Stars have been seen on the red carpet two weeks after giving birth, looking oh-so-svelte in designer gowns. We’ve also heard of the celebrities’ celebrations, where they are tempted by all kinds of food and drink. And we’re well aware of how difficult the A-list lifestyle will be on our waistlines. So, how do Julia, Jennifer, and J. Lo maintain their slender figures when living the high life? Their celebrity chefs are a key component.

Every celebrity has one person in charge of making investments to keep them in shape for their close-ups and policing their plate for culinary blunders while also catering to their whims (reasonable and not-so). We persuaded some of Hollywood’s top chefs to spill the beans on everything from super slimming secrets to celebrities’ worst cravings, to outrageous requests.

What celebrities eat in real life

It costs money for celebrities to eat well. They even pay well. A full-time private celebrity chef can credit and receive up to $150,000 per year plus health benefits; the average daily rate for such chefs in Los Angeles is about $350 to $500. And what about the food budget?

“There is no budget,” says Suyai Steinhauer, a former Top Chef contestant who is now a natural-foods chef in Los Angeles with celebrity clients. He says that famous people have all the money in the world and can be particular about what they eat, so they have no qualms about spending on pricier ingredients.

The interview for such a role is far from common. The basics are covered, including the celebrity’s preferred foods and dietary habits (vegetarian, no red meat, no green M&Ms), as well as the chef’s culinary philosophies.

Celebrities’ food preferences change as often as the new diet books. Chefs who specialize and make investments in raw ingredients are in high demand right now (like Jill Pettijohn, who has worked for stars like Drew Barrymore and Nicole Kidman). Stars like Gwyneth Paltrow favor chefs who specialize in macrobiotics, a grain-and-vegetable-based diet that severely restricts certain kinds of unhealthy elements in food.

A celebrity chef must not only meet the needs of his or her client, but also those of the celebrity’s friends and colleagues. Chefs spend years cooking for A-listers whose dinner parties necessitate extensive research.

How celebrities put an end to their snacking

Other celebrities have more basic preferences. Bethenny Frankel, a personal chef and former Hilton family assistant, to her credit, was a finalist on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart in 2005. Since then, she’s cooked for Donna Karan, Michael J. Fox, and Susan Sarandon, and she’s actually cooking for Denis Leary on the set of FX’s Rescue Me—in his trailer. “When I first met Denis, his assistant told me, ‘He likes to eat chicken Parmesan, and he’s really not into vegetables.’ But I wasn’t about to take a job cooking chicken Parmesan every day, so I changed his diet.”

Leary, the star and producer of the show about a post-9/11 New York City firefighter, now eats and makes investments in a wider variety of foods, from lamb chops to turkey burgers and grilled vegetables. Frankel has also introduced the actor to fish baked in aluminum foil, one of her favorite cooking methods.

Frankel also met Gina Gershon, who plays Valerie, Leary’s new girlfriend in Rescue Me, while on set. Frankel avoids a degree of energy-sapping white pasta and rolls for actresses like Gershon who need to stay energized during the day, opting instead for hearty vegetable combinations like acorn squash stuffed with feta cheese and herbs. Another tip she has for super-fast energy is to snack on whole foods during the day to keep the metabolism going. Frankel suggests a handful of almonds with dried cranberries or sour dried cherries, or Greek yogurt (such as Fage Complete,

Celebrity cheat days

If a celebrity requests it, healthy snacks are normally available on set. Doughnuts, brownies, pizza, and other decadent sweets are, too. How do chefs like Nathaniel Frankel assist celebrities in overcoming temptation?

When losing a degree of weight can make or break a client’s chance at a role, Frankel recommends a balanced diet over a quick-fix diet. “I take a vegetable broth with sauteed onions, carrots, and celery, and add either broccoli or cauliflower to it, and puree it with a tiny bit of salt and Spike Seasoning. Then he or she can eat a low-calorie meal and feel full.” Suyai Steinhauer once had a high-maintenance client who tried to lose a degree of weight in time for the Oscars. Rather than taking such drastic steps, Steinhauer suggests eating small quantities of proteins and grains during the day.

How celebrities lose weight after having a baby

According to Frankel, losing baby weight necessitates a completely different approach. She says that new moms typically have a diet that consists of high-calorie comfort food, and the goal is to switch them to healthier alternatives. She suggests a meal of brown rice, soy milk, cinnamon, raisins, almonds, and maple syrup in particular.

Mariska Hargitay is a fan of Frankel’s cooking (who plays detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). Since giving birth to her son in June, she lost a degree of her baby weight in a safe way. According to Frankel, “I made her some vegetable frittatas when she did a TV Guide shoot at her house with her son. She really liked it when I roasted Brussels sprouts until the leaves fell off and were crispy like potato chips.” Celebrities do have one advantage when it comes to improving and maintaining their diets: they have a good cook.