5 Crucial Secrets To Becoming A Successful Personal Chef
by Patty "Sassy" Knutson
Have you ever considered starting a personal chef service? I did.
You might wonder why anyone would want to pay YOU to cook for them. I know why. Let me tell you. It's simple really.
Why Personal Chefs Aren't Going Out Of Business
Any Time Soon
Have you ever had one of those superbly busy days when you are just too busy to cook? How about one of those days when you're completely wiped out, no energy left to hop in the kitchen to prepare a healthy meal for you and your family?
So what do you do? Ah, yes! Order out. Yep. You hop in your car. Spend some gas money. Go to a restaurant. Spend some more money. Or maybe you pop some frozen food in the microwave and call it a day.
Yes, yes. We know eating like this isn't good for your health, your waistline or your check book. But you do it, right? What other choice do you have?
Well, if you've lived through this scenario, then you now understand why a good personal chef is worth a platter of gold, because like you there are millions of people out there in need of help during those very difficult days, when you're all pooped out but you're going to spend some money any way to eat something
.I ran a personal chef service from 2003 to 2007 – my very first venture working for myself. This had been my ultimate goal in life forever! I really dislike working to make money for someone else, when I can work equally hard and put all that money in my own pocket. Does that sound good to you? Then here's what to consider if you want to start a personal chef service like I did.
The 5 Secrets To A Successful Personal Chef Career
You need to know 5 fundamental insights about this line of work to start up a successful personal chef service. In my experience, they're the most important to know to make your venture last in making you money and giving you satisfaction.
- First, you have to know how to cook. Now, I'm not talking 5-star stuff here. But if your friends and family enjoy your food and they tell you that you're a good cook, then others will like your food as well. AND they'll pay you for your talent! So, don't waste it!
While you might be sitting there wondering "Why would anyone pay ME to cook for them?" The answer is obvious to others around you: "We'll pay you," they say, "because MOST OF US DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT COOKING!" As a cook you might think this strange. But it's absolutely true. Most people know juuuust enough to get by.
- Next, if you think that you will just be going to other people's homes and cooking, well, that is just one tiny part of what you'll be doing. A competent personal chef provides a more rounded service than just cooking and there is more to the business than doing the shopping and cooking for a client.
You will spend most of your time marketing, interviewing clients, building menus. You will grocery shop, clean the kitchen when you leave (yes, even the kitchen floor!) and haul your equipment in and out of your car to get the job done, if your client doesn't provide it.
Make no mistake, this is hard work, which is why you are worth every penny you charge! So charge what you're worth! Like me, you'll be a professional at what you do – an expert. Get your due wages.
- You'll need to get a bit of experience upfront to gain confidence in yourself. I recommend you find 2 or 3 personal chefs in your area and become their client for a day. That's a small investment for what you'll discover. You don't have to tell them what you're up to, and I wouldn't recommend hovering over them all day to ask questions. But be home and pop into the kitchen every once in a while to grab a beverage or something out of your cupboard so that you can see what they're up to.
When they leave, you will have a VERY good idea of how long it took them to prepare all that food for you, how they packaged and labeled it, and any instructions they left for you to follow. Yes, it will cost you. But that's a wealth of information that you will learn with just a couple of visits from different experts to your place and all businesses have some start-up costs. So call it market research and remember, it's a tax write-off!
- You're in business to deal with people. So don't be a loner. I recommend you consider joining a professional personal chef organization, such as the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA). By joining a network of professionals you will learn so much that you need to know to start your new business, such as how to get a Food Safety Certification (yes, you need one), insurance (for sure), and all those things that "you don't know that you don't know" yet.
- Finally, keep in mind that there is a market for you and your fabulous cooking skills. You just have to look carefully. In today's economy you might have to get creative, but there is demand for your cooking. Believe me!
Consider, for example, my friend Chef Joe. He was having a hard time marketing his big expensive packages (say, 4 servings of 4 meals). So he remained flexible and started offering very small packages when needed, while still keeping his prices where they made him happy with the money that he was making.
Another friend of mine, Chef Kris, created Massage-with-a-Dinner packages, where a couple received a professional massage by her two massage therapist friends while Kris was in the kitchen preparing a romantic dinner for two to enjoy afterward. How's that for creativity?
The sky is really the limit to what you can do with your very own personal chef service. It can be a LOT of work indeed, but a ton of fun too! Really!
You will usually fall head over heels for your clients, because they're almost always such grateful and cool people. (If they are not, then fire them!)
What To Watch Out For Before You Grow Your Personal Chef Business Like Crazy
Is there a negative side to this kind of business? Well, I guess one thing you really must know in advance is that there is
a cap to the money that you can make. That's because there is only ONE of you and you can only work with so many clients per week, ya know?
But even this can be worked around, if you're really serious about launching your own personal chef business. When your business grows to be so large that you cannot keep up with all the work yourself, then consider expanding it by associating yourself with some independent contractors to take on the extra clients, while you take a commission for it and continue handling only your favorite clients.See? You make extra money and keep working but only with those you really love to serve.
I know of personal chefs who hire an assistant to go along with them on chef dates to help out with preparation and clean-up work, so that the chef can concentrate on cooking. Think of it as your business offering an internship and using students from a local culinary academy. They're ideal for this type of work. They need the experience and you need the help. It's a win-win for you both.
Alas, the time came for me to decide that an expansion of my business wasn't for me. So I closed down my personal chef business, because I wanted to start my own website to coach others in how to cook. It's called VeganCoach.com
and it allows me to work from home as well as affords me the opportunity to join my husband when he travels for his own career.I've said a lot, I know. But I hope that all this information has helped those of you interested in learning some more ways to make quick money launching a personal chef business.
Wishing you all the best that life has to offer!
Patty “Sassy” Knutson is a vegan coach who believes you don’t need to give up taste and decadence to eat a healthful, vegan diet. Her website, www.vegancoach.com, provides useful tips, recipes and inspiration for current and aspiring vegans and vegetarians. Her book, Get Sauced with Sass!
shows how to make vegan sauces. It’s available through her website.