California Ranks High Among States With The Best Chefs

Fact Checked by Michael Peters

When it comes to good food, diversity is essential, and that doesn’t just apply to the people. You need a diverse environment and few states in the nation offer a more wide-ranging landscape than California.

California’s climate stretches from mountains to desert and sea, offering many different places for the ingredients that make the food in California so good. Those who prepare the dishes are the beneficiaries of this diverse part of the country’s climate and its people.

As we celebrate National Culinary Arts Month in July, took a break from covering California sports betting issues and looked at which states have access to the best of the best chefs you can find in America. utilized Best Chefs America, which has the 5,000 best chefs in a database to establish the top culinary talent in the United States, to collect the state location for each of the top chefs. We then utilized the estimated July 1, 2022, Census state population numbers to figure out the states with the best chefs by capita. Note this is where they are located, not where they are from.

States With The Best Chefs

Overall RankState# of Chefs on ListChefs Per Capita
2Rhode Island490.000045
7New York5400.000027
13New Jersey1980.000021
16New Hampshire230.0000164
21New Mexico280.0000132
23South Carolina640.00001211
24North Carolina1280.0000119

In the coming years, when headed to the state to sample the best chefs, you’ll also be able to wager on your favorite sports teams using California sports betting promos.

California Has Most Top Chefs

Because of its size, California has the most total number of chefs on the list with 796, but that’s only good enough for 14th when ranked on a per capita basis. New York is the next closest with 540 total, which puts it seventh per capita.

According to the website, its list “features premier chefs that have been nominated and recommended by their peers in the culinary field.” So they didn’t get on the list without the support of someone in the field.

As for where all of those 796 chefs do their cooking, Los Angeles has the most with 120. That makes sense since Los Angeles is the second-largest city in America, and it has the food scene that attracts many up-and-coming chefs. San Francisco, considered to have the best food in California, has the second most of the 796 top chefs with 101. San Diego has 83 on the list, and Sacramento comes in with 35.

That helps explain a 2022 list by that ranked the best foodie cities in the country. Three California cities made the top 10, with San Francisco at No. 4, Sacramento at No. 6 and San Diego at No. 10. People are flocking to where the best chefs are working.

One of Los Angeles’ chefs was a finalist for the Most Outstanding Chef in the country for 2023 by the James Beard Foundation. Niki Nakayama from the n/naka restaurant.

But the No. 1 thing that gives California so many great chefs comes back to the diversity. Sure, the environment plays a great part, but the state’s people give you so many options when it comes to eating out. Mediterranean, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Italian, sushi, Greek and so much more can be found all across Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities around the state. It’s no surprise California has most of the country’s top 5,000 chefs.


Douglas Pils has been a sports journalist for 30 years in Texas, Arkansas and New York having worked for the San Antonio Express-News, the Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News and Newsday. He most recently ran the Student Media Department at Texas A&M for eight years.

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