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Chef Jamie Oliver. (Courtesy Jamie Oliver)
Chef Jamie Oliver. (Courtesy Jamie Oliver)

Staying Private

Seven gastronomy icons who put innovation on the menu Add to ...

Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group: Dishing up advice

Restaurateur Danny Meyer, founder and co-owner of Union Square Hospitality Group, opened his first restaurant, Union Square Café, in New York City in 1985. More restaurants, catering and sporting concessions – New York Mets, Saratoga Race Course, Washington Nationals – followed, along with a new consulting service, Hospitality Quotient. The philosophy: Dishes may be reproduced, but “no one can replicate the hospitality experience you create.” He has written two cookbooks and a business book, Setting the Table: the Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business.

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David Chang’s Momofuku: Bold Toronto expansion

Foodies rejoiced when Korean-American chef David Chang made his most ambitious foray (to date) outside of New York City in the fall of 2012: a bar and three differently themed restaurants housed in one complex in downtown Toronto. “In New York, we’re always fighting for space. New space in a new building? We couldn’t do that there,” Chef Chang, founder of the original Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York in 2004, told The Globe and Mail at his Toronto launch. And, with all the Torontonians beating a path to his restaurants in New York, he figured there was a hungry market.

Gordon Ramsay: Just as aggressive outside Hell’s Kitchen

Cooking was Plan B for this driven Scottish-born entrepreneur, who became a chef after a knee injury sidelined a promising soccer career. After earning a degree in hotel management, he studied under some of the great chefs of Europe before striking out to open his own establishment, Gordon Ramsay, in London in 1998. His talent and personality led to television celebrity, which he parlayed into an international restaurant business empire.

Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group: Diversification a key ingredient

Inspired by his grandmother, French-born Daniel Boulud developed an early passion for food. After honing his culinary – and business – skills with France’s leading chefs, Mr. Boulud moved to New York and launched the upscale Daniel in 1993. He now operates establishments, ranging from casual dining to haute cuisine, in Beijing, Singapore, London, Miami, Palm Beach, Toronto and Montreal. “Younger customers, who discover the less expensive brands, are going upstream ... because they had a great experience in a more casual way where they found value, which is important today; actually, it’s always been essential,” he said in a magazine interview in New York.

Jamie Oliver: Naked Chef and Entrepreneur

Mr. Oliver whetted his appetite in the kitchen of his parents’ restaurant in Essex, Britain, studied cooking and landed a job at the acclaimed River Café in London. After being featured in a documentary about the River Café, the charismatic chef was offered his own television show, The Naked Chef. His show business career took off, followed by more hit television shows, a series of cookbooks, the establishment of a chain of Italian restaurants, a catering business, a line of kitchen equipment and the launch of an iPhone app, 20-Minute Meals.

Gaston Acurio: ‘Seducing the world’ with Peruvian cuisine

The son of a former Peruvian prime minister, Gaston Acurio was sent to Madrid to study law but dropped out to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris instead. He married a classmate and returned to Lima in 1994, initially introducing French cuisine to Peru, but eventually developing a number of Peruvian restaurants and expanding the franchise throughout South America and Latin America. With his own weekly television show, a couple of cookbooks and establishments now in San Francisco, New York and Madrid, as well, Gaston Acurio is well on the way to his stated goal of “seducing the world” with Peruvian gastronomy.

Masaharu Morimoto: Iron Chef takes wasabi to Mumbai

Masaharu Morimoto devoted the first several years of his career mastering the intricacies of sushi and kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, in his native Hiroshima before moving to the United States to expand his repertoire. Chef Morimoto’s innovative style and artful integration of Western and Japanese ingredients landed him a role on the Iron Chef TV cooking show and underpinned the success of his expanding restaurant business, with operations in Philadelphia, New York City, Honolulu, Mexico City, Dubai and New Delhi. He also sells knives.

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