You've always said that "someday" you'll start that meal prep or dinner party business, but where do you start?
Whether you're just curious about the personal chef business or you're looking for a way to get new leads into your business, you're in the right place.How to Personal Chef Business Step-by-Step Action Plan Ask a Question
"Thank you again for all of your invaluable help. I have been very reluctant to begin sooner because I did not have all of the valuable information that you have provided. So honestly...you are a life saver"
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"I must first say THANK YOU so much for the invaluable advice that you have provided to me about becoming a personal chef. I have been considering it for a number of years, but wasn't quite sure of where to begin."
Frequently Asked Questions
A personal chef researches recipes and plans a customized menu for each client. The chef shows up with groceries and cooks meals in the client's kitchen, then packages the meals for the client to enjoy at a later time.
As a personal chef, you choose what hours and days you'd like to work, part-time, full-time or seasonal. Some personal chefs offer other services such as dinner parties, cooking classes, kitchen equipment and pantry stocking, nutritional advice, and/or custom menu planning.
A private chef works for just one client - a group, family, couple or individual. He/she is an employee, often on salary. The client controls their hours and income.
A personal chef works for as many clients as desired. Personal chefs own their own business and are in control of their own hours and income. This website shares knowledge about starting a personal chef business as opposed to a private chef job.
Neither a culinary degree nor membership with a culinary association are requirements for becoming a personal chef. Potential clients want to know that you can confidently provide the service they're requesting, regardless of your education or skill level.
Because individuals are hiring you, there are no "general" requirements. Similar to a job interview, each client decides for themselves what qualifications they would like to see in a personal chef.
Having been a personal chef since 2012, I have been working on my cooking skills since fifth grade, but never attended a culinary school. I have never had a client turn me away because of a lack of formal education in this field. As well, no client has ever asked if I was a member of any culinary association.
There actually is no certification needed to start a personal chef business. You will need to obtain a business license (also called a tax certificate in some areas) through your city/county Clerk's office. Some areas also require a health safety certification.
I'll provide business guidance on how to price your services, how to obtain new clients, and logistics of a meal prep business.
A personal chef certification is not offered because it has no legal merit. Any organization offering a personal chef certification is really just providing a certificate of completion from their courses.
There is false information everywhere.
Private individuals are hiring you as a personal chef, not companies or institutions. When someone calls to set up a consultation about hiring you as their personal chef, all they're thinking about is, "how can you help me?" They just want to know if you’re able to help them with their problem. Potential clients are thinking about menu offerings you can provide them for meal prep. They’re not at all wondering where you went to school, how long you’ve been in business, or what your liability insurance covers. Their only concern is how you can help them.
Regardless of your culinary education or business experience, there are clients for every background, experienced or novice. Everyone had to start somewhere and everyone has a first day in business.
The following are not requirements of becoming a personal chef. One or more may be helpful, but are not required.
I've created a PDF of step-by-step in becoming a personal chef. Get it now
You can't decide today that you're going to be a personal chef, then start tomorrow full-time. First, you'll need to build the foundation of the business by checking out the competition, learn to price your services, and understand the logistics of running a meal prep business. Building the foundation will probably take about 30 days. During this time, you can continue to work at your current job to pay the bills.
Next, you'll begin marketing your services and start accepting clients. It's suggested to start with just one or two clients, perfecting your meal prep system over 30 to 60 days of practice.
Now you're ready to begin getting more leads into your business and ramp up to full-time with the goal of finally quitting your current job. As an alternative, you can choose to only work with one to two clients as supplemental income while keeping your current job. Understanding how marketing and advertising works is a key skill in determining how fast your business will grow.
Your income is truly up to you as you can choose to work many hours or few hours, hire additional help to make more income, or take on larger scale events that provide a higher service fee.
I suspect the large salary range of these statistics has more to do with the number of hours each chef chooses to work rather than salary based on experience or education. These websites also lump private and personal chefs in one category rather than separating the two careers.
Most important to mention is that personal chefs have control over their own income and hours. Work when you want, as much or little as you want. Choose to offer personal chef services as a side job or full-time.
Obviously none of us are fortune tellers, but I anticipate the near future will be a little more of the same atmosphere that's happening now.
Meanwhile, restaurants are being allowed to partially open in some areas. Do you think people will enjoy going out to the eat same way we did just a few months ago? We'll be welcomed to a restaurant smelling of bleach by a server wearing mask and gloves presenting us with a disposable paper menu while hoping that none of the guests in the restaurant have to sneeze. Relaxing over a meal in this type of environment just won't be the same.
I'm imagining the demand for personal chefs will increase. Families will welcome a personal chef to help with weekday meal preparations after a full day of Zoom conferences and child meltdowns. They'll begin having small deck parties with other couples coming over to join them and would love the idea of a personal chef preparing a meal instead of visiting a restaurant like they normally would on Saturday night.
The Personal Chef Resource Library has recently been created. It includes more than a dozen ways to get new leads into your business. Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, there's a lead strategy for every personality type.
I'm Virginia Stockwell, a personal chef since 2005. Before starting my personal chef business, I worked extensively in numerous high end catering companies and country clubs. I took notes all along the way!
When I chose the path to become a personal chef, there was no one to help me. I couldn't find the answers to any of my questions online. I would spend hours Googling, trying out different phrases and questions, but just could not find what I needed online. I eventually learned through the trial and error of working with clients. I learned what worked and what didn't worked, making numerous mistakes along the way. I'll share those mistakes and help you fast track your way to success quicker than the years it took me to build my personal chef business.
Now, the question, how can I help you?
If you have just one quick question, feel free to send it my way by clicking here.
When someone calls to set up a consultation about hiring you as their personal chef, all they're thinking about is, "how can you help me?" They just want to know if you’re able to help them with their problem. Potential clients are thinking about menu offerings you can provide them for meal prep. They’re not at all wondering where you went to school, how long you’ve been in business, or what your liability insurance covers. Their only concern is how you can help them. Regardless of your culinary education or business experience, there are clients for every background, experienced or novice. Everyone had to start somewhere and everyone has a first day in business.
updated Aug 6, 2020
This is the #1 question I'm asked and now available in a course to take at your own pace. Personal chefs do not price by the hour, do not have food costs, and do not not price like restaurant chefs. You'll learn the psychology and calculations that go into pricing your personal chef services.