One of the many great things seen in the food industry today is that professional chefs are constantly in demand. If you know how to craft delicious food then it’s a huge advantage you’ll have as time goes on and you make your way from culinary school into the culinary workforce no matter what specialty that you decide to focus on.
But if you’re looking forward to cooking for a family or couple, simply cooking is hardly enough to get your foot in the door. So Want To Become A Personal Chef?
A family chef is basically a person who comes to the residence of clients and makes meals for a set number of days (typically anywhere from 1-5) for customers to eat when they arrive home from work or wherever they were that day.
The term is frequently confused with a private chef since both prepare and serve food for the client and the clients family.
The need for a home chefs has surged dramatically for the past few years and will double in the next several years. The busy lifestyle and increased consciousness of eating healthy has led to such increase.
For cooks or chefs out in the field, there are good working opportunities available especially for those who want to take a different route in the food industry. The need has risen so much that they have formed their own trade association, called the American Personal and Private Chef Association.
How to Become a Personal Chef
Becoming a personal (or home/family) chef is a career choice (or career move, depending on your stage in life) that should be considered in a serious manner.
It’s a completely different world than what you may be used to if you have spent a significant amount of your time in a commercial kitchen. It’s a bit more relaxed than what you are probably used to, but just like working in a restaurant, it involves critical planning, knowledge, dedication, and hard work.
It entails the best skills of a chef and in a majority of cases, the chef cooks on his own.
You not only need to be a great chef though, you need to be personable and get along with the client and his or her family after all, you are the one feeding them dinner every night, so its important that you form a relationship with each person that you are cooking for (typically your client and their family) so that you can get to know them and determine what they like and do not like in terms of food so you can do your job better.
There really isn’t a defined path for how to become a family chef, so you’ll need to keep as many doors open and see what happens.
A home chef typically buys the right ingredients for the clients meals; does the cutting, slicing and other prep work related to the nights meal (or the meals for the entire day, depending on your agreement), as well as the cooking; washes cooking and dining utensils; and cleans up the kitchen while the client eats.
For certain chefs, it’s like going back to the beginning of their career, where they had to do everything in the kitchen. For others, they enjoy the break up of the routine of doing the same thing every day and enjoy switching tasks from cooking to cleaning or food shopping.
To be a successful family chef, it’s essential you possess the skills in culinary arts (up to at least the level of a sous chef), and if not, at least have a solid food background.
Cooking is one of those areas where you can show your chops and don’t need a degree to get ahead but degrees don’t hurt. A majority of cooks have a culinary degree.
If you happen to not have any, you should consider enrolling yourself in a culinary school or take cooking seminars or multiple cooking courses in a variety of cuisine styles to learn new recipes and methods.
Furthermore, for home chefs, usually years of experience in the field is required, as many families with the means to hire someone to do their cooking and meal planning don’t want someone who has not been battle tested in the kitchen.
If you want to go through this path, it will be easiest for you if you work in a commercial kitchen or catering company for quite a few years before you start looking for clients. Just like the food that you make your clients, preparation is important to be a standout in this field.
If you happen to possess a natural talent in the kitchen and you enjoy making meals for other people then you’ll stand a good chance of excelling in the field.
Keep in mind that culinary skills are not the only thing that will get you ahead here you will also need to be personable, good with kids and someone who has the ability to plan and think ahead (much like an executive chef would).
Many families will hire someone that they can connect with on a personal level who is a fairly good cook, compared with someone who they could not connect with who was an amazing cook.
Since almost everyone adores food, a lot of people have considered becoming a home chef for planning menus and preparing healthy or gourmet foods on a regular basis for their clients, so you’ll have to make sure that you stand out. Perhaps you can offer a specific type of cuisine style, or something else to differentiate yourself from the other home chefs in your area.
You have a couple options if you intend to pursue a family chef as your career. You can be part of a cooking team or work independently. Regardless of your choice, a family chef can be very financially rewarding and personally satisfying.
If have interest in giving this business a try and you seriously want to be a member of this community and profession, you’ll probably need to earn a culinary degree or diploma to begin your career.
You’ll also be required to create a good reputation as a chef. Typically, five years or more of experience in culinary management can be add to your arsenal of culinary qualifications, and make you a more attractive person to meet your current and future clients needs.
But of course, attaining a degree and experience can only push you so far. Your love and interest for anything culinary is probably the most important thing needed to be successful in the food industry.
Jobs and Salary
Not too long ago, home chefs were only for the wealthy and powerful people. Nowadays, that’s no longer the case since there’s a wide number of home chefs to choose from, each with a different focus.
It’s becoming affordable even for the ordinary person and can be had by any family if they are interested in it. Someone in this position will take the time to know preferences of clients such as the ingredients to avoid on specific dishes or dishes to eat on a regular basis because they are family favorites.
In this field, you can save a chunk of time for your clients since you’re the ones shopping for groceries and you know the freshest and ideal ingredients to serve.
You need to consider all of this when you are determining how much to charge your clients, as many chefs dont charge for this consistently and they only consider the amount of money that they are spending on food as a part of the clients costs, which leads to a lower rate than they probably could have gotten had they factored in all the other time they spent doing things for the client, including meal planning, prep work and clean up.
All of that being said, you can still earn a very comfortable living following this career path. You will also be able to enjoy a lot of benefits others dont get, such as a very flexible schedule and the ability to set your own hours on a daily basis.
Many restaurant chefs do not have this benefit, and they will probably be a bit jealous of your flexible schedule. Remember though this is why you you became a chef.
A home chef can work onsite or offsite, depending on the clients needs. An onsite chef is fully accountable for anything related to preparing meals for the family.
This includes planning meals and snacks, making meals, and cleaning up after cooking and dining, among other things. Also, an onsite chef will be doing all of these things for special events that the client holds, such as dinner parties or birthdays for them or their children.
Meanwhile an offsite family chef is accountable for delivering meals to residents at certain times (typically around dinner time) and other requirements that were discussed with the client when you were determining their needs.
Onsite private chefs typically earn from $15.00 to $35.00 per hour, which can vary widely based on where you live and what your status is. If you are working as a chef for a family but work for a company that aids families finding employees for their home in the culinary arena, you probably wouldnt make as much money as you would make on your own.
Your earnings also depend on where you live, as people who are working in the culinary industry in San Francisco, CA stand to make more than someone in a similar position in Nashville, TN.
Latest reports indicate that earnings of these types of culinary professionals can range from $18,000 to over $100,000 a year depending on the experience, current market, and number of clients they work for. Since a majority of people in the profession are self-employed, it’s a bit hard to determine the average yearly salary average because many opt to take a nominal salary and then take most of their compensation as a distribution to lower the income tax rate.
Making a decision to be a family chef is essential since it can entail starting a career in the culinary arts and making significant career modifications. For certain people aspiring to be professionals in this niche, they’ll be riding a career road that’s completely different than what they’ve been trained for.
While it may seem that the job can be difficult, it can also be intriguing. If you happen to love working for different clients and varying environments, this could be something you’ll likely go for.
Heading down this career path can be very rewarding in different aspects, depending on how you see it.
You assist clients in making dietary changes especially if you’re a health conscious person. You can also significantly alter the health of your clients in the future, which is a noble act in itself.