Here's the latest article from the Personal Chef site at BellaOnline.com.
Do you have a Personal Chef?
Not such a silly question nowadays. Many working families have all their weekday meals prepared and stored in their own homes by Personal Chefs.
This is not quite the same as the celebrity or A list star whose Personal Chef travels everywhere with them. These are the people who pay someone to come once or twice a week to cook great family meals so they do not have to buy in ready made and frozen foods from sources they have no control over.
Personally I have several clients where I go for the morning or afternoon and prepare 7 good meals for 4 plus a cake and or loaf of bread. It’s just great to get something home-cooked ready for the children when they come home from school or for the family mealtime in the evening without having to rush about after work struggling to prepare and cook and fight with homework on top. Also shopping for food is cut to the minimum and we can do a small shop at the weekends for something special. Weekend cooking becomes fun because we are not jaded by the chore of it all week.
It is very cost effective if one considers the time element of shopping, driving, parking, prepping and cooking…let alone clearing up and putting everything away.
A good experienced chef works quickly and neatly. It’s as if the fairies have been and left a fridge full of meals and the kitchen shines like a new pin. The house smells of lovely baking and the cake on the worktop is still warm! That’s the way some of my clients describe the experience.
I get to know my client families well and see the children grow…quite a number have new babies now so that can be fun too!
I really love my work. It used to be hard to get everything right on time and cleared away but over the years the experience has honed my skills and timing and I am in and out in no time. I hate to repeat recipes too often but some things become ‘favourites’ and get cooked time and time again.
Suppliers will temp me with real special offers of new things because I am not a bulk buyer…for instance I get a lot of samples when suppliers are given them to try, especially fish and meat cuts. As they are not actually part of the catalogue yet I get to use them and report back. We had the, now common, lamb rumps and I was given a double pack of 24 to try out and report on quality etc. I paid wholesale less 20% I can pass the lower cost of some luxuries on to the client this way…and give them and me a new experience.
Do you think you would like to be a Personal Chef?
I get so many emails and inquiries weekly from people who want this. They are all different. In the UK it is usually a young chef who wishes to escape the restaurant kitchen regime and believe me, that is the hardest transition of all. The best Personal Chefs have private service experience. They can cope with the idiosyncrasies of different clients whims without taking anything too personally. Also they are used to working in the confines of a domestic kitchen, which, however large, modern or well equipped does not match a restaurant kitchen in any way.
It takes some dedication to stick at this through the early stages and there will be some jobs that make you wish you had never started. After a while you get your advertising and promotional material right and the customers that suit your style are more regular.
Once you have found your niche don’t go chasing other areas of your profession that you have no experience or real knowledge of. Even if the money for luxury dinner parties looks fantastic…if you get it wrong it will be costing you money!
Never enter this profession without at least three full budgets worth of cash tucked away. If people pay by cheque it takes time to clear…you do not want to be in the position of winning a good client and have no money to finance the ingredients! Things like that can happen when you are busy and you have a few slow payers.
Once you feel confident it may be a good idea to get yourself a colleague so you can double up if there are two inquiries for one day…or one can be chef and the other act as butler if you have a big party or function. If this works and you are getting a lot of work you can then take a course on butling. It is well worth it because a good butler earns a fortune!
There are only so many weekends in the year and as dinner parties occur mainly then you can charge a higher rate than you do for the weekday family meals. This keeps the weekly clients happy and loyal. After all they are your bread and butter. The big functions are your cream.
I hope you will enjoy the tips and stories that I will be publishing weekly here, for clients and chefs because both are equally important.
I spent a good many years promoting Personal Chefs here in the UK. From the days in the early 1990s to now when we have several thousands. Personal Chefs in the UK has now become a household name and you can win a chef on a potato pack at the local store or from a magazine promoting Cranberry juice. Everyone has the chance to enjoy the Personal Chef Experience.
Best wishes from
A dinner Party goes to plan The Dessert and Cheese
Part two of Dinner Party Plan UK style
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Fay Olinsky, Personal Chef Editor
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