Which States Have Best Chefs per Capita?

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

July is National Culinary Arts Month, so EmpireStakes.com decided to take a break from New York sports betting coverage to look at which states have the most highly ranked chefs based on their population.

We utilized Best Chefs America - which has the 5,000 best chefs in a database to establish the top culinary talent in the United States - to collect the state location for each of the top chefs. We then utilized the estimated July 1 2022 Census state population numbers to figure out the states with the best chefs per capita.

Note: This data is where the chefs are located, not their hometowns.

Here is the list compiled by EmpireStakes.com, your source for NY sports betting promos.

States with the Best Chefs

Overall RankState# of Chefs on ListChefs Per Capita
2Rhode Island490.000045
7New York5400.000027
13New Jersey1980.000021
16New Hampshire230.0000164
21New Mexico280.0000132
23South Carolina640.00001211
24North Carolina1280.0000119


Inside Our Chef Results

The winners were not what you would expect . . . unless you thought about it.

Sure, New York and California have the greatest number of top chefs, but they also have the most people. No. 1 state Vermont has a lot of trendy restaurants sprinkled among its quaint towns and mountains, but not that many citizens.

New York finished seventh on our list with 540 chefs among the Best Chefs in America – more than 10% of the list, but that’s spread out among nearly 20 million residents.

Many top chefs have restaurants in the Big Apple, but they’re not really New Yawkers. Some of those who are include:

Bobby Flay: The longtime Food Network star and Iron Chef was born in New York and grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. A high school dropout, Flay got his start making salads at the famed Joe Allen Restaurant in the midtown theater district. Flay was the executive chef at the original Mesa Grill in Manhattan in 1991 and soon after became a partner. He’s since opened restaurants all over the country, highlighting all types of cooking, but he remains best known for his bold, southwest flavors and his competitive cooking skills.

Marcus Samuelsson wasn’t raised in New York, but he made his name here, first as the executive chef of the midtown Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit, and later as owner of the Red Rooster and Streetbird Rotisserie, both in Harlem. Samuelsson also hosts the show “Home Plate” on the YES Network, which takes famous New Yorkers to their favorite dining spots.

Iron Chef and TV personality Alex Guarnaschelli moved to New York when she was a few days old and attended high school at Horace Mann and college at Barnard. Her shows include “Alex vs. America” and “Supermarket Stakeout” and she’s the executive chef at Butter in Manhattan.

Tom Colicchio was born across the river in New Jersey, but New York City’s Gramercy Tavern, which he opened with Danny Meyer, put him on the map in the 1990s, when it became one of New York’s most popular spots. Now Colicchio oversees five New York restaurants, including Craft, Small Batch, Temple Court, ‘wichcraft and Vallata.

As the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten has won over TV viewers and home cooks with her luxurious life picking herbs from her garden, gracefully throwing together fresh, healthy, delicious dishes, and hosting parties for the beautiful people in the Hamptons – whom she first met selling them fancy cheeses and more at her gourmet food store. Ina, however, is not a Contessa. She was born in Brooklyn.

Marc Forgione grew up in Long Island, was a winner of “The Next Iron Chef” in 2010, was the youngest American chef to win a Michelin star in consecutive years, and now runs or co-runs his namesake restaurant in Tribeca, the American Cut steakhouses and Khe-yo, specializing in unique takes on food from Laos.

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Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist who’s worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.

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