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Personal Chefs-any here?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I have made the jump from working as a Chef/Sous Chef for 12 years to becoming a Personal Chef ans was wondering if there were any others posting here?

I am still in the very early stages but have some leads on potential clients and hopefully will land my first job in the very near future.

I have been enjoying reading the various threads here and hope to post more.:)
post #2 of 21

Personal Cheffing

I am in the process of moving into personal cheffing from catering. There is a chef thread where there are many pc's.Try there if you dont get the response here
post #3 of 21


I am planning on becoming a personal chef in the near future.. Does that count?




post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Sure it counts.:)

I had a trial run today,showed something I already knew but for some reason had forgotten...don't try anything you don't have the equipment for.

I HAD a pastry bag and tips....somewhere.

I was attempting to pipe chopped spinach and ricotta inside chicken breasts with rather messy results but ziploc bags aren't the best pastry bags:rolleyes:

It worked out in the end although I had some 'colorful' expressions bouncing off the walls.

Hopefully I will get my first client from this,she seemed quite happy that I had cooked her a meal.
post #5 of 21
Hi. I've been a personal chef for a couple years. What kinds of questions do you have? You can pm me if you want to chat!

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi there,
Well I was simply hoping to find others who could help out from time to time on various questions and problems that may pop up.

I have my first client,wants me to cook three days worth of dinners.Unfortunately(or fortunately:D) she doesn't really want to pick what I cook beyond a very broad criteria-she likes chicken,doesn't like veal sort of thing.I have cooked for her when I was a Chef and she loved my cooking then so hopefully it will work out.

I do have one question:
How do you work out the grocery costs?Does the client simply pay you the following week?
post #7 of 21


PC'd for 9 years....cost plus food.....does not matter what they eat ie could be lobster or red beans, they are paying for my expertise.

Have a list made up of veg, meats, how hot if too hot, herbs/spices, fruits.....
go through them all with potential clients. It's amazing how the "I'll eat anything" client really doesn't like onions or tomatoes....but "eats everything".

Take care of yourself. If you commit to cooking for someone each week then if they go on vacation you still need to be paid. Coming up with fillins is impossible AND you have allocated that time for them. Make sure you put this in the initial agreement.
I'm fast. I can shop, fill a fridge in a very short time and serve lunch usually within 2-3 hours. So I don't work by the hour for my one pc client (a priest that pays my health insurence). But when I pc occasionally....comes up with usually old clients wanting me for a week or in one case 3 mos after surgery....I charge X amount for time, shop time, cooking time, cleanup, it's hourly + food.

Work out specifics prior to starting, have a set business operating plan so that there are NO problems with lack of communication further down the pike.

I raised three sons for several years PCing....good money, great way to be creative if you pick the right clients. Good Luck!
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #8 of 21

any personal chefs?

I have really been studying this from a lot of sources and everything Shroom says agrees with everything i have read. Also, you can go on the PC association sites and get good info from their open forums. Exactly the kinds of things you are asking...
post #9 of 21
Hey there "neighbor". I was just talking to a friend last week at the ACF meeting here in MB and she was saying that she has made the same committment. She told me she joined the PC Assoc. as some have suggested. Interestingly she said with membership comes some liability insurance... I thouhgt wow.. why not join the association...
Put you business plan together well. I now know of THREE PC's (including you) here at the beach. I am sure there are others.
Best of luck
Scott B

As far as the Kitchen goes, it is a long, long day that is never really over, you just go home at some point
Scott B

As far as the Kitchen goes, it is a long, long day that is never really over, you just go home at some point
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
I believe my first client is going to be the difficult one.:)

She is allergic to eggs which is not that big a deal.
She also cannot eat potatoes,flour,pasta,rice or sugar.The only fruit she can eat is blueberries or strawberries.

However I can cook pasta/rice fo rthe rest of the family.

I cooked them a sample entree(the chicken breast stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese) and then she called me the next day and after going back and forth asked if I would come in and cook spaghetti that night using whatever was in the house.

So as I am trying to land clients I went over,whipped up some sauce and cooked some pasta,went to the store and bought an eggplant for her and they enjoyed that.

So she wants me to cook for two more days this coming week but does NOT want to choose the meals,she wants me to pick them out.

I have a sample menu list printed out and she picked a few off that for some ideas.

I never would have imagined that people do not have the imagination to think of something they would like to eat. :rolleyes:

What I seem to be running into is people interested in having me cook but only for a night or two each is hard to explain to them that pricewise it costs them more.

Thanks all for the replies.
post #11 of 21

Personal Chefs-any here?

My understanding is that the insurance is an additional cost above the memberhip. It is a good group rate and really designed for PC's, but extra. Is your undersanding that it is actually included?

Oz, Have you tried giving her a sample menu based on her needs and presenting it to her, emphasizing that you need her to approve it to be sure it complies with her allergy limitations? As she looks at the menu you have developed, you will learn more about what she really wants.

Two other possible suggestions:
1) If people want 1 meal a week, cook 1x/month and make 4 meals. I know many PC's do this. It frees your time and lessens their cost. Just study what & how to freeze to maintain flavor & freshness.

2) I have many similar food limitations to your client. My concern is you said no potatoes but you are making eggplant. Potato amd eggplant are part of the same plant family (nightshades) as are tomatoes and all types of peppers (bell, cayenne, chili, etc). You may want to be sure eggplants are alright for her.

Good Luck!
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks,I may just do that,she filled out a questionaire and I have some idea what she can and cannot have and her tastes.

I was hoping to not freeze meals but I do believe I will end up doing just that,although to me personally it isn't as 'appetising',however that may be simply because I haven't looked at it cloesly enough.I will have to study up on this aspect.

The reason she doesn't eat potatoes is diet related,I asked her about eggplants and she didn't mention she couldn't eat it.She put down tomatoes as being fine so...:confused:

Thanks for the suggestions.

Anyone have 'starch' alternatives,I have mashed cauliflower in lieu of potatoes,tofu is available shaped like pasta,anything more??
post #13 of 21
Liability insurence is not expensive.

Set your rates and let the client decide if cooking once every two weeks, 1x a month or once a week is worth the extra expense.

Remember, it's important to decide what works for you....and what would work for you in the long run. Having a steady 1x a week filling the fridge gig is bread and butter. Being at their whim on when they want you is difficult to live on. As a single mother I needed regular cash flow....thus that's what I looked for in clients.

I can not emphasize how important that 2-3 hour initial meeting is.....that is where you get all the info from BOTH spouses on their likes/dislikes etc.
Have your form printed out and just go down it making notes.

At the beginning there are initial expenses that may not occur for a while....packaging containers, filling the spice rack with fresh herbs/spices, cooking equipment.....make sure the client is aware of these costs from the beginning. Springing expenses on them is not a good idea.

If you need timing flexibility say so from the beginning. I'm cooking this Sun for the priest because I'm returning my son to KY on Monday......since it was agreed upon initially then there is not any debate. I respect their time and will not randomly bump the day.....but if necessary will make it up the day before or the day after and include something "special" as a thank you.

There are all kinds of PC threads in the archives of cheftalk......very valuable.

Key to knowing what freezes well.....walk the freezer section of a grocery store.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
A little update.

Well I have placed brochures in several locations and have had to restock those locations several times,have a website up and running(needs a few little tweaks) and have 'networked' with a couple of other service oriented people but no real response...:(

Either people here like the IDEA of a Personal Chef more than the actuality or of course they are simply too cheap...:lol:

My one client was ecstatic with the food and quantities,we discussed using glass storage containers and what she would like fo rthe coming week....and then nothing.

Called and left messages and finally got hold of her on the supposed day of service and she had decided she was going to try cooking for her family on her own.

She is the co-owner of where my wife works and so I get to hear her complaints that she had nothing prepared this week for her family's dinner....sometimes I wonder about the sanity of people.:D

So perhaps she will decide it IS worthwhile to hire me again.
I was charging her $200+ groceries for three nights of meals(in reality it worked out to more as there were leftovers),do y'all think I should perhaps cut my fee?
post #15 of 21

Personal Chefs-any here?

no, Don't lower the price
post #16 of 21
When cooking on a weekly basis for the same families I preferred having the same salary....knowing what $ was coming through the door so I could plan.

Now it's a little different, besides the priest who I cook for on Monday mornings and recieve pay/health and dental insurence...only reason why I do it. I've not taken on new personal chef clients in years....but old clients have called and wanted me to cook for them for a specified surgery, or husband is out of town....etc..... in those cases I charge an hourly rate + food costs.

When personal cheffing was my main source of income, having the security of a weekly client was valuable. My rates were $125-175 my pay plus food for 4-5 entrees, salads, sometimes scoopable lunches, sometimes a dessert or two. Normally the meals were for 2 sometimes 4. Volumes really don't matter when your charging cost/plus. $200 for 3 meals plus food pretty hard to maintain weekly clients. They would be spending approx $325 ish for 3 meals.

Again, going from my clientel were dbl surgeons and CFO/CEO of large corporations, they had money. I had them for clients for multiple years...the ones that did not stay around for more than 6 months or so usually moved on right before a major vacation.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #17 of 21

Personal Chefs-any here?

Interesting Shroom, I was basing my answer not to lower the prices on everything I have heard from all the PC orgs and the few people I have talked to in person who are doing PCing. I thought the 200 was high until then... I am so often told I undervalue myself that I wanted ot be inthe right place for the market. So once again I like your advice and may consider going with the rates you suggest.
BTW, are you the official or unofficial resident mentor on this site? :chef:
post #18 of 21
unofficial, as are the rest of the posters.
$325+ for 3 meals would be cost prohibitive to maintain on a weekly basis for any length of time, and that is what most personal chefs are looking for Long Term Commitment so you are not trying to figure out new people's eating habits all the friggin' time and learning where they keep shtuff in their kitchens...

Oz, didn't I pick up somewhere that you are private cheffing rather than personal is you go in and cook a meal at their home...usually one meal at a time, usually at dinner time.
The other is preparing multiple meals at a time and filling the fridge.

If you are cooking for dinner for them 3x a week $200+ food is lower end of the spectrum.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am personal cheffing(what a strange looking word:)) and at the moment,quite discouraged.

I have been cooking professionally for 12 years in fine dining restaurants in our area and people know who I am and where I worked and yet it seems in the end people just cannot bring themselves to pay for the service.:confused:

I have been putting brochures in our local butcher that the 'rich folk' use and have to refill the holder every Monday....but not one call.

I have tried the local spa and nothing.

I have placed ads locally online,plenty of visits but no bites.

I DID have one woman call about catering a party,all was going well until I casually mentioned how I would cook all the food in her kitchen-THAT was simply not going to happen:rolleyes:I explained the legalities and even said I could use a commercial kitchen that is available and by that point she didn't seem too interested.

Funny thing is I KNOW if she uses anybody in town to cater a party she will pay two to three times as much as I would have charged.

I am seriously thinking of trying to find a job cooking but really do not want to go back into that life.

I guess what will be, will be...or so Doris Day sang.:p
post #20 of 21
I find it intresting that no one has mentioned domestic agencies.Every large city has several.These agencies supply staffing for wealthy families.They also supply referrals to their clients for private parties ect.I would suggest introducing yourself to the agencies in your area.Its all about networking.Good luck
post #21 of 21

Personal Chef

Hey Oz.I just joined a PC network.So I guess I am officially open for business.Add one more Personal Chef on Chef Talk.Good Luck.
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