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Person Chef Business questions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

I just joined so this is my first post ever. I have been reading things here for a few years off and on especially about the PC business.

 

Which forum do I ask questions on regarding this topic? When I went to professional chef forum it told me not to write anything as I am not a "professional chef."

 

I would love to get advice on the Personal Chef  business which I have been researching for 3 years and would like to start. No, I am not a prof. chef, just a serious home cook and baker who has taken short term cooking and baking classes the last 15 years and studied cooking almost on a daily basis from cook books for the last 20 years. I cook daily at home, so I do have some practice but not in a busy restaurant which I know is totally different. If I need to do further culinary training, I am totally open to that but first I want to figure out if the business is financially a viable one. I have to date analyzed the numbers and have questions regarding the clientele I am looking to serve.

 

I have seen great advice here previously so I finally joined.

 

Thanks a lot.

post #2 of 9

@Brandon ODell & @PeteMcCracken are both personal chefs on this forum, they might chime in here and give you some insight.

post #3 of 9
Personal cheffing is a "viable" business, as long as you're in the right market. As with any other business, marketing is the most important skill you need. "Word of mouth" is not enough. You need a solid plan and a budget to market successfully if you want to be a full time personal chef.

From an experience standpoint, you'll need some professional cooking experience. Cooking at home isn't the same no matter how long you do it. You can't even begin to fathom what you don't know until you've spent some time in a high volume scratch kitchen. Culinary school and a couple years apprenticeship would be ideal. I've interviewed many home cooks claiming to be culinary experts and none have ever passed the initial culinary test. Beyond culinary knowledge, there's just too many speed and technique specific skills you need school and/or experience to learn.

If you can do it full time, personal cheffing is a great way to make a living as far as food service jobs go.
Edited by Brandon ODell - 2/26/14 at 6:18pm

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon ODell View Post

I've interviewed many home cooks claiming to be culinary experts and none have ever passed the initial culinary test.

 @Brandon ODell Now you got me curious Brandon . If you don't mind sharing, what is your initial test?

post #5 of 9
Its just a series of culinary questions I use to weed out cooks without the right experience. Mostly, I ask for verbal recipes for classic dishes that require common techniques used in many dishes. I don't focus much on terms. Knowing the French name for a 1/4 dice doesn't tell me how much experience someone has, whereas asking them to name me 5 different leaveners and tell me how they are used, or 5 ways to thicken a sauce, do.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #6 of 9

I see. Thanks for your answer. 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks Brandon.

 

I am looking to do maybe 30 hours a week as a P.C. if this takes off. I have been seriously researching this career for 3 years. I have read 3-4 books on how to be a Personal Chef (I know I study too much) and now I have 2 potential clients who I asked to test my meals for one week first free of charge and then to provide me with an evaluation and let me know if they want the service. We have already discussed what it will cost.  They are both pastors and that is the area I want to concentrate on first as I am familiar with working with them from a previous career job and I know they need help in the cooking area and are very busy!  One asked me already if I would also consider doing a small dinner party next month. So,  I am preparing 4 sample menus for him to pick one. It is only a few priests so it will be perfect to start and I will cook at his rectory kitchen.

 

I want this trial period to see if I can cook 20 meals in one day (it would ideally be 5 meals for 4 pastors), how long it will take to shop first and cook and package and how much it will cost-- are my calculations in the ballpark? And furthermore, to see if I like it and/or can bear it. I have no idea if it will turn out to be too hectic for me or not. At this point I do not have quick knife skills and many other things needed I guess. But I might be better at this than I realize, who knows.

 

It took me so long to start this as up until a few months ago I was managing my husband's business for 10 years. Now that I am not any longer, I am free to start something else. I have enough experience about the business side of things, so I not worried about how to keep track of costs, do bookkeeping on software, deal with accountants, quarterly taxes, what an LLC vs. sole proprietorship,  etc. Instead, I am worried about how to cook well and yet freeze it without freezer burn and then hope it heats up correctly or how to use a pressure cooker if this is necessary!

 

I realize I am limited in speed and experience but as far as home practice and study I have put in a lot of hours. Regarding your question on sauce thickners, I will take a stab at it, promising I have looked nothing up!

 

I would say the following thicken sauces from my experience and reading: flour, corn starch, arrowroot and full fat cream. I know that half and half does not work, milk also not great and sour cream curdles. When I make home made creame fraiche this also does a good job. Not sure what the 5th answer could be or if any of these are what you are looking for. If I make a fool out of myself, oh well...!

 

Looking forward to your responses!

post #8 of 9
Our chefs typically make between 30 and 50 total meal portions per day. They cook for two families each day 15-25 portions each. Sometimes they'll do three families if they are smaller or individuals. We've found in our market that our service isn't a very good value for individuals, but a great deal for families, so our marketing focuses mainly on families. Marketing has to be my primary responsibility to keep 6 chefs working.

On the question, I never said there were only 5 ways to thicken a sauce, I just asked for 5. That alone would have been a big red flag in my interview as it shows me where your experience level is without asking another question or even hearing your answers. Average cooks can rattle off a few basic thickeners and make it to 5. Better cooks mention "reduction", "butter", "eggs" and other methods or ingredients that require some experience to be comfortable enough with them to mention.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #9 of 9
Not meaning to be snide btw. Your success/failure overall isn't going to hinge on your cooking expertise per se, its going to hinge on you finding customers, setting their expectations where you not only can meet them but where they also find a good value, then delivering on the expectations you set.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
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