As we count down to tonight's televised Throwdown with Bobby Flay face-off against Nashville treasure Las Paletas—the title bout will be shown on a giant screen in the Las Paletas parking lot at 12th and Kirkwood, starting at 8 p.m.—I thought I'd pass along this ranking of America's top-earning celebrity chefs from Forbes.com. You'll find Flay at No. 9, with an income of $1.5 million.
The rest of the list is pretty interesting, for several reasons. One is the pervasive influence of the Food Network, which has converted chefs into vertically integrated cash-generating machines. The network accounts for five of the Top 10—and if you factor in shows on other networks, including Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen, the number of TV chefs goes up to eight. There's gold in them thar cookbooks and convention-center personal appearances and DVD sets an' setch!
On the other hand, it's interesting that the stakes so far are rather low. For all the ubiquity of Gordon Ramsay (No. 3) or Mario Batali (No. 7), nobody's pulling down those Oprah-sized bucks. Even the inescapable No. 1 clocks in with a relatively paltry $18 mil. (Brace yourself, by the way. "Chef" is defined about as loosely these days as "icon.") Here's hoping our home-state heroes the Neelys get some of that love.