars
The Michelin guide might not be the ultimate honour amongst chefs in the United States, but Thomas Keller has gone about setting a fine example—he’s the only American chef to hold all six out of his total seven stars simultaneously.
Keller’s three-star establishment French Laundry, one of his five restaurants, celebrated its 20-year anniversary two years ago, and was on two occasions deemed the best restaurant on the planet. Keller, a California native, is widely celebrated in America for his French-style cooking, and he has made a good name for himself in France. Don’t count on Keller expanding his culinary empire though. In 2013, he hinted at retirement, telling the Huffington Post ‘You know, I’m 57 years old and I can’t stay in the kitchen forever.’
Yoshihiro Murata – 7 stars
With four restaurants across the world and seven Michelin stars, this Japanese chef prides himself on creating authentic Japanese cuisine. Murata stresses the use of local ingredients, and he finds local sources for each of his restaurants. Murata’s latest venture, a restaurant called Tokimeite, is located in the upscale London neighbourhood of Mayfair, and it sources salmon from Scotland. Murata’s expansion of his culinary empire into Europe is not the only sign of his global success though. Heston Blumenthal, another Michelin-starred chef on this list, studied under Murata in Japan when he was 30 years old, and the British chef considers Murata to be an influence on his cooking style.
Gordon Ramsay – 6 stars
Known for his volatile kitchen demeanor and exceptional British cuisine, Gordon Ramsay has made his way onto television screens in just about every part of the English-speaking world. This Scottish born chef, whose name is attached to 17 restaurants globally, currently holds six Michelin stars. and his signature restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London, has held three stars since 2001.
Like his famous mentor Joël Robuchon, Ramsay has a short fuse that, perhaps, has overshadowed his culinary achievements in recent years. In 2014, Ramsay famously broke down in tears after his New York restaurant went from two star to no star status. This setback didn’t stop Ramsay from immense success though. Recently, Ramsay was tied with Beyonce as the 34th highest earning celebrity in the world.
Heston Blumenthal – 6 stars
credit: Garry Knight
Heston Blumenthal, a British born chef holding six stars, had his interest in cooking sparked on a childhood holiday in Provence, France during a meal at Michelin-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière. Although this innovative chef discovered his love for cooking at a young age, he worked a variety of jobs before settling into his calling. While working as a repo man and a credit controller, Blumenthal taught himself the art of French cooking in his free time. The turning point in Blumenthal’s career came in 1995, when he opened his restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire. In 2005, The Fat Duck was named the best restaurant in the world, and it is one of only four restaurants in the U.K. to have three Michelin Stars.
Blumenthal, like a few other chefs on this list, is fascinated with the science behind food. He is known for experimenting with food pairing, the science of identifying molecular similarities in different ingredients and combining them in a dish. Recently, Blumenthal drew media attention for a Christmas trifle he developed for the British supermarket chain Waitrose. This dish takes on a traditional favourite in a unique way—by combining bacon and banana.
Carme Ruscalleda – 6 stars
This Catalan chef holds the most Michelin stars of any woman chef in the world. Ruscalleda owns two restaurants—Sant Pau in Barcelona and Sant Pau de Tòquio in Tokyo. This skilled chef emphasises seasonal products and traditional Catalan cooking, a harkening back to her childhood on a Spanish farm. Like many chefs on this list, Ruscalleda is a perfectionist, saying upon receiving Michelin’s highest honour of three stars for her restaurant, ‘But I’ve still not reached the top.’
Anne-Sophie Pic – 5 stars
Anne-Sophie Pic is the fourth French female chef to ever earn three Michelin Stars, and The World’s Fifty Best Restaurants named her the Best Female Chef in 2011. Interestingly enough, French chef had no formal culinary training when she assumed leadership of her family’s restaurant Maison Pic after her father’s death in 1997. After earning three stars for the restaurant, Pic opened up a second restaurant, Restaurant Anne-Sophie Pic, which celebrates her family’s culinary lineage from Valence, demonstrating the inventive innovative spirit that, as the Michelin Guide itself says, “binds the history of the Pic family with that of French gastronomy.”
Seiji Yamamoto – 3 Stars
This brilliant Japanese chef famously sent an eel for a CT scan to better understand its anatomy. Besides his commitment to understanding the science of cooking, Yamamoto is known for blending the revered cooking traditions of kaiseki with modern molecular gastronomy techniques. His restaurant Ryugin, located in Tokyo, quickly became a destination for other culinary geniuses, including Joël Robuchon. Yamamoto’s love for cooking has spanned many years; as a boy he began cooking to impress his mother, and he subsequently spent 11 years training at Aoyagi, a kaiseki restaurant owned by master chef Hirohisa Koyama.
Ferran Adrià – 3 Stars
In 1980, this Spanish chef began his career in the culinary industry as a dishwasher at the Hotel Playafels, where a chef took interest in teaching him traditional Spanish cuisine. After being drafted by the army and serving as a cook, Adria began work at elBulli as a line cook. Eighteen months after starting there, he became head chef of elBulli at the age of 23. His cuisine is often associated with molecular gastronomy, although he rejects this label and instead refers to his style as “deconstructivist”. Adria is known for creating “culinary foam” without the addition of cream or egg white. These foams are made of a flavoured liquid and an additive (such as lecithin), then aerated through multiple methods such as whipping with an immersion blender or extrusion from a siphon bottle equipped with N2O cartridges.
Nadia Santini – 3 Stars
This talented Italian chef believes that quality comes from cooking for the individual, and she has said that it is impossible” to run a kitchen that serves 100 people. I can’t give my heart to a dish if I am cooking for more than 30.” Under Santini’s direction, her family’s Lombardy, Italy extended trattoria styled restaurant Dal Pescatore was awarded three Michelin Stars. Santini is the first female chef in Italy to earn three Michelin Stars, and in 2013, The World’s Fifty Best Restaurants named her The World’s Best Female Chef.
Joan Roca – 3 Stars
Joan Roca’s restaurant El Celler de Can Roca was named the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant Magazine in 2013 and 2015. Roca owns his family’s traditional Catalan restaurant with his two brothers, one who is a sommelier and the other who is a pastry chef. He embraces both traditional and modern cuisine with innovative techniques such as sous-vide, “perfume-cooking” and distillation. In 2013, The Guardian named this Spanish chef “the number one chef in the world”.
Juan Mari Arzak – 3 Stars
Arzak is considered one of the masters of New Basque cuisine. This Spanish innovator describes his cooking as “evolutionary, investigatory, and avant-garde.” Now 74 years old, Juan Mari still oversees the kitchen of Arzak, his San Sebastian restaurant, while his talented daughter Elena runs daily operations. This local and international legend’s signature dish, available at Arzak, is Pigeon with potato feathers.
Who’s your favourite? Share your thoughts in the comments and join the discussion.