Chef Julia Child became a pop-culture icon and was one of the first true celebrity chefs.
She brought French Cuisine to the American Public. Her debut cookbook was Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As a result, Julia Child’s kitchen is a historic artefact. It is on display on the ground floor of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. The kitchen is the actual kitchen used in several of her cooking shows.
Iron Chefs is a show produced by Food Network. It also carried a dubbed version of the original Iron Chef. Like the original Japanese program, the program is a culinary game show. In each episode, a new challenger chef competes against one of the resident “Iron Chefs” in a one-hour cooking competition based on a secret ingredient or ingredients.
Celebrity Chefs are treated like rock stars. Gordon Ramsay’s empire is reported to be worth $80 million. His salary per episode is $225, 000. He earns an additional $10 million per year from his media and restaurant empire. Ramsay has opened a string of successful restaurants across the globe. He also has a global partnership with WWRD (Waterford, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton) which offers quality home and lifestyle products.
Jamie Oliver is worth a whopping $243 million beating out Gordon Ramsay and Delia Smith. In 2000, Oliver became the face of the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’ through an endorsement deal worth $2 million a year. In 2005 Oliver suggested that home cooks grate nutmeg over spaghetti bolognese. This led to the supermarket sell more than 9 tons of the spice. The tie-up which lasted 11 years is over but has earned the chef over over £10 million.
The kitchen is quite a dangerous place for celebrity chefs: knives are sharp, pans are hot, floors are slippery.
There is the specific timing involved in a television show. What happens if a celebrity chef is ill or injured and therefore unable to perform? How does this affect the overall brand and the businesses that rely on their names?
The response of investors and corporate risk managers is to secure large blocks of key person life insurance. This is to protect against the untimely death of celebrity chefs. They recognise how dependent the franchises are on the brand of their celebrity chefs. Many risk managers ignore the greater risk of injury and forgo disability coverage.
Key person life and key person disability insurance should be procured. This is in order to protect the company, the employees, the shareholders and the board of directors. Production and merchandising partners need similar protection as well. This insurance is typically available through traditional life markets.
Accidents and illnesses happen. Alton Brown, a chef who is a known aviation and motorcycle enthusiast, broke his collarbone after crashing a motorcycle while filming an episode of Feasting on Asphalt for Food Network. A few years earlier, he shattered his wrist. This injury required eight screws and a titanium plate to repair. This furthermore took months of recovery and rehabilitation before he could resume filming.
Lower-profile chefs need similar protection. The Gotham Bar & Grill in New York enlisted the talent of Alfred Portale. He has brought the cuisine to a new level. Furthermore he continuously evolves the menu, dining room, service standard and art collection. Chef Portale was named Outstanding Chef in the nation in 2006. If Chef Portale suffered a serious injury or illness, there is definite potential for Gothams to be negatively affected.
Key person life and disability insurance is important. This is therefore to either reorganise and replace a fallen chef, or simply wind down a venture.
The value of ensuring that a brand or restaurant can continue to prosper if an executive chef is no longer able to perform, is big business. Cooking shows like Iron Chef, Masterchef, Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen promise to spawn new superstars that have strong brand crossover. Celebrity Chefs have ascended to a lofty perch once inhabited only by actors, athletes and rock stars and ensuring there are contingency plans in place makes good business sense