Secrets of a Successful Career as a Personal Chef

We've all been there - you come home from a busy day, and just can't be bothered to cook.... so, you order in a greasy takeout that you know you're going to love at the time but regret later or you run back out to pay a crazy amount of money for a meal in a restaurant... because, let's face it, you have to eat something.  At the back of your mind, however, you're telling yourself that home-cooked food would be much more nutritious.  Urgh! :( 

Demand for Personal Chefs and Private Chefs is increasing, so no matter where you are in the country, it's the perfect time to get into the industry.

Here are five keys to starting a successful - and rewarding - career as a Personal Chef.  

simply COOK!

There are many successful Personal Chefs that have never stepped foot in a culinary college.  They have a ingrained knack for creating delicious meals, backed up by the testimonials of their friends and family.  So if you aren't culinary trained, don't worry - your talent shouldn't be wasted, and allowing others to enjoy the fruits of your labour, while making money, is a win-win all around.

Just look around you.  Although we are bombarded with TV shows and glossy magazines about cooking, recipes and the latest menu trends, fewer and fewer people actually know how to cook or cook well.  Even during a slower economy, the restaurant and quick-service foodservice sector saw increasing numbers of people using their services.  Don't downplay the significance of being able to harmonize a variety of flavours, textures and colours on a plate in a mouthwatering masterpiece.  You're going to be in demand - you just need to tell people that you're out there!


A Personal Chef does much more than just cook.  There's the client interviews, the marketing, the menu planning and research, the shopping, the equipment hauling, the and the kitchen clean-up.  It's not an easy job, otherwise your clients wouldn't need you.  You're a professional, so charge like one.  Respect yourself and your clients will respect you too.

find the fun in RESEARCH!

Before starting your business, check out your competition by hiring a few of them for a short term service.  Playing the part of a customer is a great way to learn a few tricks.  Sure, you'll have to pay for the service, but put it down as part of your research costs and not only will you be well-fed for a while, but you'll also be able to write it off against your income.

Hang out in the kitchen for a while as they work, or sporadically ask a few questions.  Look at how they set themselves up in the kitchen?  How long did it take them to cook?  What equipment did they bring, and how did they store everything?  What packaging did they use for your meals? 

SCHMOOZE your way to getting new clients

You can't be a Personal Chef and a shy violet.  You have to feel comfortable meeting people and talking to them about your service and their needs.  Until you're established with a regular clientele, you'll also have to be a bit of a chameleon - adapting to consumer needs and being quick to react. 

For example, you may meet someone at your son's soccer game and learn that they have an elderly parent who has just returned home after surgery.  Solve their needs by suggesting your Personal Chef service so that mom/dad can recuperate without having to cook.  Or, on learning that your spouse's colleague has just been diagnosed with diabetes, it may be a great time for you to research the disease, so that you can offer a diabetic-friendly Personal Chef service.  Got a friend who is a beautician?  Offer an in-home package for special events, such as Mother's day, where you both provide your services at the same time - mom get's a make-over from your friend and you cook!

Being out and about in your community is one of the most effective - and cheapest - ways to grow your business.

benefit from PEER SUPPORT

Joining an association, such as The Chef Alliance, will give you access to business support, industry trends and advice that you would not have access to otherwise.  You'll also save a ton of money with lower-cost liability insurance.  Why do it alone when you can do it together, and benefit from a wealth of experience from hundreds of Personal Chefs.

If providing Personal Chef services is something that you would like to try, then give us a call.  We're here to help you!  

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!