There are so many different ways to craft a career out of your culinary skills.
Which one will work for you? It's even possible you may dabble in more than one in your lifetime.
The personal versus private chef is the most confusing to people. In summary, a private chef works for just one client while a personal chef has many clients.
As a private chef, you are an employee of your client and may receive benefits such as paid vacation time or health insurance. Sure, it's great that you have "for sure" income each month, but the drawback is that you are still an employee and lack the freedom of being your own boss.
The contract between you and your employer will lay out the terms of the job to include days of the week you will work and how long you are guaranteed a job. Even though a contract...
Is this you:
May I offer a checklist of action steps that would answer this question? I want to give you a pre-launch business strategy.
But don’t take my word for it! Put it to the test and see what the checklist tells you.
If you're a cook or chef wanting to start and build a successful personal chef business so you have control over your own hours and income, it's helpful to have a starting point. What do you do first? How do you know if this business is right for you before...
It's completely normal to be nervous your first few dinner parties.
It’s okay to be nervous the first few times you execute a dinner party. You're often walking into a strange kitchen, meeting your client for the first time, and expected to serve dinner at a precise time using appliances you may not be familiar with.
There are a lot of steps involved in planning a dinner party and ensuring the food is ready on time. It can be intimidating, but after you’ve had a few successful events, you hardly get nervous anymore.
What is a typical dinner party?
The aspects of a dinner party are the cocktail hour, main course and dessert. Because this is your business, you get to run it how you'd like to do it, but for my dinner parties, I have a package offering one-hour long cocktail hour that includes two different appetizers. The main dish includes one main protein dish plus two sides followed by dessert. If the host would like to add additional dishes, there is an added fee....
What are the worst case scenarios while cooking in a client's home? What could go wrong?!
First, let's talk about stress. Stress is not welcome in the kitchen. What’s the point of stress? It’s not helping anything. Freaking out over the fact that the family used up all the olive oil at breakfast isn't going to make the olive oil appear. Being solution oriented is helpful, while stressing out about a situation is not helpful.
Missing Key Ingredients
A client responds to your grocery list and says they have flour for your macaroni and cheese recipe. When you arrive, however, the kids went on a baking spree yesterday and used all the flour up.
What do you do? It’s time to improvise or head to the store.
This is going to happen a lot. You may have taken inventory of their spices and kept great records, but upon arrival learn they just made a big pot of chili and used all the oregano and cumin even though they've never cooked anything for...
You've likely set up a radius around a particular neighborhood as your service area. This is the ideal area of your community that you'd like to accept jobs.
Depending on the style of community you live in, your service radius could be as small as 15 miles or as wide as 45 miles. What happens if someone asks for a job outside your service radius? Should you charge a travel fee?
This is actually a business decision and something to think now. You could have a firm "I only travel to this area" policy or you could be open to traveling for hours. Time and money are not the only factors here, however. You have to first think about the safety of your clients. Are you able to pack up a large quantity of groceries and travel for three hours?
Once you've established this criteria, you can be open to the next question. "If I do accept a job three hours away, would the client be willing to pay for my travel time?" Just because a client appears to have money to spend doesn't mean...
It wouldn't be fair to generalize any statement starting with "all personal chef" this or that. That said, there are a few qualities that would help a personal chef excel in his or her business over others without these qualities.
First, it sure does help to be personable. You've probably met or even have friends who have said "I don't like people". Truly, that just means they don't have good communication skills and have difficulty expressing themselves or understanding the expressions of others.
Enjoyment in Helping
If you don't enjoy helping others or have patience when it comes to working with people, you may not do well as a personal chef. Our profession is all about meeting people in their homes and making them feel comfortable with the fact that the chef is going to likely be all alone in their house, often having access to door codes and other private information. Making others feel at ease is often something that comes naturally to those who enjoy helping...
If you work in any kitchen setting cooking for the public, you’re currently wearing a mask while you work. My guess is that we’re going to have to wear this mask for a while. A face covering plus glasses is a fog nightmare. Next, add headphones to the mix, argh.
Do I have to?
The mask takes away from the sense of smell. I can't smell when my almonds are done toasting. I can't smell when the cake is almost ready to come out of the oven. The mask takes this away from me.
Argh. Heck yeah it's inconvenient.
Well, here's what OSHA says: “Select and implement appropriate engineering controls (e.g., physical barriers/shields to separate workers, enhanced ventilation), and administrative controls (e.g., staggering work shifts, limiting breakroom capacity, practicing social distancing, replacing in-person meetings with video-conference calls, ensuring workers wear appropriate face coverings, such as cloth face masks, to contain respiratory...
Darn the fake news I read...
Myth #1 Personal Chefs Work for the Rich and Famous
Reading headline news, you would think that all personal chefs work for celebrities and the ultra-rich. I suppose it does make for good clickbait having a celebrity name in the title of an article. In real life, however, the people that hire personal chefs are those that value time over money.
Most of my clients are average moms and dads with school aged children. They work all day on Zoom and homeschooling their kids then are delighted to have meals waiting for them in the refrigerator. They value their time and are willing to exchange money for time by having someone come into their home and prepare meals for them. The average client of a personal chef is definitely not a celebrity or ultra-rich.
Myth #2 Personal Chef Clients Don’t Know How to Cook
Most people know how to clean a house, but housekeepers are in constant demand. People that hire housekeepers value their time...
A good business owner knows that tips are not always part of offering a service. There are those who offer generous tips and there are those who never give tips. Just because your client appears to have money to spend doesn't mean you're going to receive a tip.
If you're going into a job expecting a tip, you're setting yourself up for potential disappointment. You're in the service industry and offering a service in exchange for money. You shared with the client already how much your service is going to cost, so if you feel you deserve more, you should charge more. Offering to do additional services during the event does not always mean the client translates that into offering a tip.
Meal Prep Services: I can share with you in the history of the thousands of meal prep sessions I've performed, there has been maybe two families ever that left a tip at the end of meal prep service. Even if the person I was cooking for was given a gift certificate, they did not even think to...
I'm often surprised at items that some client kitchens don’t have like a cheese grater, citrus press, or liquid measuring cup. For this reason, I bring along a small box of kitchen gear...but it wasn't always like this.
When I first started, I would pack specifically for the client’s kitchen I was visiting. If I knew the house didn’t have a good non-stick skillet, I would bring that, my favorite cooking spoon, and of course knives. As my clientele built up and for ease of packing each morning, I now have a basic checklist of kitchen gear that fits into a small plastic bin brought to every appointment.
There is much discussion about knives out there. Everyone has a different style, but I’m a minimalist and use my basic chef’s knife for everything plus a small paring knife for cutting small things like strawberries or deveining shrimp.
I also always bring my own stack of dishtowels,...