Written by Linda Rosenkrantz for Nameberry.com
Though the season of justifiable stuffing our faces is finally over, that doesn’t mean we have to stop thinking about food. So let’s take this opportunity to sublimate by saluting some of the most famous foodies of the past and present. Of course, our focus is on those with noteworthy names (not necessarily recipes) -- so, with apologies to Julia, Jamie, Jacques, Mario, Alice, Anthony, Daniel, Bobby and Gordon -- here are Nameberry's choices Top (Name) Chef.
Auguste Escoffier, born Georges Auguste was a French chef (1846-1935) who was one of the pre-eminent leaders in the development of modern French cuisine. Parents have recently been flocking to the traditional month name August -- perhaps some would like to give it a Gallic twist and pronounce it ow-goost.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Edna">Edna</a> Lewis was an Africa-American chef and cookbook writer renowned for her books on traditional Southern cuisine. The name Edna could be next in line to follow other once-abandoned E-girls names like <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/ella">Ella</a>, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/elsa">Elsa</a>, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/elsie">Elsie</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/etta">Etta</a> back onto contemporary babies’ birth certificates.
The Food Network star <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Emeril">Emeril</a> Lagasse is almost as famous for his catchphrases ‘Bam’ and ‘Kick it up a notch’ as for his Cajun-Creole-French cooking. Lagasse streamlined and feminized his first name (which was inherited from his father) when he called his daughter Meril.
Fuschia Dunlap is a British food writer/chef who specializes in Chinese cuisine, as reflected in the title of her memoir "Shark’s Fin" and "Sichuan Pepper." Fuschia is one of the least used of the color names, perhaps because of its not so easy to love sound and tricky spelling. Singer Sting named his first daughter Fuschia Katherine in 1982, but though she acts under the name Fuschia, she generally goes by Kate.
Italian-born <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Giada">Giada</a> De Laurentiis, granddaughter of famed producer <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Dino">Dino</a> De Laurentiis, is another Food Network (and "Today" show) star and bestselling celebrity cookbook author. She named her daughter <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Jade">Jade</a>, which is the English translation of her own name Giada -- one of the <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gia">Gia</a>-starting Italian names beginning to find favor in the US.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Maida">Maida</a> Heatter is a dessert maven, specializing in pastry -- she’s written books on everything from great chocolate desserts to delicious cookies. The name Maida has faded away -- perhaps because of the connotations of its first syllable -- but it could be found sporadically on the Top 1000 list from the 1880s to 1919. Likelihood of a revival? Not great.
Glamorous British food writer and journalist <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Nigella">Nigella</a> Lawson is the daughter of one-time UK Chancellor of the Exchequer <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Nigel">Nigel </a>Lawson, so it would seem to have been a no-brainer when her grandmother came up with the feminization Nigella. Few American parents are using Nigel for their sons and Nigella is an even more unlikely choice.
The attractive, multi-talented, Indian-born, American-raised <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Padma">Padma </a>Lakshmi has been a model and actress in addition to authoring cookbooks and hosting the popular reality show "Top Chef." Padma is an Indian name that means ‘lotus,’ and is used in Hindu texts to reference the goddess Lakshmi; it is also the name of a river in India.
Greek-American <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cat">Cat</a> <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cora">Cora</a>, born <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Catherine">Catherine</a>, is one of the Food Network’s "Iron Chefs," specializing in Fusion style cooking. The feline short-form Cat is one of the nicknames du jour of Catherine, replacing the dated <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cathy">Cathy</a>, and sounding a bit fresher than <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cate">Cate. </a>
High-profile New York celebrity chef and cookbook author <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Rocco">Rocco</a> Di Spirito has also been on Dancing with the Stars and been voted People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Chef’ in 2002. The name Rocco was brought out of its Italian neighborhood into the mainstream when Madonna and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Guy">Guy</a> Ritchie chose it for their son in 2000, when it was not even in the Top 1000; it now ranks Number 402.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Wolfgang">Wolfgang</a> Puck is the ebullient Austrian restaurateur and chef who revolutionized California cooking at Spago and other venues. When <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Valerie">Valerie</a> Bertinelli and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Eddie">Eddie</a> Van Halen named their son Wolfgang in the milder baby-name climate of the early nineties, it was seen as quite outlandish, discounting the fact that it’s a classic, Mozartian German name. Now a little Wolfie doesn’t sound outlandish at all.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Wylie">Wylie</a> Dufresne is the leading American advocate of the somewhat radical molecular gastronomy, incorporating new scientific techniques into food preparation and presentation. A friendly, freewheeling, cowboyish name, Wylie can also be spelled Wiley and has long been a recommended Nameberry choice.
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