Does your dream job involve cooking, flexible scheduling, and the ability to determine your own income? Do you love spending time in the kitchen? If so, starting a personal chef business may be perfect for you.
A personal chef is one who, instead of working in a professional kitchen for a restaurant, works for individuals, usually in their homes. While some people can afford their own full-time private chef, in recent years, personal chefs have responded to the time crunch everyone faces and provide home-cooked meals for their clients at a fraction of the cost of a private chef A personal chef shops for and cooks food at their client’s home, leaving a week’s worth of delicious meals packaged and ready to reheat and eat.
Typically, a personal chef plans a menu based on the client’s preferences and needs. You will need a good recipe collection and sample menus for your clients to choose from, and the flexibility to incorporate their “favorites” into your plan. While the most common meal prepared by personal chefs is dinner, you may be asked to create breakfasts and lunches, too.
Once you and your client have determined a menu, you shop for the food needed to create the meals. Many personal chefs charge a per hour fee that includes the cost of food, but some charge separately for the food.
The chef prepares the food in the client’s home on a pre-determined “cooking day”, leaving it packaged in the refrigerator or freezer, with instructions on how to handle the final preparations. Plus, they clean up the kitchen after they are done. Many leave fresh flowers to welcome their clients, and some even prepare special treats for the family pets. These added personal touches can be a great signature item.
You will need to be able to work within a budget to create menu plans that are both palate-pleasing and cost-conscious. A working knowledge of nutrition will help as some clients may have special dietary needs, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and food allergies.
You will need a good “traveling” chef kit with knives, thermometers, timers, utensils, pots and pans, cleaning supplies and anything else you might need. Also, a good supply of attractive storage containers for both freezing and refrigerating food is necessary. Most warehouse clubs and even discount superstores have these readily available, but finding a good chef supply store in your area can help both with costs and with finding uncommon items
You do not necessarily need any formal training, although experience and references will help in getting clients. Working in a professional kitchen or even apprenticing with a personal chef can help you gain skills and experience.
Since you are preparing meals in a private home, you will not need health department inspections, although if your health department offers a food handling safety course, it would be a good idea to take it. You will need to check with local authorities regarding business licenses and permits. You also want to talk with your insurance agent about specific insurance needs, particularly liability, property damage and perhaps even loss of income insurance.
A personal chef’s income depends on several factors, but typical income is around $60,000 per year. Many personal chefs also offer other services, such as private party catering or in-home cooking classes to supplement their income. You can also choose to “specialize” in a certain type of cooking (ethnic, special diets, organic, etc.) if you wish, which can be quite lucrative in certain markets.
Click Here to Discover How to Become a Caterer or Personal Chef
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Become a Personal Chef, An Introduction to the Industry by Brian T. Konig is an introductory primer on the basics of being a personal chef.