"Super-chefs" Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal have been made OBEs in the New Year Honours list, but cooking is a far cry from their early careers.
Ramsay, the fiery TV star who runs a host of top eateries, was on the books of Glasgow Rangers in his teens but injury ended his professional chances.
Blumenthal, patron of what was voted the world's best restaurant in 2005, started out as a photocopier salesman.
Renowned for his snail porridge, he said he was "speechless" at the award.
But what were early career changes have turned out to be Ramsay and Blumenthal's making.
The pair, who both run restaurants awarded the industry's acclaimed Michelin stars, are at the top of their game.
Ramsay, infamous for his explosive foul-mouthed rants, has been the star of several TV series, including Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen and The F-Word.
He caused controversy this year by saying women "can't cook to save their lives" and by showing turkeys that he raised in his garden being slaughtered on one of his programmes.
Described as "a truly global star of the cooking world", at 39 he runs restaurants in the Connaught, Claridge's, at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge and in Dubai.
One of Heston Blumenthal's dishes - caviar and chocolate
In April, he picked up a British Academy Television Award for Best Feature.
He said he was "humbled and delighted" to accept the honour and that it was "the most wonderful way to round off an extraordinary year".
"I feel that this recognition is as much for my team as it is for me," he said
"I'm lucky enough to work with the most amazing people whose hard work and dedication is an endless source of inspiration to me."
Blumenthal, meanwhile, has become famous for his bizarre dishes at his restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire.
The 39-year-old, who became the youngest and fastest chef to be awarded his third Michelin star, serves up such oddities as cauliflower risotto with chocolate jelly, chocolate and caviar and chips that take three days to prepare.
A life-changing experience at a restaurant in France when he was 16 made him realise there was "quite simply no other career in the world that I wanted to pursue".
After quitting work as a salesman and then a credit controller in his father's business, he went to work at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons restaurant in Oxfordshire, but quit after just a week to go it alone.
Blumenthal was the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars
Fascinated with mixing cuisine, psychology and physics, he tempts diners to taste "frozen crab bisque", or crab ice-cream, at his restaurant.
This year it was classed as the best restaurant in the world by more than 600 food critics and journalists, while his more traditional eatery, the nearby Hinds Heads, was awarded 19 out of 20 in the Gault Millau guide.
Defending British cuisine, he said: "I like to think I am a very British chef.
"All that nonsense from Jacques Chirac about British food being some of the worst in the world did us a favour because we got a lot of press attention in France and abroad.
"We are now hopefully showing that British food is on the up and is something to be really proud of."