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Chef Pronunciation Guide - The Results Are In - September 29, 2004

So let’s face it, some of us from time to time butcher a chef’s name for 6 months, then hear somebody pronounce it correctly and feel really dumb. Don't worry; it has happened to all of us. I know I used to do it all the time, but now that I have compiled this list of a number of the top chefs and food personalities in the food world, I rarely miss a name. I suggest carrying a copy in your wallet for reference wherever you go.

After coming up with this list it was suggested that before archiving it, I should attempt to contact everyone on the list, to both make sure the pronunciation was correct, and to see if there were any funny stories they had. Personally, this summer I had my last name, Baber, butchered into “Pilar” at a Michelin two star in Colle di Val D’Elsa, which nearly lost me my reservation. I had to confirm my cell number with them in order to get my table back!

Some of the responses I received were absolutely great:

Note: The responses are abridged. I only included the relevant portions, and dropped the greetings and other miscellaneous info.

Grant Achatz- ACK-ETZ

Yes my name is often mis-pronounced. I can't say that I have any one funny story...most people just avoid it altogether and call me Chef or Chef Grant. You are correct on the pronunciation.
Ferran Adriá- feh rahn ah dree AH
I’m Ferran Adriá BEYATCH!! {Just kidding. No response.}

Daniel Boulud- dan-YELL boo-LOO

Chef Boulud evidently has a very good PR department. They provided me with not only the best information, but was one of the first to respond.

You have the pronunciation correct: dan-YELL boo-LOO As for stories there are a few we can think of off hand. Most common is the confusion so many people have between Chef Daniel Boulud and his friend Chef David Bouley. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked if the chef of our restaurant is David Boulud, if Chef Boulud's restaurants in Tribeca are still doing well, if Daniel Bouley has any more plans to expand, etc.... A second confusion with restaurant DANIEL is that we have often had people make reservations at a small downtown restaurant called DANIELLA and appear here thinking this is where their table will be. We always try to accommodate them if we can. In terms of pronunciation, he has been called everything from Chef Blue, to Chef BuluD, Bolod, Buld, etc...
Tom Colicchio- ko-lick-e-o
As for a phonetic way to spell chef's last name, I think this would be most accurate: ko-lick-e-o (like radicchio)

In addition, Mike Colicchio actually posted here to inform me that:

My brother and our entire family pronounce our surname Ko lick e o. We stress the second syllable.
Italian, of course, from the village of Vallata in the province of Avellino. By way of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
I hope this clears it up once and for all.

Ruth Reichl- RYE-shul

It's more like rye-shel, but I can't say it the way my German father did, which was with an r in the back of the throat. When I first started writing I used to save envelopes with the various permutations of my name on them; my favorite was the one addressed to Ruth Raisehell.
Michael Ruhlman- ROOL-munn
Yep, that's a good phonetic spelling of the name. no funny stories, just the annoying assumption that it's spelled and pronounced Roman.

Guy Savoy- Ghee Sav-wah

One thing I thought was incredibly ironic, was the name they addressed the return email to.

Dear Mr Barber, Thank you for your mail. Very often there is a confusion with the spelling of my name. People write it like the well-known French region: La Savoie. This confusion doesn't shoke me, on the contrary I am very proud beeing associated to this beautiful area where I was born.
It’s ironic because my name is Baber, and given the topic of the email it was especially funny. I was glad to hear from Chef Savoy himself, though.

Full list:
Grant Achatz- ACK-ETZ
Ferran Adriá- feh rahn ah dree AH
Lidia Bastianich- lid ee ya bahs-TYAHN-itch
Mario Batali- bot tal ee
Richard Blais- Blaze
Paul Bocuse- pole boh-KOOZ
Daniel Boulud- dan-YELL boo-LOO
Tony Bourdain- boor dain
Michael Chiarello- kee ah rell oh
Tom Colicchio- Ko leek ee o
Gary Danko- DANG-ko
Marcel Desaulniers- mar cell di sol ni yay
Georges Auguste Escoffier- jorgz oh goost ess coff ee ay
Yutake Ishinabe- Yew-tah-keh Ee-she-nah-beh
Steve Klc- Kelch
Chen Kenichi- Chen is self explanatory, Kenichi is Keh-nee-chee (note that Chen is his family name, and Kenichi is his given name)
Masahiko Kobe- Mah-sah-hee-koh Koh-bay
Emeril Lagasse- la gass ee
Rokusaburo Michiba- Rouk-sah-boo-roh Mee-chee-bah
Masaharu Morimoto- Mah-sah-hah-roo Moh-ree-moh-toe
Koumei Nakamura- Koh-may Nah-kah-moo-rah
Jacques Pepin- pep anne
Paul Prudhomme- proo-DOHM
Ruth Reichl- RYE-shul
Dale Reitzer- RITE-zer
Eric Ripert- eh-REEK ree-PAIR
Michael Ruhlman- ROOL-munn
Guy Savoy- Ghee Sav-wah
Hiroyuki Sakai- He-ROH-yew-KEY SAH-kai (hee-roo-you-kee sah-KAI is hee-roh-YOU-kee)
Joachim Splichal- joe ah keem splee kahl
Charlie Trotter- trah tur
Jean Georges Vongerichten- VON-gehr-ICK-ten
Giada De Laurentiis - JAH-dah DEE-lor-EN-tis
Guy Fieri - Fietti
Pichet Ong -
Philippe Rispoli -
Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA - CAH-huhl Arm Strong
Tom Sietsema -
Roberto Donna - doh-NAH
Michel Richard - Mi-shell Ree-shard
Marcel Desaulniers - mar cell di sol ni ya (Desaulniers is a common name in Québec. It isn't di sol ni yay but day sol ni yay (in France and Québec).
Matsushita - Maht-SOOSH-Tah

Overall this was not only a learning experience for me, but also a fun one. I got the pleasure of getting emails from some of my personal favorite people in the food world. I even considered emailing some that didn’t really apply. “Chef Keller…umm we’re having a bit of a problem pronouncing Thomas. Do you prefer Tom or Tommy? Because we don’t have any problem with those.” In the end, though, I stuck to the list.


Andrew Baber


To the following chefs; let it be known that it is quite difficult to contact you!
Lidia Bastianich
Mario Batali
Paul Bocuse
Michael Chiarello
Gary Danko
Marcel Desaulniers
Yutake Ishinabe
Steve Klc
Chen Kenichi
Masahiko Kobe
Emeril Lagasse
Rokusaburo Michiba
Masaharu Morimoto
Koumei Nakamura
Jacques Pepin
Paul Prudhomme