Consumer Reports: Rating celebrity chef's foods

September 20, 2011 8:25:35 PM PDT
Who are the most-trusted celebrities? Chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen, according to a recent poll. But can you trust celebrity foods to deliver star-studded results?

Consumer Reports' testers got busy tasting foods by famous folks and restaurants to find out.

From Giada De Laurentiis to Iron Chef's Mario Batali, more and more celebrity chefs are making the leap from TV shows to the supermarket.

"The catch with celebrity foods is they can come with a high price tag. They can be two or three times as much as a garden-variety brand," said Kim Kleman with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports wanted to know whether celebrity brands are worth their A-list prices. So it taste-tested dozens of tomato sauces, salad dressings, and soups from famous chefs like Wolfgang Puck, restaurants like Rao's, and Hollywood stars like the late Paul Newman.

"Many do include fresher ingredients, but not all," adds Kleman.

Take these Emeril's and Newman's Own pasta sauces. Both list as their first ingredient tomato purée, which is water and tomato paste. So does Ragu, which is less expensive!

Kleman adds, "About half of the celebrity products we tested were no better than cheaper mainstream brands, although a few rated excellent."

Among soups, Wolfgang Puck's Tomato Basil Bisque is the standout, but it's pricey at $3.50.

For pasta sauces, both Mario Batali's Marinara and Giada De Laurentiis' Tomato Basil rated excellent. While his costs a whopping eight dollars, hers is a Best Buy for three dollars at Target!

But no celebrity salad dressings rated excellent. You could probably make a better and less expensive one yourself at home.

Consumer Reports also rated a celebrity wine excellent. The 2007 Greg Norman Estates Shiraz has rich, full fruit flavors and costs 13 dollars.