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? for private/personal chefs

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Listening to some of the TV shows, particularly the competitions, it seems that many hold private chefs in contempt, that somehow they are second-class citizens. Sort of the way professional soldiers think about militia.

 

So I was wondering if you have run into that in the course of your careers? Does the industry, at large, treat you like second-class citizens, or is that just a function of the folks who appear on those shows?

 

Just curious.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #2 of 17

It depends.  Private chef and personal chef are two different professions.  I worked as a Private Chef for 10 years - with one family exclusively.  I was their employee and under contract with them alone.  Personal Chefs generally operate as independent contractors, offering services to more than one, and sometimes many, clients.  In my experience, the former seems to engender a bit more respect than the latter.

 

I think that MANY industry workers secretly envy the private chef.  Who wouldn't?  Typically, a PC works a normal 40-50 hour week, gets paid a ridiculous sum of money, has the most extraordinary product to work with and a limitless budget, has terrific benefits and retirement plans;  and in some cases, a PC gets to travel all over the world with the family. 

 

It's possible that skills can get stale but it's really up to the individual to stay sharp and cutting edge, regardless of whether it's one client or 1000.  In my case, my family had refined and sophisticated culinary expectations so I kept abreast of food trends and continued to study in my down time.

 

It's a great gig, one I've missed and have been desperately trying to get back into. 

post #3 of 17

I am a Private Chef and have been now for 12 years. Everything trk said is what I have now. (except that ridiculous sum of money  :)

 

Prior to this job I had been in the industry my whole career (35 years by the time I started this gig)

I feel like I had put in my time (hot kitchens, feeding thousands of people, food factory mentality, etc...)

Here, there is no food cost control, "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets." attitude.

 

With all of this, a Chef's dream job, why do I feel like I have to defend myself when asked what restaurant I work in, and I say that I work as a Private Chef for a family?

 

Is it envy, jealousy?

post #4 of 17

I must reiterate, i do believe it's at least a hint of envy.  Like you, I put in 20 HARD years in the industry so I surely don't feel like I took a shortcut or some cushy expressway to culinary success.  Most honest chefs over 35 will admit they would LOVE to cook for a Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, facilitating swanky dinner parties and jetting to Switzerland for the family's ski vacation.  It would be different if some rube straight out of Johnson and Wales landed a job working for Warren Buffet - even I would resent that!  But having the privilege  of finishing out one's culinary career as a Private Chef WITH BENEFITS would likely make anyone jealous.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

You're making this even harder on me, trk.

 

Are you saying it isn't the job, but the path to the job, that makes you a full citizen? That's how I'm reading it.

 

Let's say I was in the market for a private chef. Among the people I interview is a recent grad from CIA, or Le Cordon Bleu, or, to put a point on it, J&W. Turns out, based on chemistry, and performance at a trial, and extensive interviews, I actually hire the kid.

 

According to you, (s)he hasn't earned the right to be my chef, because (s)he hasn't paid dues, and, therefore, is a second class citizen.

 

Isn't that perpetrating the stereotype?

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 17

Some very valid points there KYH.

 

I guess it all comes down to interviewing skills and "gut feelings"--tht is if you feel the chemistry is right, and the applicant didn't bomb in the kitchen, you're 99% it is the right hire irregardless of age.

 

Age is no guarantee of experience, I remember this one 18 yr old kid I almost didn't hire, and the interview didn't go all to well.  I re-read the resume and noticed the working dates didn't match up, kid said he'd worked 7 summers at this one place.  It finally dawned on me it was his Uncles's place.  Most kitchen-savvy 18 yr old kid I ever knew.....

 

On the other hand, I wasted more time than I care to interviewing culinary school graduates with virtually no other kitchen experience.  Will I be the one to show them how to clean and boil out a fryer safely while still paying them?  That you HAVE to keep fridge doors closed or the coil will ice up and the fridge will warm up?  That you HAVE to scrub and rinse off pots and cookware before they go into the dishwasher or they won't get clean and you'll just dirty the d/w tank and double or triple the time to clean again anyway?  That hotel pans sizes are like "Legos": 1/9th, 1/6th, 1/3, 1/2, full, full deep, etc, AND smile while I pay them?  That thier ideas are wonderfull but I have a limit of 15 mins prep time per order for a $15.00 lunch special?

 

Experience is the "equalizer" for these issues.

 

I hate the concept of "school of hard knocks" mainly because I have been knocked around too, and some of the things I learned took years to unlearn. 

 

Most of the time however, an interview--for me-- is just a fact-finding mission.  Dates and places match up? Nervous behavior--so what? Excessive nervous behavior, watch out.  Control check: Are you willing to take a drug test?--Guage behavior.  Sample questions as to how you'd make this or that, or the steps you'd take to prepare for a party of 200.

 

But the only thing that will make me hire or not hire the person is to actually watch the dude perform daily, normal activities  in my kitchen for 3 or 4 hr shift.  I don't go for any "staging", I just pay outright.  If the appliant is a keeper, I keep, if the applicant is a stinker, I congratulate myself for spending the 60 or 70 bucks to determine that.

 

I'm just a cook, have no HR courses or special HR skills under my belt, but I've sat on both sides of the table and know that an interview is just a fact-finding mission.   

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 17

Foodpump, I agree with what you are saying. A student coming right out of culinary school and into a Private Chef's gig may or may not have the qualifications, but that is for the employer to decide not us.

 

Trk...I was chosen from 125 applicants, and as 12 years have gone by now, I can say without a doubt, I was hired for my ability to get along, and my culinary abilities were a delightful surprise for my employer. There were 4 Chefs before me in a 5 year period. None of them had the maturity, patience, as well as knowledge and desire to give the client what he wanted.

 

While a recent culinary grad might give the client what he wants, it would be the more experienced culinarian that might be able to up the anty for them.

 

KYHeirloomer, no matter what anyone else says, it is human nature to feel that jealousy.Say what you will, it is.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Say what you will, it is.

 

I didn't say nuthin, Chefross. Just asking some questions about an observed situation.

 

That being the case, how about the original question. Do you feel the industry percieves you as a second class citizen because "real" chefs work in restaurants? 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 17

The public? 

The ones who think that anyone with a poofy white hat is a "Chef? 

The ones who watch that drivel on "Foodnetwork" and accept it as the gospel truth? 

The ones who book a table for 2 a week in advance requesting a special dish not on the menu, tip the maitre d' handsomely, and give a verbal "compliments to the Chef"?

 

  

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Listening to some of the TV shows, particularly the competitions, it seems that many hold private chefs in contempt, that somehow they are second-class citizens. Sort of the way professional soldiers think about militia.

 

So I was wondering if you have run into that in the course of your careers? Does the industry, at large, treat you like second-class citizens, or is that just a function of the folks who appear on those shows?

 

Just curious.

kyh,

 i was a chef on private luxury yachts in mexico and the caribbean for many years. i never thought of myself or believed that i was viewed as a second class chef at all...in fact just the opposite. i always had the respect of my employers, peers and guests. peoples perception was that i was having a ton of fun sailing around the ocean..let me tell you, it is a very tough row to hoe...first one up in the morning, last one to bed, every meal a culinary delight...breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, appetizers and everything in between. many, many times we ran into boats desparately seeking chefs..toughest position to fill on a boat and the toughest to keep. living in close quarters is not always easy, and even a 100 foot boat gets small fast. you have to be even tempered, get along with everyone, and have a great sense of humor...these jobs are tough, and perhaps alot harder than a land job.... i was always very proud to be the chef...always... and again to reiterate,  there was always a respect from everyone.

joey

p.s. getting my first order of colorado beefsteak tomatoes today...oh brother, can a 'mater' sandwich be too far behind? 
 

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #11 of 17

Durangojo,

 

 

The part about " you have to be even tempered, get along with everyone, and have a great sense of humor", is so true especially working private.

I really enjoyed your post.


Edited by petalsandcoco - 7/30/10 at 8:23pm

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #12 of 17

I really enjoyed your post too Joey. Thank-you. Travelling around on a one woman boat show could not always have been a peice of cake. I agree with the even tempered get along with everyone too. It should apply to every kitchen but that's not always the way as we all know.

 

Yes and Food Pump had a good point regarding the public thinking because we wear the hat ..well we must be a chef!

My mom has a quote regarding people that say they are good christians because they are standing in church.

"Just because your standing in a garage dosn't make you a car!"

 

Gypsy

My feet are firmly planted in mid air
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My feet are firmly planted in mid air
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post #13 of 17

petals,

besides, engaging and sharing ideas, ranting and venting is a part of what is so great about cheftalk

joey

 

 

ky,

 did we answer your question sufficiently enough?

joey

had my first 'mater' sandwich...those tomatoes are pure, simple perfection...hope those MG guys don't mess with them!

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

did we answer your question sufficiently enough?

 

I'm not sure it was answered at all, Joey. As usual, we've kind of wandered in far directions.

 

What sparked the question was an episode of Chopped. I normally don't watch it, but it happened to be on. In one instance, a contestent was explaining why he wasn't concerned about another competitor, because, "she's just a private chef, and doesn't know what it's all about." (presumtive implication: "not like us real chefs).

 

This isn't the first time I've run into that sort of thing---the idea that, somehow or other, you only have bonefide cooking chops if you work in a restaurant, that private cheffing is, at best, a step above being a home cook.

 

What I was wondering, therefore, is whether that's just a reflection of TV chefs? Or is it widespread in the industry?

 

What we're talking about isn't whether private chefs have the necessary training and experience and creativity, but how they are percieved by other working pros.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #15 of 17

oh....

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #16 of 17
Quote:
...What we're talking about isn't whether private chefs have the necessary training and experience and creativity, but how they are percieved by other working pros.

Ah yes, well, having done both, I can understand why the "restaurant cooks/chefs" might demonstrate "disdain" personal/private cooks/chefs capabilities because of the perception that the pressure/speed of a restaurant is absent in the personal/private arena, but IMHO, that is simply jealousy on the part of the restaurant cooks/chefs that don't know better.

 


 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post



Ah yes, well, having done both, I can understand why the "restaurant cooks/chefs" might demonstrate "disdain" personal/private cooks/chefs capabilities because of the perception that the pressure/speed of a restaurant is absent in the personal/private arena, but IMHO, that is simply jealousy on the part of the restaurant cooks/chefs that don't know better.

 


 


Done both too Pete...Jealousy?      Maybe .....but I would say Ignorance

 

Gypsy
 

My feet are firmly planted in mid air
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My feet are firmly planted in mid air
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