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Personal Chefs...and grocery shopping

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I am a caterer but I've been considering a personal chef opportunity during my slow days. I will be charging an hourly rate plus the cost of groceries. For the life of me I can't figure out how the grocery shopping thing works, it can't possibly be this hard! For all the personal chefs out there how do you:


a) Get the money from the client to go shopping? (We can assume I will be the one doing the shopping.) I can't see asking for a deposit before I go shopping and then adding or subtracting the remainder from my total fee, that's messy. But, I also can't possibly be expected to know EXACTLY how much groceries for any particular week will cost. It's not like anyone's going to hand me a blank check! Do you use your own funds and then get reimbursed? Having learned some things the hard way that sends chills down my spine!




b) Do most of you shoot for an average grocery bill as a general practice just to be relatively consistent one week to the next? Like the way many of us in other jobs use a percentage of our total fee to dictate food costs? I know it depends on the style of food and the preferences of the client (like organic/conventional ingredients, super exotic fru fru stuff...) I can always ask my client to give me a weekly grocery limit to work within but when I ask these types of questions I always like to have a number prepared in my head so I can negotiate politely and fairly.

post #2 of 8

Welcome to Cheftalk CKWwild.


A lot of what you ask here is something you need to work out with the client.


I am a private Chef for a family, different from what you are talking about but we do share many similarities.


Each Sunday, I sit at the computer and create a menu for the week. Sometimes I am asked to make a family favorite, but mostly I am free to make whatever I want, given their dietary and personal restrictions.


I make a grocery list from that menu and shop for that menu.  The house kitchen has many staples so I am merely shopping for proteins and vegetables.


In my instance I am given a credit card to use, so there is no money exchanging hands.


You need to talk with the client first to figure this all out.  Good luck.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the response (and the welcome!) Chefross. I will definitely be talking with my prospective client. I'm doing as much "homework" as possible beforehand. He's on a very specific diet for health reasons which is going to help dictate costs out of pure necessity. Often this type of client has never hired a personal chef before and it's not so much a luxury as a necessity. I know it will really help things along if I am able to take the lead, he's got so much on his plate right now.

post #4 of 8
The only way to shop for groceries and not use your own money up front, is to estimate a grocery deposit and invoice that to your client prior to the cook date. Most of my clients pay me in advance of each cook date, but for my clients (or their assistants) who are home while I'm cooking, I'm ok with them paying me same day.

The way it works is that my clients pay me a week in advance. That payment includes my service fee plus a grocery deposit. The client will pay that same amount each week (which they appreciate and find convenient) and then at the end of each month, I true-up the receipts against the grocery deposits and issue them a "credit" or "balance due" at the beginning of each month. That way, only once a month there's a different amount for them to pay. And if you balance your grocery receipts out each week, then at the end of the month, you just add up the differences and you're done!

I hope this helps!
post #5 of 8

Company credit card, with accompanying receipts of everything that was purchased down to the last penny.  That is how it is done

post #6 of 8
Actually, the scenario you're describing is more applicable to a private chef. A personal chef services several clients and will cook at a clients home anywhere from once a week to once a month so there is no company credit card given to you.

I've been a personal chef for 6 years and for me, the method I described above works very well.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you very much BonnieG, that is EXACTLY the kind of information I was hoping to find.

post #8 of 8
You're welcome, CKWwild. I'm glad it was helpful to you!
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