Steve Ells

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Steve Ells
Born (1965-09-12) September 12, 1965 (age 49)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Education Boulder High School
Alma mater University of Colorado at Boulder (B.A.)
Culinary Institute of America
Known for Founding Chipotle Mexican Grill(with Chef Felix)

Steve Ells (born September 12, 1965)[1] is the founder, Co-CEO, and Chairman of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Ells founded Chipotle in 1993[1] and under his direction[2] the chain serves what it describes as "naturally raised meat" and promotes sustainable agriculture.[3]

Ells has been embroiled in controversy over his pay: In 2013, he was paid $25.1 million, more than his equivalents in larger companies such as Ford, Boeing, and AT&T.[4] In recent years, Ells and his co-chief executive have been paid more than $300 million.[5] Together, they were paid more than all but the highest-paid chief executive among the US's biggest 100 companies, Lawrence J. Ellison of Oracle. In May 2014, Ells was rebuked by shareholders, who rejected a plan to further his wages.[6]

Early life[edit]

Ells was born in Indianapolis, the son of a pharmaceutical executive.[7] He attended Boulder High School, the University of Colorado at Boulder (receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History) and Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, graduating in 1990.[8]


Ells served for two years as a sous chef under Jeremiah Tower[9] at Stars restaurant in San Francisco prior to launching Chipotle[1][10] and now sits on the board of directors of the Land Institute.[1] He borrowed money from family and friends to open the first Chipotle.[11]

We decided long ago that we didn't want Chipotle's success to be tied to the exploitation of animals, farmers, or the environment, but the engagement of our customers.

—Steve Ells[12]

In 2007, Ells received the CEO of the Year Award from ColoradoBiz magazine.[13]

In 2010, Ells joined the judging and investment panel on NBC's series America's Next Great Restaurant alongside Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia.[14]

In 2014 Chipotle investors voted against the size of Ells proposed pay package.[15]


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