What is a personal chef?
The difference between a personal chef and a private chef is that a private chef works for just one family or individual and a personal chef is employed by numerous families. I work for about sixteen different families currently. It changes all the time.
I’m a personal chef. Mom and Dad go to work all day and they come home from work. They’re exhausted and the kids are wondering, “what’s for dinner.” They end up probably doing take-out or going out to eat. I thought, “why can’t I go in, make meals for them and then they’ll have healthy weeknight dinners.” I decided this is what I’m going to do. I looked it up and it turned out that it’s a profession. I didn’t even know. It’s a personal chef. There are a few other personal chefs already in my area and I thought, “yeah, there’s enough room in the market that I could do this too.” I specialize in healthy weeknight dinners for families. For a typical cook session, I show up with groceries, cook a few meals, leave them in the refrigerator and the client just heats and serves according to the instructions I left behind.
Are all your clients famous?
Now, I wanted to answer some of the interesting questions I get when I tell somebody that I’m a personal chef. The first question they always ask is, “are all your clients famous?” No, actually I don’t have anybody famous. I don’t even know anybody famous, so no. My clients are just regular people who understand that they would rather pay somebody else in exchange for more time.
Why don’t you cook all the food at home, then bring it to the client?
Another questions I get asked is, “why don’t I cook all the food at home and then bring it over to the client?” That is a good question except the health department gets involved heavily then. They’d have to approve my kitchen for cooking like a restaurant. They’d have to approve the method of my transferring the prepared meals over to the client’s house. There would also be additional taxes for me – meals tax and sales tax. Those are taxes I don’t have to pay as a personal chef.
Do people tell their family they cooked the meal themselves?
I’ve been asked, “do people ever tell their family or friends that they cook the meal when it was me?” The truth is that I’ve offered before. I’d say, “go ahead and tell everyone you made it”, but most people tell the truth. They’re like, “no, I can’t take credit for it. My friends and family know I don’t cook, so no, I’m not taking credit for it.” That’s a funny question.
Are all your clients old?
When I tell them that I’m a personal chef, a lot of people think that all my clients are seniors and that they’re just too decrepit to be able to cook for themselves and that’s just not true. I don’t have any older people who are decrepit and can’t cook for themselves. I mostly cook for families and again, they’re just looking to exchange time for money. They want more time in their lives. This is how they’re choosing to spend their money.
Doesn’t everybody want Mondays?
People who want to get into the profession have different kinds of questions, like, “doesn’t everybody want Mondays?” I thought that when I first started, that everybody would want Monday and Tuesday, but when they have a different lifestyle of not cooking on the weekends, that’s also a draw for them. Some people are retired, so having a Friday or Thursday cook session is fine for them. It really depends on their lifestyle. Not everybody wants Monday or Tuesday, though they definitely are two of the most popular days.
Are personal chefs only in big cities?
Another question I get asked is, “does this only work in big cities?” The city I live in is less than 200,000 people. I don’t live in a big city at all. This is not a big city area, yet I have plenty of clients. It really depends on the income level and what the industry is in your area. I imagine big cities would have more competition. In my town, I think there may be three to five personal chefs. I think the level of competition is more important than how big your town is.
Do you need a culinary degree to become a personal chef?
I get asked, “do you need special certification or need to go to some kind of school to become a personal chef?” I don’t have anything like that. I just have a passion for cooking healthy food so I thought that I’d love to share it with other people. This is why I became a personal chef.
Do you have one menu for everyone?
I have clients and people interested in getting into the business ask me if I have one menu for everybody. That just would not be possible. Right now, I have about sixteen families and each family has its own allergies and food preferences. They each have their own idea about what is a healthy diet. There’s no way that I could have one menu and have sixteen groups of people choose from it. I also have rotating recipes throughout the year depending on the season. I’m not going to serve a strawberry salad in the middle of winter.
How to charge for personal chef services? How to get clients?
A couple questions I get asked about people wanting to get into the business are, “how do you go about charging” and “how do you go about getting clients?” Those are great questions of course. I’d like to dedicate an entire video to each topic because there’s a lot involved in both of them. Please subscribe and catch those future videos.
Grab the freebie “9 Ways to Get New Personal Chef Clients.”
Personal Chef Questions Welcome!
If you are interested in becoming a personal chef, I do have a workshop coming up. If you have any interest in becoming a personal chef from absolutely nothing until getting to your first client, let me know. I have a link below and I’ll put you on the list to let you know as soon as that course comes out.
Virginia Stockwell has been in the professional catering and personal chef business since 2005. She offers mentoring advice at VirginiaStockwell.com and her YouTube channel “How to Become a Personal Chef”.