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Personal Cheffing: A Culinary Career for the Chef Entrepreneur

Personal cheffing has become a 50 million dollar a year culinary market that's expected to escalate, according to the USPCA. With names like Quality Thyme Catering, Add More Thyme, and Gathering Time, these culinary businesses provide what many busy families no longer can: home-cooked family meals. Once every week or two, while the family's out, the personal chef arrives to cook in the home kitchen, leaving behind a fresh meal and a variety of frozen dinners that the family can heat and eat.

Personal Chef: Shaping a Culinary Career

Why be a personal chef? "Personal cheffing is easier than catering; it's less stressful," chef Cam Reece explains to his Appleton, Wisconsin newspaper. Still, this culinary career path requires planning and business savvy.

Here's how it works:

  • A personal chef meets with the client to find out food preferences, allergies, and dietary needs. Some chefs use a food questionnaire.
  • Pricing is tricky, and many chefs offer a basic weekly or bi-weekly food package, then include a rate for each additional person. Customers who want pricier diets pay more as do those who want frequent visits.
  • The personal chef typically spends 3-6 hours in a family's kitchen, preparing the food and leaving instructions for its heating.

The freedom and flexibility of personal cheffing appeals to chefs who have culinary degrees and restaurant burnout. No wonder this culinary career is considered one of the best home businesses of the 21st century.

Cooking Schools Cater to Personal Chef Training

In the past five years, cooking schools have begun offering culinary degrees and certificates tailored to independent souls who would rather shape a culinary career through personal cheffing than restaurant employment. The difference between the personal chef curriculum and the standard culinary degree fare is the emphasis on business.

To be a personal chef, you'll need to know how to cook, of course, but you'll also have to learn how to shape a business plan and market yourself to attract a long-term clientele. Then, you can launch your very own entrepreneurial culinary career.

Sources:

  • The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century, by Paul Edwards. (Tarcher, 1999).
  • "Kitchen confidential," by Alicia Androich. Canadian Business 76.8 (Apr 28, 2003).
  • "Some Appleton, Wis., Cooking Experts become Personal Chefs," by Judy Waggoner. The (Appleton, WI) Post-Crescent (Sep 23, 2001).
  • U.S. Personal Chef Association
  • "Woman starts personal chef business so families can enjoy meals together," by Christina Abel. The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union (Jun 18, 2005).