There’s no denying that the vast majority of talents who enrol at the International Centre for Culinary Arts in Dubai have dreams shaped by the biggest names in the culinary industry. It delights us to hear how they were inspired to go to a professional cooking school because they love food and they admire the work of their favourite chefs who are products of distinguished culinary institutes themselves.

Indeed, chefs do not just wow diners with their work, but they also create an impact on other people’s lives as well. How many of us have learned to prepare or enjoy a particular dish in a more delicious way because of the suggestion of a chef? And how many of today’s young chefs travel the world and sample exotic cuisines because of the late and great Anthony Bourdain?

So, in this post, we bring honour to our culinary institute idols — seven world-famous chefs who, in so many ways, taught us how to get more enjoyment out of food. 

1.) Anthony Bourdain

Although not necessarily a chef famous for a particular dish or Michelin-star restaurant, Tony Bourdain certainly deserves a spot for being an influential force in the culinary world. He was highly skilled, for sure, but his adventurous spirit introduced many to cuisines from obscure corners of the world.

Tony approached food with wonder and openness and encouraged people to do the same because no matter the outcome, they’ll be enriched by the experience. He also showed much appreciation for regular Joes who cook superbly well without receiving training from prestigious culinary schools.  It’s just too bad that he has passed on, but his legacy remains in the culinary world.

2.) Marcus Samuelsson

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To reality TV cooking competition fans, Marcus Samuelsson is considered a god. In 2010, he won Top Chef Masters, besting 21 world-renowned chefs. However, these days, his name is synonymous with the best-fried chicken in the world.

His Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, New York is one of the top destinations for fried chicken lovers. The Yard Bird, Marcus’s signature fried chicken, is a winner even for people who love their fried chicken prepared the traditional way. 

3.) Wolfgang Puck

If you’re looking for the epitome of a celebrity chef on this list, that title could only belong to Wolfgang Puck. He’s the favourite of Hollywood celebrities and he has prepared food numerous times for several important Hollywood events, including the Oscars. He even has his own Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

Additionally, he owns Michelin-star restaurants Spago and Cut (and a bunch of other dining establishments). He is best known for his House Smoked Salmon Pizza which has totally changed the pizza experience for many.

4.) Nobu Matsuhisa

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In the culinary universe, there aren’t a lot of chefs who can go by just one name — except, of course, for Nobu Matsuhisa. This legendary chef, who has brought the elegance and creativity of Japanese-Peruvian cooking to the world, also owns world-class restaurants named after him.

If you say his name, gourmands and chefs everywhere automatically know who you mean and what dish he stands for, which is Black Cod with Miso. 

5.) Jamie Oliver

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This English chef is known the world over for whipping up delicious dishes straight out of his garden. There’s no denying that he has inspired many people to pick up cooking as a hobby or profession.

The charm of Jamie Oliver is that he makes everything look simple, and he focuses on flavours that appeal to lots of people. On top of that, he shows that you don’t need to have a fancy and fully equipped kitchen to prepare meals to impress picky young eaters or discriminating Italian grandparents who are all about traditional flavours.

6.) Thomas Keller

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The fame of The French Laundry in Yountville, California is all thanks to the ingenuity of its chef, Thomas Keller. This multi-awarded chef remains one of the most exciting experts in the scene. And if you’re looking to experience unparalleled cooking greatness, Thomas Keller is the best to deliver that.

He is the chef of chefs. His dedication to his craft is a reminder that life is good, but great things are delivered with a fierce commitment to quality and artistry. Of course, he’s known for particular dishes such as his Cornet of Salmon Tartare and his special for Tony Bourdain: Coffee and Cigarette Custard. But for Chef Keller, his best work is yet to come… and the world should stay tuned.

7.) Emeril Lagasse

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Another chef whom a lot of people have much to say about is Emeril Lagasse. He has a larger than life persona and has definitely made cooking a treat for many. His showmanship is incredible, and indeed, more is more for a truly enjoyable dish.

This cuddly-looking man has made fine cooking accessible and fun, particularly for housewives who tend to see the task as a boring chore.

Those are our picks! There are other amazing chefs out there, but we simply have a soft spot for these seven because not only are they different from each other, but they also all have a unique contribution to the culinary realm. 

If you long to become like one of these inspiring chefs one day, ICCA Dubai is the culinary institute to hone your talent. Visit us and learn more about the different speciality classes we offer.