Personal chefs cook meals for an individual or a family, while often planning the meals, shopping for ingredients, ordering supplies and cleaning up afterward. Before you start working toward becoming a personal chef, learn about the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision about this career.
Opportunity to be self-employed - small financial investment, no inventory and you use client's kitchen (approximately $2,000 needed to start a personal chef business)***
You don't have to deal with working in a crowded kitchen or overseeing various projects (like administrative work or training new employees) as you might if you worked in a restaurant*
May find work with a celebrity*****
You may be able to determine your own schedule**
Mean annual wage in 2014 ($27,500) was lower than the national average salary ($47,000)*
May have to learn new special diets and adjust cooking habits with each new family (i.e., gluten-free, diabetic or vegetarian diets)**
Being a chef is physically demanding (i.e., lifting up to 20 lbs., standing for long periods and bending the body)****
Need liability insurance****
*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
**How to Start a Home-Based Personal Chef Business (book),
****Flathead Valley Community College,
*****University of Tennessee - Knoxville.
A personal chef cooks meals for an individual or a family. In this role, you plan the meals and either shops for the ingredients or order supplies and groceries for delivery. You are also responsible for cleaning, washing dishes and making sure everything is in its proper place. A personal chef is typically self-employed and may work for one or more clients. A personal chef is different from a private chef, who is contracted by only one client.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), personal chefs (or 'private household cooks') made a median annual salary of about $27,500 as of 2014; however, salary ranges vary according to which source you use. For instance, PayScale.com found most private chefs, also known as personal chefs, made between $26,000 and $120,000, as of September 2015. The median salary was $68,563. O*NET predicted average projected job growth (-2% to 2%) for personal chefs in the 2012-2022 decade.
If you want to become a personal chef, you should to consider earning a certificate or undergraduate degree in culinary arts - although this is not necessary within the industry. You may also enrol in an apprenticeship program run by trade unions, industry associations or culinary institutes. Since most personal chefs are self-employed, taking courses or earning a degree in business, sales or marketing can help you with the business side of your profession. A personal chef needs skills in decision-making, financial management, marketing, safe food handling, customer relations and menu planning. You also learn planning, organization and how to modify recipes.
Many of the jobs posted for personal chefs are individual families looking for a chef to come to the family's home to cook meals. A person may also require a personal chef to cook for a party or special event. The posted job excerpts listed below were open as of May 2012.
A search firm in Michigan advertised for a personal chef to cook, clean up and shop for special events, dinner parties and everyday meals. Applicants need a culinary degree and experience with private residence dinner parties.
A family in Maryland sought a personal chef with five years of experience to cook dinner. The personal chef must look after shopping and clean up.
A family in Pennsylvania advertised for a personal chef to cook for a couple of hours each day. Candidates must be skilled in ethnic cooking, such as Indian cuisine.
A client may have particular requirements, such as needing a gluten-free diet. You may want to concentrate on cooking vegetarian, diabetic, low-carb, sushi or dairy-free meals. You could also capitalize on current fads or trends. Alternatively, you may decide to cook a certain type of cuisine, such as Italian or Indian. You can create a signature dish that is associated with you and your business. You can also start a small side business, such as cooking treats for dogs, to attract clients.
Want to expand your cooking business to focus on larger crowds and special events? To be a caterer, you have to be a skilled chef. Although there's no minimum mandatory amount of education, you may decide to take courses or earn a certificate or degree in business or hospitality to help you develop your business. PayScale.com reported that most self-employed food caterers made an annual salary of between $25,000 and $100,000 as of May 2012.
Do you prefer a management position with a potential for a higher median salary than personal chefs receive? As a food service manager, you may work for an assisted-living facility and cook nutritious, delicious meals that will help the establishment appeal to clientele. You may also work for a franchise or chain restaurant with an associate's degree or certificate in food service management. Food service managers made a median salary of about $48,000 as of 2011, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that food service manager positions might experience a decline of three percent from 2010-2020.
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BACKGROUND: The Chef Alliance is a membership organisation for Personal Chefs, Private Chefs, Chefs and Caterers, Artisan and Cottage Industry food producers and bakers, Home Cooks, Culinary Instructors, Food Stylists, Chef Instructors and other foodservice professionals across Canada. We support our members in growing strong, successful businesses, through mentorship, peer support, marketing, business savings and liability insurance. We have member Chefs in Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, Montreal, Quebec City, Vaughan, Markham, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, Richmond, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Halifax... and many other towns and cities in Canada.
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