How to Work With Celebrity Chefs

By Dawn Reiss, February 18, 2016

Want to add star power to your conference? Many celebrity chefs—such as Spiaggia’s James Beard winner Tony Mantuano, based in Chicago—negotiate potential events through agents or hospitality marketing companies such as Wagstaff Worldwide, which represents about 50 chefs around the country.

If you’ve determined you have a budget to bring in a celebrity chef, Hannah Kasperzak, the Wagstaff account supervisor who represents Mantuano, suggests planners first consider whether an event and the chef are “like-minded brands.” Then look at how much time will be required of them—including setup and travel time, as well as the amount of media exposure an event might bring—when negotiating options such as financial compensation or a potential trade opportunity. “Every chef is different,” Kasperzak says. “It could be a trade, for instance, if there’s clout with the brand or if there’s a certain amount of money in merchandise to make it worth the chef’s time.”

That being said, you don’t need a famous face behind the stove to make an impact. “It doesn’t matter if he is a well-known chef or not,” says Kim Orlando, founder of, “he is a celebrity at that moment.”

Related: How to Host a Live Cooking Demo at Your Event

Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist who has written for Travel and Leisure, USA Today and Reuters. Find her on Twitter, @dawnreiss.

Photo Credit: Kenny Nakai

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