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Personal Chef panel report - Page 2

post #31 of 40
Bblank,

I've heard a number of CIA students are interested in the PC industry. I'm curious though, is this something that is being taught there now or do grads just decide that they don't want the headache of a restaurant? I'm still struggling with the idea because I feel that I have give up the immediate gratification of see a plated meal for a customer. As a CIA grad what has attracted you to PCing?
Ciao!

"I Am Not Afraid... I Was Born To Do This." Joan of Arc
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Ciao!

"I Am Not Afraid... I Was Born To Do This." Joan of Arc
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post #32 of 40

Life after CIA

I had the idea of doing the PC thing before even applying to the CIA. As a 50+ Y/O career changer, the idea of working the line in a hotel or restaurant was about as far from my career path as Bejing is from Philadelphia!

Unfortunately I discovered after about 7 months of the AOS program that the CIA is more about production than what I was looking forward to in a culinary education. I recently took a leave of absence to explore my career options and PCing is definitely one of them. I can cook, I have opened, run and sold 3 businesses in other lives but I'm just learning the PC biz (pricing, menu planning, storage options, etc., etc., etc.)

I hope this answers your question.

PS - Many of the PCs I've spoke with are doing it because they were fed-up with many aspects of the restaurant biz - hours, pay, holidays, vacations, etc. One PC graduated from the CIA over 10 yrs ago and worked in the restaurant biz after doing a stint in France - Now they're making 3-4 times as much as a personal chef!
"Old enough to know better, but still young enough not to really care!"
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"Old enough to know better, but still young enough not to really care!"
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post #33 of 40
I've been away from ChefTalk for too long. It's been very interesting to read this thread. I own a personal chef business in the Chicago area and I serve as the Midwest Regional Director of the American Personal Chef Association. I teach seminars in the midwest about once per month for people looking to start up their own personal chef businesses. Don't worry, I'm not going to try to put the hard sell on anyone to join -- just wanted to offer my support to anyone interested in the industry.

I've often said that if you actually want to cook and make decent money doing it this is virtually the only route to take. Especially for the career-changer following their cooking passion. I can completely identify with not being able to consider working for peanuts in a restaurant after earning real money in another, albeit unsatisfying, career.

I would be more than happy to talk to anyone who is thinking about becoming a personal chef. I have no problem answering any questions you may have just because you haven't forked over the money to join our organization. You can contact me via e-mail or phone or post a message here and I'll do my best to stay on top of it. I won't bash the "other guys" -- in fact, I encourage you to look into both of the major organizations and make the choice that's right for you.

Regards,

Mike Sodaro
Owner, Pinch of Thyme Personal Chefs, Inc.
Midwest Regional Director, American Personal Chef Association
Downers Grove, IL
(630) 795-0100
post #34 of 40
Pinch of Thyme? Pinch of thyme.... :confused:... .hmmmm where have I seen that before? I remember :bounce: I browsed your website a few months ago. I was trying to see how it was set up and the pricing structure etc. ;) I am still waiting for my admission to the APCA message board but Larry seems to be taking his time. :cool:


Funny Bruce, I'm currently watching an auction on that very book. It is being offered for pennies but it does have 4 days to go before the auction is over so who knows. That is what I meant about the yield percentage. I understand the formulas that were given on the spreadsheet but could not figure out where they were getting the 80% for an apple to plug in there. I did an extensive internet search after the posts here and up popped the book on Chefdesk.com :D

Sodaro

As soon as I can compose a few questions I will post a few.

Jodi


Edit:

Drat.....just thought of one. :rolleyes: I just can't help myself sometimes. :D I only want your opinion on this question.

1. Do you think the materials are for the cook who does not understand business or the businessman/woman who does not know many recipes but loves to cook? Or both?

2. If the cook is a pretty good business person, why is there not an option to just join the organization to pay dues and pay for the liability insurance? Or did I miss this option somewhere?

3. Now I know that it is said that a Personal Chef doesn't have to go to culinary school, but I believe that knowledge of Mise en Place (the mental kind) is essential. As a former home cook, I know for a fact that most of us hardly ever plan out what has to go on the fire and in what order to get it done quicker. Or how to cost out recipes so you know if one is running a little high in the instep (price wise) so your customer isn't left with a big bill plus your fee. I think these bits of information would be essential to the business. It is one thing to love cooking at home and another to try to do it professionally.

4. Does anyone think to figure in mileage to the fee? Cost out how much gas it takes to get you from your home to, say, 10 miles away? An estimate. :confused: It is an expense that adds up.

What are your thoughts?

Ok....it's 4 questions. :blush: My mind goes on the fast track when it gets started.

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #35 of 40
Just wanted to ask a few questions ( yes I know :rolleyes: ) that are in regards to this one.

As an organization is the APCA required to back up the knowledge and certification of their members? Is that why the materials are given out? I know the insurance is on a group deal (or so I heard) so I just started thinking that if someone who is not trained.......err...doesn't know how the APCA does business, was sued etc. (for breakage of equipment or some such thing) would the insurance premiums go up? :confused:

I mean, the working PCs are using the APCA's good name to help promote their business so I would think they would want them to understand how to do business the APCA's way. Right?

Sorry, Im just trying to figure out why materials are mandatory to some assoc./orgs.

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #36 of 40
Cat,

Have you thought about a Fresh PC Service?? I'm starting to see alot of PCs offering one. That way they can cook, plate and serve the meal. They do special occasions, holidays, anniversaries etc. Sounds like fun! :D

Customers can just pay for a set menu that you can change around whenever you want or to the clients tastes. Im leaning heavily towards this method for my niche. What new mommy is gonna have time to even press the microwave button and actually remember that there is food in there with a screaming newborn to tend to. :eek: I did that yesterday! I prepped a meal and tried to reheat later and my 2mth old woke up. So you can say I have insider knowledge on what a client would go through. :blush: :D

Now if I had a personal chef to cook and serve my food......I wouldn't be at California Pizza Kitchen at 9pm (not many customers to get agitated over the kids and baby) in order to sit and eat without the hassle of trying to cook a nutritious meal. Don't I sound like a PC brochure?? :D I've gotta patent that sentence!! :lol: :lol:

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #37 of 40
I'll try to answer all those questions. In general however it looks like you have some of the other organizations policies mixed up with ours. I know it can be confusing and I can only speak to how the APCA works.

1. The training is primarily business training -- we don't teach people how to cook. We do talk about freezing issues, packaging strategies, organizational skills, equipment recommendations and the like but no cooking per se. The training includes information on marketing, advertising, pricing, promotional materials, bookkeeping, types of businesses, insurance, legal issues, and day-to-day operational tips.

2. The APCA offers several levels of membership. Basically if you don't think you need any help but just want the benefits of membership you can join for $200. For that you get access to our forums, a link on our website so potential clients can find you, an -mail address if you want it etc. The website link is worth the $200 all by itself -- cook for one client that finds you that way once and it's paid for, ya know? Basic membership is $650 which also gets you the training materials, a day-in-the-life video, and a huge recipe collection. The most you can spend to join the APCA is $950. You get everything above but also get to attend a 2-day seminar with someone like me who will teach you everything you need to know to get your business off the ground.

3. APCA members all have their OWN insurance policies but we do get group rates. I've heard that the other organization provides insurance as part of their dues but I think that is a group policy (e.g., if one person uses up the benefits the rest are out of luck). I don't know if that's true or not but you would definitely want to make sure about that. The average APCA chef spends about $500/year on liability insurance.

4. Fresh service is definitely becoming the trend.

5. All inclusive versus fee-plus costing is a huge debate and our members are equally divided on the issue. It's really a personal decision and the details are just to involved to get into here. There is no right or wrong answer. The training materials cover this subject in great detail.

6. The APCA has just signed an agreement with the ACF regarding certification. The program will be rolled out early next year. We are working together on the criteria as we speak. The other organization "self-certifies" it's members. We prefered to go to the ACF because we feel a third party certification is more legit. Again, a personal decision on your part regarding how you feel about that.

7. Regarding mileage. Most chefs have a surcharge for clients located far from their home base. For example, I charge an extra $25 per cookdate for anyone more that an hour away. Other people do it differently. Whatever works for you.

Hope this helps!
post #38 of 40
An Absolutely FANTASTIC IDEA!! I did a check of the NJ Licenses etc. and found that the USPCA Certification is the only PC certification recognized for PCs. It will be great to have another option to certification. :)

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #39 of 40
Wow, leave for a few days and the thread breaks loose!! Thanks, ShawtyCat for asking all these questions. And, hats off to you, Sadaro, for providing some much needed answers. I will contact you soon. I just picked up two books from Amazon on freezing food. There are several books on this subject and are mainly geared towards cooking for your family every month. The two I bought were, Frozen Assets and The Freezer Cooking Manual by the 30-day Gourmet. I can't say that I care for the recipes but all the guidelines for freezing are in there as well as how to set up the cooking day. I am more inclined to offer a fresh service because I won't compromise taste and texture but after running some numbers it seems that you would not have nearly the number of clients as you could with the frozen service. If you're cooking more often for one client then you have to forgo cooking for someone else. I've seen one website where the pc charges higher fees for more frequent service to one customer. Does this make any sense to anyone? I've also seen a site where the pc now has a commercial kitchen and delivers meals after receiving them over the website. She posts a menu and has a deadline date for ordering about 4 days before she shops so she can efficiently produce meals to more clients. She pc'd for 5 years first.

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.
Ciao!

"I Am Not Afraid... I Was Born To Do This." Joan of Arc
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Ciao!

"I Am Not Afraid... I Was Born To Do This." Joan of Arc
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post #40 of 40
Cat

I also have the 30 day Gourmet. I don't care for the recipes there either. I found most of the other info to be mainly common sense. Like if you are making 3 dishes that require tomato sauce...add up all the ounces needed for the dishes and buy a big can that is close to the total.

The 30 day gourmet site (your password should be in the back of the book) message boards are kind of bare..:( Let me know what your thoughts are on the Frozen Assets book.

:) Jodi :)


Edit: Yeah that makes sense to me..........

In a Frozen Service you are there for 5 - 7 hours cooking, cooling, packaging, labeling and cleaning up. You will service that client only once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month. Depends on what they want but you are usually there infrequently. Not much creativity beyond the menu conception, really.

In a Fresh Service you are there possibly every day for a little less time (maybe 5 hours......you have to count in an app, side, entree and dessert plus plating and serving then cleanup) but you are at that one client for a few days each week. It is understandable that this service will be a bit more expensive. You would only have to get, say, two clients for 3 days a week with one day off or three clients a week for 2 days a piece with one day off to be profitable. It sounds nicely challenging. :)

Almost like being on Iron Chef. :D Same panel more of a challenge to keep the food interesting but you do understand the workings of each individual's tastebuds.

Drat! I think I wrote a book again. :rolleyes: One of these days I have to learn not to talk so much. :D



Edit 2: Don't you say one word about this addition! :cool:

Forgot to add that with the Fresh Service some folks may think that you would have to change your menu frequently but I find that most people after frequenting an establishment for a while usually have a few selections that they find comfortable and always order. You could just change one or two items every month to keep it fresh. I dont think there is a need for a complete menu overhaul.
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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