Many star chefs attribute their efficiency and work ethic to their time spent earning their stripes as prep cooks, dishwashers, and the like. We did some investigating and unearthed which low-brow restaurants some well-known chefs started out at before making it big. We also found out the low-pay positions they endured, including delivery boy, busser, stromboli cook, and penny-candy salesman.  

Chef: Bobby Flay (Mesa Grill)
First Job: Bobby worked as a pizza delivery boy in the sixth grade. “When I wasn’t delivering pies, the owners of the parlor let me open the
cans of tomatoes and grate the mozzarella.” [via NY Daily News]

Chef: Paula Deen
First Job: Before starting her own line of finishing butters, Deen ran the Bag Lady delivery service in town with her two sons, Jamie and Bobby. [via Metromix NY]

Chef: Michael Voltaggio (Ink)
First Job: This Top Chef alumn began his career bussing tables at the local Holiday Inn where his brother (Bryan Voltaggio) was a sous-chef. [via Food & Wine]

Chef: Guy Fieri (Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar)
First Job: At the tender young age of six, Guy sold penny candy to tourists from a cardboard box with a hole cut in the side. [via]

Chef: Barbara Lynch (No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters)
First Job: Barbara’s first paid cooking job was at age 13 at a local rectory in South Boston. [via .Inc]

Chef: Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, The Nomad)
First Job: Chef Humm started his cooking career as an apprentice at the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich at age 16. (OK, that’s not a low-brow restaurant). [via Restaurant Girl]

Chef: Alex Stupak (Empellón CocinaEmpellón Taqueria)
First Job: Alex began his culinary career as a prep cook at Bobby Chic’s Italian Café in his hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts [via Food & Wine]

Chef: Mario Batali (Babbo, Del Posto)
First Job: Mario was “the second-fastest line cook” at Stuff Yer Face, the stromboli restaurant on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick. [via]

Chef: Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next)
First Job: Achatz worked at his parents’ small Michigan restaurant, flippin’ omelets. [via]