Who is the best chef in the world? If there’s ever an accolade that professional chefs dream about, then it’s the Michelin star. Getting a Michelin star is a true testament to a chef’s skill and dedication in the kitchen, and that’s why the world’s top chefs work tirelessly for years to get even just one.
Without a doubt, a Michelin star is the highest honour that can be bestowed within the international culinary industry. Some people go so far as to refer to the award system as ‘the Oscars of the culinary world’.
Chefs across the world dedicate their lives to earn even just one coveted star in recognition of their excellence. But there are those select few who have managed to collect an astounding number of stars for their fine dining restaurants.
Here’s a list of chefs who have earned the most Michelin stars. Consider it a rundown of the world’s best chefs, with only the most highly decorated and esteemed professionals to ever grace the restaurant industry.
Joël Robuchon: 31 stars
Ever wondered which chef has the most Michelin stars in the world? Well, here he is. Joël Robuchin holds the number one spot amongst the world’s top 10 chefs, making him the best chef in the world according to Michelin star ratings.
Although he passed away with only 28 stars to his name, at one point Robuchon was the proud owner of 31 Michelin stars. He has also been dubbed the Chef of the Century on numerous occasions. Joël specialised in French cuisine and owned twelve restaurants. He also liked to mentor young chefs, one of which is the now infamous Gordon Ramsay.
Today, there is a famous restaurant chain dubbed after this iconic French chef. Twelve restaurants in this chain go by the name L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. You’ll find them in some of the world’s biggest cities, including Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Montreal, Taipei, Bangkok, Tokyo, and Singapore.
Chef Robuchon was recognised for his immense creativity in designing his restaurants, which served French haute cuisine. His restaurant’s interiors deserve just as much attention as the food he put on the plates. Most tables would be arranged in an unusual fashion, allowing diners to see how the food was being prepared. The word L’Atelier, the title of his namesake restaurants, also translates to ‘workshop’. The term often refers to an artist’s workshop in the decorative or fine arts, and Joël was certainly an artist in his own right.
Alain Ducasse: 21 stars
Considered by many to be one of the world’s best chefs, Alain has built a business empire over the years with 36 restaurants spanning the globe. He’s also one of only two chefs to hold 21 Michelin stars throughout their career, and the first chef to own restaurants in three cities that each carried three Michelin stars. How’s that for award-winning?
Ducasse is recognised for his world-class French cuisine, but he is also the only chef on this list to have sent his food up into space. In 2015, Ducasse delivered meals to astronauts orbiting Earth on the International Space Station. Ducasse referred to this achievement as conquering the ‘final frontier (of cooking)’.
Gordon Ramsay: 16 stars
This hot-headed chef inspires the world with his passion, work ethic, and self-confidence. His empire stands at a whopping $190 million, and with his restaurants knocking on Asian doors, it’s only a matter of time before he hits the billions. Ramsay’s restaurants have been awarded an extraordinary 16 Michelin stars in total. He has skyrocketed his popularity with numerous successful TV shows, books, and appearances on various world stage events.
In 1993, Gordon Ramsay took on the kitchen of newly opened London restaurant, Aubergine. After being head chef for just two years, he earned the hotel a two-star Michelin rating. In 1998, at the age of 31, Ramsay set up his first wholly owned namesake restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. This quickly received the most prestigious accolade in the culinary world – three Michelin stars. Today, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is the longest-running restaurant in London to hold three Michelin stars. Chef Ramsay is also one of only four chefs in the UK to have maintained three stars.
To this day, Gordon Ramsay has opened 49 restaurants, 23 of which have been closed down. Notoriously referred to as the ‘Bad Boy of British Cuisine’, he’s famous for his legendary fiery temper in the kitchen. With all of his successes and failures, Ramsay’s story is a realisation of how a fire in the belly can dramatically change a person’s destiny.
Pierre Gagnaire: 14 stars
Another renowned French chef, Pier Gagnaire has spent his 40-year career collecting Michelin stars. Having grown up in his family’s own Michelin-star kitchen, he received his first star at the tender age of 26 – and he hasn’t stopped since. This iconoclastic chef is famous for tearing down the conventions of classic French cooking, and said to be at ‘forefront of the fusion cuisine movement’ according to the Michelin guide.
Gagnaire’s eponymous flagship restaurant in Paris’s Rue Balzac has maintained three Michelin stars for over two decades, a true feat in the culinary world. Today, he oversees 18 gastronomic restaurants around the world, including Sketch, a top Michelin star restaurant in London’s Mayfair.
Martin Berasategui – 12 stars
As the world’s third most decorated Michelin star chef, Martin Berasategui has more stars under his belt than any other Spanish chef, with 12 Michelin stars to his name. He’s also one of a select few chefs in the world who have two three Michelin-starred restaurants.
The exceptional Basque chef earned his first Michelin star at the young age of 25, for his first restaurant, Restaurante Martin Berasategui. The celebrated eatery was awarded a third Michelin star in 2001, and has been on the list of the World’s Top 50 Restaurants for more than six years.
Over his 44 year career, Berasategui has opened three other Michelin-starred restaurants in Tenerife and Barcelona. He also owns six other restaurants in Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Berasategui is considered to be a legend in the world of traditional Basque cuisine, and of course, one of the best chefs in the world.
Yannick Alléno: 10 stars
Yannick Alléno directs eighteen different restaurants around the world. His Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, located in the Champs-Élysées gardens. Alléno has a constellation of Michelin stars, with three star-rated restaurants in 2020’s French Michelin Guide. That same year, Pavillon Ledoyen became the most star-rated independent establishment in the world.
This French chef isn’t just about gathering stars, however. Since 2013, Alléno has been carrying out research and development on French cuisine to the point of starting his own culinary movement. This is termed Modern Cuisine. As part of his research, Alléno closely studied French sauces and evn patented his own technique, Extractions®. According to Alléno, this unique process allows for the concentration and perfection of flavours, giving them the ideal texture, a long finish, and minerality.
So there we have it, the world’s top 5 Michelin-starred chefs. Eat at any of their restaurants, and you’ll be guaranteed a diving meal of delicious food with magnificent texture. It may cost a fair bit of money to book a table at these award-winning restaurants, but it is well worth it to try these chefs’ food at least once in your life.