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(Jan 24, 2021) Should I use my credit card or my client's credit card for groceries?

This was a question that stumped me for a while before starting my personal chef business. I have to admit that it may have even stalled beginning my business as I had no clue how to deal with the groceries and didn't want to show up without some sort of plan.

How do groceries get paid and how much money do I have to save up to accommodate this huge expense? 

I started my business with maybe $500 reserves in my bank account, not likely enough to cover more than two to three client's grocery bills. The average purchase for a family of four when I'm preparing three complete dinners is around $150, more if they order filet mignon and less if they're vegetarian.

While some personal chefs ask for a grocery deposit upfront, I chose to go a different route. With a credit card line of of $1,000 (which is the minimum recommended to start your personal chef business with), I would purchase client groceries and have them reimburse me on the same day. I would then immediately pay the...

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(Jan 17, 2021) 10 Mistakes Personal Chefs Make on Their Websites

 

There are ten mistakes most chefs make on their websites. I see these over and over. Here is my list of the ten mistakes to avoid when creating a chef website.

 

10 Mistakes to Avoid when creating your personal chef website

The biggest one is the landing page. When creating websites, I see chefs often putting information about themselves on the landing page. Think about the potential client looking online for personal chef services in your area. When they click on your website, do you know what they’re thinking? “What can you do for me?” They’re truly not interested in learning the chef’s background. The chef’s background should be there, but on a different page than the landing page. The landing page really needs to be all about the potential client and what you can do for them.

Use more photos than words

The second mistake is being super wordy on the website so it reads like a novel. You want to have one to three lines describing your...

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(Jan 10, 2021) What are the start-up costs of a personal chef business?

 

You can really startup your personal chef business for about $500.

The first two things you must have before going to a client’s home are a business license and liability insurance.

For a personal chef business license, the fees are different in each city, county or state so I can’t provide an exact number of the cost. In my county, I paid about $150 to start then renew at $100 a year.

There is also no set procedure to obtain a business license. For example, in my area I had to apply for a home office meaning I had to agree that I’m not going to have clients or employees visit my home (which would take up neighborhood parking) and I’m not going to put a sign in the yard saying, “hi, I’m in business!” The home office permit was about $15, which was really a zoning permit.

Next, I left Zoning and went to a different government office, the Clerk's office, to obtain a fictitious name permit for about $15 more. I provided them with the name of my...

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(Jan 3, 2021) New Year, New You! This is the year of your Personal Chef Business

It's a brand new year! It's the time for fresh starts, new ideas, innovation and makeovers. You signed up to learn more about becoming a personal chef. It's time to get out of the research phase and into taking action.

Based on a survey over the span of two months, these are some of the responses received from the question, "What's your main struggle in starting or progressing in your personal chef business?"

  • "Finding clients" 
  • "Marketing"
  • "Advertising"
  • "Marketing and getting clients"
  • "Making connections to offer my services"
  • "Getting clients"
  • "Building clientele"
  • "Clients"
  • "Booking new clients"
  • "Getting more clients"
  • "Finding a client"
  • "Finding consistent clientele"

Obviously you see a theme here. These cooks and chefs are struggling with the question, "how am I going to get clients?" and using that as an excuse to not begin their business.

Try a New Approach - New Year, New Approach!

This is the wrong question to be asking, "how am I going to get clients?" Instead, the...

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(Dec 27, 2020) How do I price my services as a Personal Chef?

I find some chefs not starting their business because they're not sure how to go about charging. Is that you too? 

It's the most common question I'm asked, "how much should I charge for my meal prep services?"

More in-depth calculations of pricing your service is available in the course Pricing for Personal Chefs. You'll learn the psychology of pricing your services, exactly how to calculate your worth, then perform several practice calculations so you'll be ready when the next request for a dinner party or meal prep comes in.

How do I price my services as a Personal Chef?

Before addressing this question, let's clarify personal chef services versus catering services. As a personal chef, you’d bring all the groceries to a client’s house and cook everything there. In catering or meal delivery service, you would be working out of an approved commercial kitchen, then deliver to the client’s home.

The health department's job is protecting public health. They can't...

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(Dec 20, 2020) What would it take to turn my home kitchen into a commercial kitchen?

A commercial kitchen is one that meets the fire, health and business codes for your area. You cannot cook out of your home kitchen then deliver or have clients pick up from your home without first having it approved by the local health department.

As a personal chef, you would be cooking out of your clients' kitchens, but just out of curiosity...what would it take to convert your home kitchen into a health department approved kitchen?

Requirements vary for every area, but the following are generally considered standard. Of course it would be ideal to create the kitchen from new construction, but oftentimes, this is not reasonable. So, what does it take to turn your home kitchen into a commercial kitchen?

  • Exhaust hood: This can be the most $$ part of the kitchen and can require remodeling of ductwork and fire suppression equipment. Your standard home with an above the range exhaust hood is not likely going to be powerful enough to pass a health safety inspection.
  • Refrigeration:...
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(Dec 13, 2020) How do I move my personal chef business into a commercial space?

When your schedule is maxed out with clients and catered dinners, you may consider moving into a commercial kitchen one or two days a week. There are often plenty of restaurants or community centers (church or fire department kitchens) that are willing to sublet their kitchen to you. They appreciate the additional income and you will appreciate not locking yourself into a lengthy contract.

It is not suggested to START your personal chef business with a commercial kitchen as without a client base to pay for that kitchen, you're doing the hope and pray method of starting a small business. Working in client homes, there is no overhead, so if you don't build your client base from the start, you're not simultaneously losing money with commercial kitchen payments.

It's likely there are going to be only a few choices for your new commercial kitchen space, so you may not have the luxury of being picky. If you do have a variety to choose from, however, you're better off choosing the one...

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(Dec 6, 2020) How do I handle someone with severe allergies?

It's truly not unusual these days to encounter allergies so severe that the client requests you not bring any kitchen equipment into their home. They don't want to take the risk of any of your tools having touched an allergen in the past and possibly tracking it into their home and food. Even the smallest food particle could be fatal to those with severe allergies.

One of my first clients was a family with a young boy under the age of five that had severe allergies. The list of "no" foods was two pages long. I shook my head at the client and shared with her that I was afraid to cook for them and that it would be too risky. It actually took the client to assure me that I was going to be excellent at helping their family and that I "must" take this job.

Looking back, it was fearful in the beginning, but truthfully it felt like one of my biggest accomplishments as a personal chef was making this family happy with food. I cooked probably fifty dinner parties for them since they were...

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(Nov 29, 2020) Freezing Meals as a Personal Chef

I receive a lot of questions about freezing foods at meal prep cook sessions. What foods can be frozen? Do clients often request a month of meals at a time to include freezing some of the meals?

I find that the clients that hire you weekly will rarely request freezer meals. That said, it's a fantastic upsell to offer "freezer add-ons" that could be a batch of meatballs, fresh fruit smoothie prep, or individual lasagnas. This could be in addition (and additional service fee) to the three to five dinners you're already preparing at the cook session.

Commercially frozen vegetables are flash-frozen, which a process of freezing food in just a few hours via cryogenic temperatures or through direct contact with liquid nitrogen at −196 °C. You can, however, perform a method of flash freezing at home. 

Placing two pints of frozen fruit into a freezer bag will cause them to freeze in one giant lump. Later, when you want to make a smoothie and need only a half cup of fruit,...

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(Nov 22, 2020) Can you please everyone with your food?

Most of the time, when going on a consultation, you have no idea what you're walking into. You don't yet have an idea what expectations this client has of your services. You may go to the appointment thinking "oh boy, a new client" but what if that new client isn't what you're expecting?

I can recall one particular consultation with working parents and three teen children. The parents were too exhausted to cook dinner at the end of the workday and were looking for help.

My consultation was with the husband. Upon speaking with him, I learned that the wife was vegan (no dairy). He "loved a good steak". The kids were early in their teenage years and were never pushed to eat vegetables, preferring chicken fingers or macaroni and cheese every night. One of the kids had a nut allergy and the husband was celiac, meaning no gluten.

After learning all this information, I shared with him that I don't think I could come up with an interesting weekly menu that would satisfy all...

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