by Marjory Pilley, Demand Media
If you like to cook and the entrepreneurial flame is burning, then you might want to consider opening a personal chef company. While you might relish the opportunity to create a great-tasting meal for your family, there are plenty of other people who don’t … or just don’t have the time. Although a penchants for cooking is important, the successful professional chef will also be personable, organized and creative. You’ll also need lots of energy to manage the multiple tasks associated with this type of business.
Obtain training if you don't have adequate cooking skills. In addition, a personal chef must have knowledge about food safety, freezing food and creating menus. Training is available through culinary programs or by self-study. Trade organizations… also provide training and certification.
Develop a recipe inventory. Customers will have a variety of tastes and needs. For example, some may require low-salt menus or desire kid-friendly entrees. In addition, meals must freeze and defrost well. Recipes that fit this criteria can often be purchased or found in specialty cookbooks.
Establish a process to gather client information. When you meet with customers for the first time, you will need to document a client profile that includes food preferences and information about their kitchen setup.
Choose a legal structure and name to register with the state secretary. A sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company are possible legal entities. Unless you are a sole proprietorship and market the business with your own name, you will also need file a fictitious name with the state secretary too. When selecting a name, choose a descriptive and catchy name that will be useful for marketing purposes.
Set up an office. Administrative tasks, such as billing, marketing and menu planning, can be done at home. Note that most jurisdictions require that all cooking tasks occur at the home of a client and not in your own kitchen.
Obtain licenses, permits and certification. The requirements vary be state. Food manager certification, required for commercial food preparation and restaurants, is generally not required if all food is prepared at the client's home and no food is taken from the premises. Regardless, an occupational license for the business may be required.
Register to pay sales tax if required by the state, city or county. Many states require collection and remittance of a sales tax on prepared food.
Buy equipment and supplies. Many states require that fresh food be purchased and transported directly to the client's location for preparation. Only condiments and incidentals, such as dried spices or cooking spray, can be purchased in advance and stored at the chef's house. With respect to equipment, requirements also vary about what utensils may be used from a client's kitchen. Although it is usually acceptable to use a client's appliances with their permission, most chefs will bring their own set of cooking utensils, pots and pans to the home.
Obtain liability insurance to cover any accidents. Contact an insurance agent* to obtain a policy based upon the volume and range of services provided.
Establish pricing based upon the cost of materials and labor involved. Software is available to assist in calculating food costs. Experience will improve time estimates for labor. Some possibilities for pricing include by the meal or for an entire package. Check with competitors to see what rates are typical in an area.
Advertise the business. A personal chef often enjoys an ongoing relationship with clients. Referrals from satisfied customers are integral to success. To get the ball rolling, let everyone know that you are in business. Send a news release, advertise, and participate in networking and social events.
Permits and licenses
Consider catering parties or providing cooking lessons in a home to increase exposure.
The Chef Alliance is the leading organisation of Private & Personal Chefs & Caterers in Canada offering Chefs a place to locate jobs, meet new clients, grow their business, benefit from peer support, discounts to lower their business costs, marketing services & much more. This allows Chefs concentrate on what they do best - cook great food!
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