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Should I say no if they have a nut allergy?


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 about five years old 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...

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Freezing Meals as a Personal Chef



I do 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 (an 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. Obviously you do not likely have this type of equipment readily available at your client's home. You can, however, perform a method of flash freezing at home. 


Placing two pints of frozen...

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Can you please everyone with your food?


You may go to your personal chef appointment thinking "yay, a new client" but what if that new client isn't what you're expecting?


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. 


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 meat or dairy). He personally "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...

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The Personal Chef Business Plan


Years ago, I found myself combing the internet for hours, perusing various business plans. I was trying to figure out what needs to be included in my own personal chef business plan that I was about to launch. Turns out, it was a total waste of hours that lead to weeks then months of procrastination.


At this point in my career, ten years later, looking back at all that planning, I would call this "analysis paralysis". This is a phrase that describes when overthinking a situation delays ever getting started. 


When you find yourself planning and planning and planning, continuing to gather information, then never taking action in getting started what you were planning in the first place, you've fallen into analysis paralysis.


Yes, I fell into the trap of thinking I needed to create a detailed business plan before starting my personal chef business. What tax structure am I going to create? What are my income goals for the year? What...

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Should I offer discounts in my personal chef business?



When first starting your personal chef business, it's not unusual for your friends and family to ask you to offer your cooking services for free or at a discount. They may even package it as "getting your name out there."


Decide now how you will handle discount requests in your business.


You might be tempted when you first start out in business to offer your services for free or maybe even at a discount.


When I first started in business, I had a friend who owned a hair salon and was having an art opening. She thought it would be a great opportunity for those who had never been to her business to visit the salon while perusing works of art. She asked if I would be interested in catering the event.


Because I was new in business, I was extremely excited about catering this event and wanted to make it extra special. I spent a lot of time researching interesting appetizers, probably more time than usual since I was so new. I created a fantastic...

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What's the difference between a personal chef and a private chef?



Today’s question is, “what’s the difference between a personal chef and a private chef?” This is actually one of my pet peeves - when people call me a private chef.

They’re wrong. I’m a personal chef!


Private Chef 

A private chef works for just one family, one individual or one couple. They have one employer. A person has hired them, paid them a salary, and most likely also pays out benefits. They have set hours or perhaps flexible hours.

Hours are different for every private chef and are negotiated via a contract that includes guidelines on how the client and employee will work together. The private chef may also travel with the client occasionally.

In summary, a private chef works for just one client, often one family.


Personal Chef

A personal chef works for numerous families. I usually have between 12 and 16 families at a time and have my company legally structured in a way that I'm paying myself a salary each month. I...

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What stage of the personal chef business are you in?


What stage of your personal chef business are you in?


Sometimes you’re in two stages at once or may choose to stay in one stage forever.

The three stages of business

  • Startup
  • Monetization
  • Scale


You're likely currently in the start-up phase where you’re taking the time to invest in yourself and understand how to become an entrepreneur in your new personal chef business.


The monetization stage is when you’re making a profit and learning the most effective ways to market your particular business model to which your community responds. 


At stage three, you’re ready to expand into new opportunities to add to your personal chef business. You may consider franchising or certifying others to become personal chefs under your brand. 


Stage 1: Startup 

When in the startup stage, it’s easy to get stuck perfecting your logo or website when you should be concentrating on getting...

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I didn't attend culinary school


If you're having confidence issues calling yourself a chef, consider the fact that there is no mention of culinary school in these definitions.

  • Oxford Dictionary, "a professional cook"
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "a skilled cook who manages the kitchen"


Did you know that these celebrity chefs did not attend culinary school?

  • Gordon Ramsay
  • Ina Garten
  • Guy Fieri
  • Martha Stewart
  • Ree Drummond
  • Rachel Ray
  • Tom Colicchio
  • Lidia Bastianich
  • Mario Batali


I honestly get more negative feedback on this statement than any other content I share. Chefs who have attended culinary schools get offended and will send messages stating that culinary school chefs worked hard to get to where they are and it's insulting for just anyone to call themselves a chef.


I didn't say "just anyone" could call themselves a chef. Also, do you think that the people on that list above didn't work hard to get to where they're at?


Culinary school is not the only place to receive a kitchen...

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How long can I work under the table before making my personal chef business legal?


Question: How long can I work under the table before making my personal chef business legal?


You're killing me here. You should never work under the table when doing something as risky as cooking food for people other than your family.


You MUST protect yourself with liability insurance.

  • What if you're cooking at the client's home and burn the house down?
  • What if your client has a lethal allergy and you forgot to read the label on the mustard container to see if it contained the allergen?
  • What if you cut off your fingers, don't have medical insurance, and can't work for a year?


You MUST be a true professional and run your business while holding a business license or tax certificate. A business caught operating without a license could be forced to cease operations. In some instances, a business might have to wait out a mandatory probationary period or worse, a city can refuse to grant a license to the business.


When running a service...

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What part-time job could I do while building my personal chef business?


In case you don't already know, you can’t decide to become a personal chef today, then start full-time tomorrow. 


Not only do you have to work at building a clientele, but you also need time to build up systems of efficiency in your business. 


Part of building your business could be gaining experience and education by working with other food service companies as you get your personal chef business off the ground. Of course you could work in restaurants, but have you considered applying at local catering companies or banquet halls? Caterers often have a high staff turnover, so if you can show up and become a reliable, active employee who wants to learn more, you will do well. 


I must emphasize that working in the kitchen is not the only place to learn from another food service company. 


Being a personal chef is not just about cooking well. Being a personal chef is also about offering a service....

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