Here's How Much A Michelin Star Chef Really Makes

The world of Michelin stars is clouded with mystery and wonder, particularly when they're awarded to highly luxurious restaurants where most people will never set foot. The awards range from one to three stars and denote high quality, excellence, and "exceptional cuisine worth a special journey" according to the Michelin Guide. Food is the star of the show in these acclaimed restaurants, and the guide pays just as much attention to its consistency and value as to the nature of the preparations.

Although the chef in question is responsible for the dishes served, Michelin stars are given to restaurants. When looking at how much a starred chef can expect to earn, Fine Dining Lovers remarks that whether or not they own a part of the restaurant is certainly significant. If they do indeed share the ownership, the success of the business is relevant to their earnings. 

When a restaurant receives a Michelin star, there is often an instant rise to fame and with it and a marked increase in business as a few chefs at starred restaurants explained to Food & Wine. However, a study by the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly found that actual financial profits were much more varied across starred restaurants. Food & Wine points out that a restaurant in a cosmopolitan metropolis might have no trouble filling their tables, whereas a quaint restaurant in a small town might face a different reality.

Are the stars and salary worth the stress and hard work?

Fine Dining Lovers assessed salaries for Head Chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York, Tokyo, Paris, and London. Chefs in New York and Tokyo average around $100,000 a year, whereas the European chefs earn about $70,000 to $80,000. Keep in mind that these are among the cities in the world with the highest cost of living.

Additionally, a Michelin star doesn't always equate to total luxury. The world's cheapest Michelin star restaurant charges around $2 for a chicken and rice dish from a stall. We'd bet chef Chan Hon Meng isn't making the same as Paco Roncero at Sublimotion, the world's most expensive Michelin starred restaurant in Ibiza, charging around $2,000 per head (via Finances Online). His net worth is estimated between $1 and 5 million, according to Popular Bio. Then again, Sublimotion isn't exactly the average dining experience (via Hard Rock Hotels).

For such a prestigious award, it's natural to wonder if the salary reflects the high pressures of the status. History of Yesterday describes the need for perfection and notes that the fear and reality of losing a star has led multiple chefs to suicide. It's not just a matter of receiving Michelin recognition, but of holding onto it. When looking at the emotional stress and turmoil associated with being a Michelin starred chef, we're not sure the salary is worth it.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.