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There are plenty of insights you can gain by following food media and the nitty-gritty of the culinary elite, but you can also end up with a warped understanding of the various degrees of food celebrity. Ask the Extremely Online who Alison Roman is and they’ll probably provide you with a different answer than someone who casually picked up one of her cookbooks at a local bookstore. To one TikTok user, Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman) could be a total unknown, while Emily Mariko is a culinary behemoth.
It’s hard to determine who today’s biggest living food celebrity is, largely because answers change based on ages, tastes, and other demographics. But we do have Google, which can at least tell us who’s being searched for the most. Using Google Trends, which tracks the usage of specific search terms, we collected and compared a list of food celebrities — Alton Brown, Ree Drummond, Guy Fieri, Emily Mariko, Yotam Ottolenghi, Antoni Porowski, Alison Roman, Marcus Samuelsson, Martha Stewart, and Joshua Weissman — who land at varying points in the pop culture universe to find out who has the strongest search engine pull.
- All search data is for United States, past five years, general web search across all content categories
- A celeb’s search score, as recorded by Google Trends: “Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.”
- Data was pulled in two batches from Google Trends and combined into one sheet
- All celebs below are ranked by search score, from highest popularity to lowest popularity, using the average of search interest for the term over the five-year period
The results, ranked:
1. Martha Stewart
Search score: 34/100
Who: Do we really have to explain this one? TV host, author, entrepreneur, businesswoman, and publisher, Martha Stewart is the food and home empire. Ever since her first cookbook, Entertaining, was published in 1982, Stewart’s hold on America’s lifestyle aspirations hasn’t let up. In recent years, Stewart has expanded her brand, hosting a VH1 show with Snoop Dogg and branching into the world of CBD.
When: In terms of search interest, even Stewart’s lowest lows are higher than the highest highs for some chefs on this list. Though search interest is high all year, it generally sees its greatest spikes in November and December.
Why: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas likely account for those predictable increases in interest.
Where: Very popular in all U.S. states.
Notable outliers: Stewart has been in the news for more interesting reasons than big cooking holidays. For example, search interest for her name saw a larger-than-usual peak the week of September 22, 2019; that was the week Stewart caught Twitter’s attention for having “more street cred” than rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, a comparison that Snoop Dogg reinforced on Instagram days later. Search interest for Stewart also saw an unexpected spike the week of May 10, 2020, which happened to coincide with a huge spike in search for Alison Roman. It’s not clear what caused that increase for Stewart, as her news appearances that week were pretty milquetoast.
2. Guy Fieri
Search score: 19/100
Who: Mayor of Flavortown and daddy of all things diners and dives, Guy Fieri has become one of the most recognizable faces of Food Network since he arrived on the TV scene in 2006. Before making the jump, Fieri worked a variety of restaurant jobs and co-founded the California restaurant chain Johnny Garlic’s.
When: Interest in Fieri is consistent year-round, but the highest peak over the past five years occurred during the last week of February 2021.
Why: Fieri doesn’t have any particularly time-sensitive content, and his TV shows are great replay fodder year-round. On February 21, 2021, Fieri announced that he would be launching Flavortown Kitchens, a delivery-only ghost kitchen concept that would bring “Flavortown fries” and “Mac Daddy mac and cheese” to homes across the country.
Where: All U.S. states, but especially Nevada, where Fieri went to college and has a few restaurants.
3. Alton Brown
Search score: 15/100
Who: Chef-turned-TV host Alton Brown made his name on the food science-focused Good Eats, which ran on Food Network for 14 years beginning in 1999 and was later rebooted by both Cooking Channel and Discovery+. A food TV mainstay, Brown has appeared as a host and judge on plenty of shows, including Iron Chef America and Chopped.
When: Year-round, Brown is consistently among the top most-searched chefs on this list. Like clockwork, he sees two large peaks in search interest each year: a large spike in late November, followed by a slightly smaller spike in late December.
Why: The holidays! During the November peaks, the search terms commonly used with Brown’s name are all Thanksgiving foods—plus “Romancing the Bird,” his 1999 Good Eats Thanksgiving special. From 2017 to 2019, search interest for Brown at these Thanksgiving peaks was even equal to search interest for Martha Stewart.
Where: All U.S. states, but especially Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.
Notable outlier: Though nowhere near holiday levels, search interest for Brown saw a higher-than-usual spike over the last week of March 2020, which was shortly after he started posting a Pantry Raid quarantine-themed series on YouTube.
4. Ree Drummond
Search score: 12/100
Who: Ree Drummond started The Pioneer Woman, a blog that detailed her life on an Oklahoma ranch, in 2006, and it’s skyrocketed from there into an all-encompassing lifestyle brand, spurring cookbooks, a TV show, a housewares product line, plenty of awards, and millions of followers.
When: Drummond sees the most search interest each November.
Why: Thanksgiving, of course.
Where: All U.S. states, but especially Oklahoma.
Notable outlier: Search interest for Drummond saw a higher-than-Thanksgiving-level spike the week of March 7, 2021. That week, her husband, Ladd Drummond, and nephew Caleb Drummond were injured in a crash at their Oklahoma ranch. (In April, Caleb was arrested and later charged with driving while impaired.)
5. Alison Roman
Search score: 3/100
Who: After working at trendy New York City spots like Milk Bar and Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Alison Roman transitioned to recipe development at publications including Bon Appétit. Her debut cookbook, Dining In, was released in October 2017 to near-cult-like obsession as her recipes for “The Cookies” and “The Stew” took over social media. After leaving her columnist role at the New York Times in 2020, where she was responsible for some of the publication’s most popular recipes, she shifted to self-publishing on Substack and YouTube.
When: Interest in Alison Roman had been steady since early 2018, and picked up steam starting September 2019. The search term saw a huge spike in interest during the week of May 10, 2020.
Why: On May 7, 2020, the commerce publication the New Consumer published an interview with Roman that wouldn’t have caused anyone to bat an eye — save for a dig about Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen and how both had leveraged their success into product lines. The result was… a mess, with even Teigen weighing in on Twitter.
Where: All U.S. states.
6. Antoni Porowski
Search score: 1.95/100
Who: When Netflix rebooted Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as Queer Eye in 2018, it brought on self-taught cook Antoni Porowski as the Fab Five’s new food and wine expert. Prior to joining the show, Porowski had acted and worked in food service. Queer Eye has now been running for six seasons and has released bonus episodes as well as a miniseries set in Japan. Porowski has since written two cookbooks: Antoni in the Kitchen and Antoni: Let’s Do Dinner.
When: Porowski’s search interest generally peaks at least once a year, except for 2021. The two largest peaks occurred during the week of March 17, 2019, and the week of June 17, 2018.
Why: All peaks in search interest for Porowski align with the release dates for Queer Eye.
Where: All U.S. states except Wyoming.
7. Yotam Ottolenghi
Search score: 1.84/100
Who: Aside from his London restaurants, chef Yotam Ottolenghi is best known for his best-selling cookbooks Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Plenty, Jerusalem: A Cookbook, and Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook, which helped popularize Middle Eastern dishes and ingredients like tahini, pomegranates, and sumac in the United States. The “Ottolenghi effect” took over the world because cooking his food makes people feel good, according to Helen Goh in the Australian publication Good Food. This year, the chef — who is better known and was searched by his last name only — also became a columnist for the New York Times magazine.
When: Between 2017 and 2022, search interest for Ottolenghi has been low but consistent, with no major peaks.
Why: Though Ottolenghi’s books remain popular, roughly half of them were published before 2017. Simple was released in 2018; it doesn’t seem to be associated with a noticeable increase in search interest.
Where: All U.S. states except Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, West Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, and Mississippi.
8. Joshua Weissman
Search score: 1/100
Who: YouTuber Joshua Weissman got his chops cooking at fine dining restaurants, including Austin’s Uchiko, but he shifted to making cooking videos full-time in 2019, taking on a role of Alton Brown for the social media-native generation. When Weissman announced his pivot to YouTube, he was nearing 300,000 subscribers; almost three years later, he has more than 6 million on YouTube alone. His first major cookbook, An Unapologetic Cookbook, debuted in September 2021 as a New York Times best-seller.
When: Search interest for Weismann first became recognizable in December 2019. It has remained consistent from March 2020 to the present with no major peaks.
Why: Since shifting to YouTube, Weissman has published at a steady clip, with a few new videos each week.
Where: All U.S. states except Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
9. Marcus Samuelsson
Search score: 1/100
Who: After getting his start at Aquavit, chef Marcus Samuelsson opened his Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster, in 2010. Aside from his multiple restaurants worldwide, Samuelsson is a cookbook author (The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food, co-written with Osayi Endolyn), global brand adviser for Bon Appétit, and host, judge, and contestant on food shows including No Passport Required (a series produced by PBS and Eater), Top Chef Family Style, Chopped, and Top Chef Masters.
When: Interest in Samuelsson has been low but steady from 2017 to the present, with two small peaks for May 14-20, 2017, and June 18-24, 2017.
Why: On May 19, 2017, Samuelsson appeared on an episode of Undercover Boss, in which he wore a disguise to find new chefs at a cooking school, food truck, and soup kitchen. During that week in June, Samuelsson didn’t appear in any major news, though he did compete on Beat Bobby Flay the week before.
Where: All U.S. states and regions except Alaska, Hawaii, the Great Plains, Vermont, Maine, West Virginia, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
10. Emily Mariko
Search score: 0/100
Who: Emily Mariko is a Bay Area-based influencer and lifestyle vlogger whose grocery prep and everyday eating videos gained particular traction on TikTok. She now has more than 10 million followers on the platform, and her content has inspired everything from fascination to imitation to derision — all the way to actual Kewpie mayo outages as viewers re-created her now-famous leftover salmon rice bowl.
When: Google Trends began to recognize search interest for Mariko’s name in September 2021, and then interest peaked in October 2021.
Why: Mariko uploaded a few versions of her signature salmon rice bowl on TikTok, but it was her video that posted on September 21, 2021, that really blew up. A little more than a week later, the video picked up 33 million views, according to the Cut. Still, search interest has been on the decline since salmon-gate, and remains very low compared with other chefs on this list, despite Mariko’s consistently high viewership on social media.
Where: All U.S. states and regions except the Great Plains, Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia, Maine, and Vermont.
Fact checked by Kelsey Lannin
Copy edited by Leilah Bernstein