Is Massachusetts Among States with the Best Chefs per Capita?

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

July is National Culinary Arts Month, so will step away from Massachusetts sports betting to look at which states have the most highly ranked chefs based on their population.

We started by utilizing 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 used the estimated July 1, 2022 Census state population numbers to figure out the states with the best chefs per capita. The data is where the chefs are located, not the cities in which they were born.

Here is the list compiled by, where you will find the best Massachusetts betting promos.

States with the Most Top Chefs

Overall RankState# of Chefs on ListChefs Per Capita
2Rhode Island490.000045
7New York5400.000027
13New Jersey7960.000021
16New Hampshire230.0000164
21New Mexico280.0000132
23South Carolina640.00001211
24North Carolina1280.0000119


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Massachusetts Chefs Who Excel

Massachusetts came in at No. 15, ahead of No. 16 New Hampshire and No. 17 Connecticut, but behind No. 1 Vermont, No. 2 Rhode Island and No. 5 Maine, in the powerful New England region. Massachusetts has more top chefs than the other New England states, but its higher population knocked it down a few pegs.

Three Massachusetts chefs nominated for 2023 James Beard Awards made it to the finals this year. In the Outstanding Chef category, Rachel Miller of Lynn’s Nightshade Noodle Bar received a nod. A leader in promoting pay equity – a shame there’s no award for that except a clean conscience – Miller’s restaurant combines French and Vietnamese flavors with homemade noodles.

In the category of Best Chef: Northeast, a nomination went to Yisha Siu of Yunnan Kitchen in Boston’s South End. Another went to Valentine Howell of Krasi, a Greek restaurant in Back Bay.

James Beard semifinalists in the Northeast category were Ellie Tiglao of Tanam in Somerville, and Boston’s Yahya Noor of Tawakai Halal Café, Derrick Teh of SEKALI, and Douglass Williams of MIDA. Vinh Le of Cambridge’s Cicada Coffee Bar was a semifinalist in the Emerging Chef category.

Brookline-raised Lydia Shire, a James Beard Award winner, has been a fixture on the Boston fine dining scene for more than 30 years. Boston-born Barbara Lynch, another Beard winner, now has seven popular Boston restaurants, including No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, Butcher Shop, Stir, Drink, Sportello and Menton. Cassie Piuma, from Duxbury, is a six-time Beard nominee, and the co-owner of Sarma in Somerville. Another multiple nominee is Food Network favorite Tiffani Faison, whose company Big Heart Hospitality owns five Boston restaurants: Sweet Cheeks, Fool’s Errand, Bubble Bath, Tenderoni’s and Dive Bar.

Other famous chefs were born in Massachusetts, but went on to national, international and Food Network fame. They include Emeril Lagasse from Fall River, Jason Santos from Boston, Chris Santos from Fall River, and Geoffrey Zakarian from Worcester. Jason Santos does run Abby Lane, Citrus& Salt, and Buttermilk & Bourbon in Boston.

And fans of Moo Shu Pork and Hot & Sour Soup take note: Chinese cooking legend Joyce Chen, who many credit with popularizing northern Chinese dishes in the U.S., opened her first restaurant in Cambridge in 1958. Some of her firsts include the numbering of dishes on the menu so her Chinese waitstaff could understand, the introduction of the Chinese buffet so unfamiliar customers could try different dishes and bringing Peking Duck and other Chinese staples to the Boston area.


Howard Gensler
Howard Gensler
Journalist / Reporter

Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist covering the Massachusetts sports betting market for Before his focus on U.S. sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of

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