I'm often asked how to go about scheduling a typical week as a brand new personal chef. How do you go about starting a new career as a personal chef if you already have a full-time job?
As a full-time Personal Chef, this is my schedule
I personally schedule my week with cook sessions Monday through Friday at 9am and 1:30pm. I go to client homes for about 2.5 to 3 hours per cook session and fit in grocery shopping at lunch time. Thursdays, I'll do desk work such as answering emails, bookkeeping, etc. Wednesday evenings, I actually work later in the evening to be able to send out menus for the following week. Throughout the week, I’ll also fit in fifteen minutes here or there to write up grocery lists.
Currently, I'm working Monday through Friday cook sessions with the occasional dinner party. I don’t do many dinner parties anymore because I’m already working Monday through Friday. When I first started, however, and didn’t have a full week, maybe I was only working Monday/Tuesday or Monday through Wednesday, I would book Saturdays or Friday evenings with dinner parties, about three to six a month.
Will you offer dinner parties AND meal prep services?
Dinner parties are a lot more work because there's a lot more planning. The timeline has to be perfected to ensure guests are receiving their meal on time. As well, there is a lot of hauling kitchen equipment and serving platters from one place to another. Chefs like to call it a moving company because there sure are a lot of things to move from your house to your car, your car to their house. As well, there are a lot more groceries than usual during an event. Of course, you are getting paid more for events, but it comes down to time versus money with added stress.
How will you juggle your full-time job with this new personal chef career?
If you have a full-time job already, you might be wondering, “how am I going to go about starting my personal chef business when I already have a full-time job?” If you work Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, you have to be able to fit personal chef cook sessions into your schedule either weekday evenings or offer Saturday dinner parties.
How will your preferred schedule fit into your potential client's schedule?
To create a personal chef business model, first think about who you want your clients to be. If it’s a family and it's in the evening, you will be in the kitchen at the same time the client is attempting to prepare that evening's dinner. Meanwhile, you’re trying to make dinner for the next three days for them. It may get a little crowded and crazy in there. When the kids start bringing in their toys and they’re excited there’s a visitor, you can’t be as efficient as you normally would. You have to take into account the stress of all the chaos going on in the kitchen during regular meal time while you’re trying to prepare meals for the next few days. If you can handle it, give it a shot.
Have you considered quitting your full-time job?
When first starting out and have a full-time job Monday through Friday, perhaps begin with just dinner parties. They’re usually Saturday nights. I do wish there were more dinner parties Friday evening, but it seems everyone wants Saturday nights. If you can dedicate your Saturday nights to trying out these dinner parties, then you might enjoy doing that as a side job.
My opinion is that if you really want personal chef to be your main career, you might have to let that full-time job Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm go in exchange for something that will help you transition into a new career as a personal chef.
This is how I made the transition into a full-time Personal Chef career
When I first considered beginning a new path as a personal chef, I began by picking up numerous part-time jobs in the food industry. I started working for two different catering companies. One catering company worked a lot with fraternities and sororities so we did mostly luncheons Wednesday through Friday. I also worked for another catering company on Saturdays and Sundays at hundreds of weddings. As well, I squeezed in a few hours working as a barista early in the morning.
I took on numerous side jobs just to get my bills paid, though always keeping Monday through Wednesday mornings available. I ultimately wanted my business model to be solely Monday through Friday during business hours. I didn’t want to do a lot of events on the weekends and preferred to concentrate on just those five days. I believe I continued with side jobs for about 1.5 years before I was able to build up my business enough to allow the side jobs to drift away.
How serious are you about starting a new career?
If you’re really serious, you should make yourself available on the days you ultimately want as your business model. What days do you want to work? Pretend you have nothing else going on. Your bank account is comfortable and you want to be a personal chef. What days would you like to work? What hours would you like to work? How much would you like to make?
Work on your big picture. From there, break it down and based on those goals and ask yourself how you get there. It may require your letting go of that full-time job and taking on several part-time jobs to accommodate this new career transition.
As always, it’s your business and you should run it however you'd like. Maybe being a personal chef is just a job for you or even a side job. It doesn’t have to be a career. When I entered this business, I anticipated it being a career, so I started off my setting my schedule up this particular way.
Best Wishes & Much Success to You, Virginia Stockwell