The role of personal chef was virtually unknown a few years ago. Today more than 7,000 are registered as active members of the American Personal Chef Association. Industry leaders estimate this number will swell to more than 25,000 within the next 10 years. They will be serving nearly 300,000 clients and contributing nearly $1.2 billion to the U.S. economy.
A personal chef plans menus, shops for food, and cooks it in a client’s home. He may pack it in neatly labeled containers with heating directions, store it in the refrigerator or freezer and, then leave the kitchen in pristine condition. He or she customarily is employed by several clients.
A personal chef should not be confused with a private chef, who works for one family or one entity. A private chef may live on the property and may be on call day and night. A personal chef lives in his own home, chooses his clients, decides which hours he will work and sets the fees he will charge for his services.
The market for the services of a personal chef includes everyone from single people who work long days and may not know how to cook (or don’t want to learn) or can’t take the time to shop for more than the bare essentials to couples, who relish the idea of having their meals ready to eat when they are.
Other potential customers include those who would welcome a helping hand either temporarily or permanently. These might be new parents and moms and dads who want to spend time with their children when they get home from work or older people, who want to stay in their own home but may not be able to handle the chores of shopping and cooking.
Then, of course, there are the remaining millions who have figured out that it is less costly to have the refrigerator stocked with only the foods that will actually be eaten. There will be no wasted foods, no midnight temptations and no time spent on shopping, meal preparation or dish washing. This is the kind of enlightened thinking that is spurring the personal chef business.
Getting Started as a Personal Chef
This is a business that can be started with virtually no capital. The client pays for the food, plus a fee that may be set by the chef or calculated on an hourly basis. The client pays the chef to buy any essential cooking equipment that is then kept in the client’s home as well as any storage containers that are needed.
American Idol engages a personal chef to feed the secluded finalists. An experienced cook may earn $80,000 a year—tax-free—working on a luxury yacht cruising the Greek Islands.