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Aug '08

Celebrities in the Kitchen: Famous People Who Have Been Chefs or Cooks

Here’s a list of famous actors, artists, film directors, and other celebrities who have been either been chefs or cooks or are passionate about cooking. Quite a few of the names will surprise you.

Celebrities Who’ve Worked Professionally as Chefs or Cooks

Mr. FrenchSebastian Cabot: Actor
Played Mr. French on the TV series, Family Affair

“After leaving school at age 14 he never had another day of formal education, and later worked as a chef - which helped precipitate his growth to 260 pounds. He also spent three years as a professional wrestler in London before World War II, an activity ended by an injury.” (Source: His IMDB Page)

Daniel CraigDaniel Craig: Actor
The current James Bond. Star of the movies Infamous, Sylvia, and Layer Cake.

He used to work as a chef in a pub before he hit the big screen.

As Daniel Craig says:

“I love to cook. But because I used to work in the hostelry industry, I can’t cook for a few, because I’m used to cooking for 20 or more at a time. So there are always a lot of leftovers. Cooking is something that is in your blood. Even now, when I go into a working kitchen, a shiver runs down my spine.” (Source: Waleg.Com / Hello Magazine)

Danny Kaye: Actor, ComedianDanny Kaye
Starred in The Court Jester and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

“Danny had been long known for his expertise as a Chinese chef, picking up recipes and gourmet knowledge in his 20s when traveling the Orient. One story indicates that the Greek shipping magnate, Stavros Niarchos, after sampling Danny’s cooking, offered him a job as his personal chef. Unfortunately (or fortunately) Danny had just been offered a starring role in the musical “Two by Two”, said no. Danny’s specialty was Chinese and Italian cuisine, but he gained most recognition for his rendering of many classic Chinese dishes like Roast Duck with Orange Sauce, Lion’s Head, Chinese Stir-Fry Oysters with Shrimp, Chinese Poached Chicken, and Chinese Chicken Salad. The poached chicken was a favorite of PBS chef and author, Jacques Pepin, who still uses the recipe, and is still impressed by how moist the chicken is. Pepin believed that Danny’s skill in the kitchen was on par with any professional chef. French chefs Paul Bocuse and Roger Verger have claimed that the best restaurant in California was Danny Kaye’s house…

As recounted in her book, Comfort Me with Apples, Ruth Reichl remembers dining at his home once and enjoying an extraordinary meal prepared using hand-made cleavers and giant woks. The supper included a clear soup flavored with lemongrass, slices of fresh liver with onions, (’like little pillows of velvet between satin slivers of onion, and so sweet it was as if it had been dusted with sugar.’) home-made noodles in a lemon cream sauce, followed by a ‘high, light, rich and eggy’ lemon souffle. The period, or exclamation point to the meal was a rich espresso.” (Source: DannyKaye.Org)

Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne: Theater Actors
Also ran the Stage Door Canteen in NY to benefit WWII servicemen

“In real life the famed theatrical pair worked tirelessly in the New York canteen. Lunt was considered ‘the chief cook and bottle washer of the American Theatre Wing,’ according to critic Alexander Woollcott, and was so often the emptier of the garbage cans that actress Katharine Cornell declared him to be ‘the only man who succeeded in putting glamour into garbage.’

Alfred Lunt was an excellent gourmet cook who not only procured food from area restaurants and stores for the soldiers, but gave cooking classes (six lessons for $10) for aspiring canteen workers.” (Source: Port Halcyon.Com)

Matthew Modine: Actor
Star of Birdy, Vision Quest, and Short Cuts

“After high school, Modine dropped out of BYU and worked several odd jobs before moving to New York in 1979. He landed a job as a chef at Au Natural in Manhattan, where he met his wife, Cari.” (Source: His IMDB Page)

Dominic Monaghan: Actor
Starred in The Lord of the Ring Trilogy

Worked as a saute chef at a place called Quincey’s in Didsbury, Manchester. (Source: His IMDB Page)

Michael Pare, Actor
Star of Eddie and the Cruisers

Studied at the Culinary Institute of America and was working as a chef when he was discovered. (Source: His IMDB Page)

Julian Schnabel: Modern Artist, Film Director
Directed Basquiat, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Before he was famous, Schnabel worked as a short-order cook.

Celebrities Who Are Passionate About Cooking
or Who Wanted to Cook Professionally

Josh Brolin: Actor
Star of No Country for Old Men.

Once aspired to be a chef. (Source: His IMDB Page)

Pat Conroy: Author
Author of The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, and The Water is Wide.

Also wrote the excellent cookbook, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life.

Tobey Maguire: Actor
Star of the Spiderman movies, Wonder Boys, and The Cider House Rules

Originally wanted to be a chef, but he turned to acting after his mother offered him $100 to take drama rather than home economics in high school. (Source: His IMDB Page)

Vincent Price: Actor, Cookbook Author
Star of The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, Edward Scissorhands

Avid gourmet cook. Co-authored the cookbook, Mary and Vincent Price’s Come Into the Kitchen Cook Book: a Collector’s Treasury of America’s Great Recipes. (Source: Slate)

Vincent Schiavelli: Actor, Cookbook Author
Appeared in Batman Returns, Amadeus, and People Vs. Larry Flynt

Authored the books, Bruculinu, America: Remembrance of Sicilian-American Brooklyn, Told in Stories & Recipes, Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa, and Papa Andrea’s Sicilian Table: Recipes from a Sicilian Chef as Remembered by His Grandson. (Source: His IMDB Page)

James Spader: Actor
Star of Sex, Lies, and Videotape and Secretary

Loves cooking and is an excellent chef. (Source: His IMDB Page)

Christopher Walken: Actor
Star of Brainstorm, Pulp Fiction, and Catch Me If You Can

Is a very skilled chef. (Source: His IMDB Page)

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