A private chef, personal chef or private cook is a fulfilling career that has become more and more popular over the years with the sharing economy. It’s an attractive alternative for professional cooks who wish to get out of the kitchen and let their creativity shine. Personal chefs organize meals for special occasions, dinner parties, weekly nutrition plans, private residences and much more. They can even travel to fulfill special requests from clients.
Being a personal chef is a great way to share your passion with people and take part in major events in their lives. If you are considering this career path, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we discuss the steps you need to become a personal chef as well as the necessary skills and qualities. We also give you insider tips and answer some questions you may have (salary, etc.)
Skill isn't everything in the culinary world. If you are a culinary student or an aspiring chef, you need to know that skills will only get you so far. In fact, your innate qualities are ultimately what will determine your level of success in this industry.
In order to succeed in the fierce culinary industry, you have to know the qualities of a great chef and combine them with basic skills. It’s not an easy journey, but the beginning of every great adventure begins with learning.
Cooking is a mix between science and art and as a chef you should experiment with both if you want to stand out from the crowd. The best private chefs are the ones who take risks and create something new.
As a personal chef, you have to create custom menus for each client and adapt to their individual taste and dietary restrictions. It’s important to think outside the box and develop your own unique style so that clients come back for more of your delicious food.
Chefs have to be aware of their own culture as well as others in order to better understand flavors and cooking techniques. Trying food and ingredients from different countries helps you develop your palate and innovate in the kitchen.
This curiosity will help you learn more about the culinary industry (producers, distributors, etc.) and will help you develop your very own culinary style.
You will go through a lot of theory in the classroom, but that will only get you so far. A great chef has to understand that to nurture his knowledge and innovate he needs to practice, practice and then practice some more. Constant efforts are what make the difference between a good chef and an award-winning one. Don’t forget to taste along the way - that’s how you’re eventually going to be able to combine flavors and create flavor profiles.
This should be true for all careers but especially for cooking. Chefs have to adapt to a hard, fast and stressful work environment - it’s not for everyone. If you want to become a great chef, you have to love what you do and commit to it. The rest will follow!
This quality is essential for every chef. Being detail-oriented is a challenge in itself, imagine in the kitchen where you must multitask and handle a large number of ingredients on a daily basis. A poorly cooked steak or a hair in the rice could ruin the perfect meal and affect your reputation. One thing that will help you with this is good organization!
To be a personal chef you obviously have to love people because you deal with different personalities on a daily basis. You have to have good communication skills and provide great customer service to foster customer loyalty. Many private chefs make written proposals for their services to set realistic expectations.
Some also make little gifts for clients such as a bottle of champagne or a mise en bouche. Clients also love chefs who invest themselves in the success of their events and who are not afraid to share stories, make jokes and have conversations with them.
Good planning skills and time management are necessary to become a personal chef because you can get multiple bookings for different clients throughout the week and you need to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and tools for each meal. When you work in the kitchen, you discover that time is short and tasks are many. You have to perform multiple tasks in a short period of time because no client likes to wait for their food for very long. Multitasking will take you a long way!
Let’s be honest, it can sometimes be difficult to handle criticism but if you want to become a successful personal chef, you must have to be able to take criticism. It’s more you need it to evolve and learn. Not everyone will always love what you cook but it’s important that you know how to handle people’s comments and analyze what you could have done better. Take criticism as an opportunity to improve your culinary skills and become a better version of yourself.
Knowledge is the fundamental pillar but if you want to be a good personal chef, you also have to use the right tools to prepare your dishes. This includes knives, silverware, and appliances. Don’t be scared to try different instruments such as a smoker, a cedar plank, a siphon and much more. If you want to go even further, you can attend culinary and technology fairs and conventions to improve your technical skills.
There are many different ways to become a personal chef, some people choose to attend culinary arts school, some take independent cooking classes and others have a high school diploma with years of experience working in restaurants. In fact, a lot of renowned chefs did not go to culinary school (Gordon Ramsay!). They started their career as dishwashers or line cooks in different kitchens with experienced chefs. So how you want to go about it is up to you. The important thing is that you have a good understanding of cooking techniques, food safety and food hygiene regulations. If you don’t know how to properly cut onions, braise, sear, stew... Then you’ll want to go back to basics and study some useful cooking techniques.
If you choose to undertake a culinary arts program, you will learn key things about nutrition, cooking techniques, sanitary measures, how to plan menus, cater events and manage a business. Another option that is available to you is an apprenticeship program, which combines work experience with technical study.
While it’s not necessary to attend culinary school to be a private chef, you should have an extensive knowledge of cooking. You should eat out often, read cookbooks, and cook on a daily basis to create new dishes!
Cooks usually need at least 2 to 5 years of experience in restaurants, bakeries, catering companies or other areas of the culinary industry before they can be hired as professional chefs.
Even if you studied at the most prestigious culinary school, the culinary industry will not automatically make a place for you. You need to make a place for yourself and learn the ins and outs of the business before you step into your clients’ kitchens.
The required license and certification necessary to be a personal chef can vary from country to country so make sure to check the applicable laws in your city. You will most likely need a business license (or sales tax license), food safety certificate and liability insurance. Any additional certifications you get will also help you get clients as it will give you more credibility.
People often confuse personal chef services and catering. The difference between the two is that personal chefs have to prepare the food in the client’s kitchen, he can’t just deliver the food unless he also has a catering license.
Once you’ve completed the first three steps, it’s time to market your services to reach potential clients and build your reputation. There are different ways to do this. If you want to be self-employed, you should create your own website so that clients can browse your menus, see photos of your dishes, check your reviews and contact you to book your personal chef services. You can purchase the web domain on platforms such as Google Domains or GoDaddy.
Your website should contain the following information:
You should also register on personal chef platforms such as Miummium in order to get more leads and visibility. A strategy that combines all of these tactics is sure to take your business to the next level.
The salary of a personal chef can vary tremendously depending on the location, experience, menu and services offered. On the MiumMium platform, the chef usually brings home between $250 and $350 for one night work. This is net, after the price of food and other items.
The great news is that the demand for personal chefs has been growing exponentially in recent years. Busy families spend more time away from home and foodies are looking for new gastronomic experiences. What’s more, many people have specific dietary requirements, medical issues or allergies and others simply want to eat healthier.
If you’ve already got what it takes to be a personal chef, you’re just a few clicks away from receiving your first client requests. Whether you want to offer your services full time or complement your current jobs with a few events and dinner parties, you can organize your schedule at your convenience. With Miummium, Chefs keep 100% of the prices they set for their menus. We are the largest platform for personal chefs online with chefs in over 20,000 cities around the globe.