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What is the average income of a personal chef?

Your income is truly up to you as you can choose to work many hours or few hours, hire additional help or work alone, accept small events or large events. You can work full-time, part-time or seasonal. It's your business so you have control over your own hours and income.

Personal chefs are  not paid by the hour and instead charge by the job, so do not draw a true salary or hourly wage. Meal prep often runs $150 to $400 depending on your area, experience and number of servings. This is for one cook session for a client that is often weekly. In my business, I schedule two meal prep clients per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Monday through Thursday are the most popular days for meal prep.

Meal prep income can be supplemented with weekend dinner parties or cooking classes of which prices vary greatly. In my personal chef business, the average size of a dinner party is ten guests and I charge $700 which does not include the cost of food. Most dinner party...

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How long does it take to become a personal chef?

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, learning to price your services, and understanding 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 work is a key skill in determining how fast your business will...

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What about websites stating that a formal education is required to be a personal chef?

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 or their event. 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.

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How do I become certified as a personal chef?

There actually is no certification needed to start a personal chef business. Following completion of my courses, I do not offer any personal chef certification because it has no legal merit and truthfully, your clients will not care. Any organization offering a personal chef certification is really just providing a certificate of completion from their courses and calling it a certification. 

I'll provide business guidance on how to price your services, how to obtain new clients, and logistics of a meal prep and dinner party business. I'll show you how to create a strong branding and marketing foundation to show your clients you are a professional business.

You'll also 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.

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Why can't I just cook out of my house and deliver food?

In order to cook out of your home, you'll need to a permit from your local health department. Unless your kitchen is built as a commercial kitchen in new construction, it is not likely to pass - pets may not enter, open kitchens would need to be walled off, a separate handwashing and mopping sinks are required, proper ventilation is needed, separate cooling refrigerators and three-compartment dishwashing is required, etc. Proper commercial kitchens can cost around $100,000 to install.


The health department would require audits of your processes from purchasing inventory to storage, preparation, cooling and delivery. You would need special equipment to transport from your home to the client's home to keep food at the proper temperature. You would need a special area to store food inventory and storage containers following health department guidelines.


Cooking in client homes, no health department review is required. There is also no overhead since your client is paying...

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What culinary education or skills are needed to become a personal chef?

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.

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What’s the difference between a Personal Chef and a Private Chef?

private chef works for just one client - a group, family, couple or individual. He/she/they is an employee, often on salary. The client controls their hours and income.

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. 

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What is a personal chef?

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. It's up to you if you'd like to add private dinner parties and small events to your calendar as well.

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Is overwhelm keeping you from your personal chef business?


You’re ready to begin your personal chef business. You have all the culinary skills needed, but something is stalling you.


It’s the 200 questions running around in your mind!

  • How do I go about pricing my services?
  • How do I know who in my community is ready, willing and able to hire me for my services?
  • How do I choose a business name that screams success?
  • How do I go about getting a business license?
  • Where do I find clients?


Back in 2012 when I started my personal chef business, I Googled for hours, months on end trying to find these answers. There’s just nothing out there that gives definitive answers.


I had to learn it all myself through trial and error. I made so many mistakes and don’t want to see you making those same business errors. I strive to share everything I've learned over the years.


How much can I make as a personal chef?

Start-up costs run about $500 to $1,000. There are very few businesses with such a low...

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What is a personal chef uniform?


When I first started my personal chef business, I had no idea what I was doing as I had no mentor to answer my questions. I couldn't find any help online to basic questions, like what should I wear to meal prep sessions in client homes?


I knew that it had to be some sort of uniform, meaning that I would wear the same style at every cook session. I chose a black t-shirt and jeans. Looking back, wearing street clothes was not showcasing my business in a professional way.


Attending a Chamber of Commerce networking event, I saw many of the members wearing polo shirts with a logo. "What a great idea," I thought. It seems so obvious that a professional shirt with company logo would be part of a uniform, but truly when first starting a business, you don't know what you don't know.


I researched and learned that company shirts are rather inexpensive and printed clothing could include an apron as well.


If you're looking for a brand recommendation, I...

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