Personal Chefs


Employment Prospects


Approximately 10,000 personal chefs work in the United States, according to the American Personal and Private Chef Association. Nearly all personal chef services are owned and operated by individuals, though some well-established chefs serving a largely populated, affluent area may hire assistants. Aspiring personal chefs who live in one of these areas and have some cooking experience and education may be able to hire on as a cook with a big personal chef operation. But most personal chefs will be in business for themselves and will promote their services in areas near their home.

The majority of people who use the services of personal chefs are working couples between the ages of 35 and 55 who have household incomes over $50,000. Most of these couples have children. Personal chefs also work for people with disabilities and senior citizens.

Starting Out

The career of personal chef is really for those who have tried other careers and have some experience in the food and service industry. Personal chef courses offered by United States Personal Chef Association and accredited community colleges may eventually attract people with little cooking experience into the business. For now, though, a personal chef course and seminar isn't really enough to get you started unless you also have a culinary education, or a great deal of knowledge about cooking.

If you feel confident that you have the cooking knowledge necessary to prepare good-tasting, well-balanced meals for paying customers, then you should consider training through either the United States Personal Chef Association or the American Personal & Private Chef Association. Once you have a good sense of the requirements and demands of the job, you can start seeking out clients. Because you'll be cooking with the stoves and appliances of your clients, you don't need to invest much money into starting up your business. An initial investment of about $1,000 will buy you some quality cookware and utensils. But you'll also need a reliable vehicle, as you'll be driving to the grocery store and to the homes of your clients every day.

Volunteer your services for a week or two to friends and neighbors who you think might be interested in hiring you. Print up some fliers and cards, and post your name on community bulletin boards. You may have to offer a low, introductory price to entice clients to try your services.

Advancement Prospects

Most personal chefs only cook for one or two clients daily, so maintaining between five and 10 clients will keep them pretty busy. If a personal chef is able to attract many more customers than they can handle, it may be beneficial for them to hire assistants and to raise their prices. As they grow their business, personal chefs may choose to expand into other areas, like catering large events, writing food-related articles for a local newspaper or magazine, or teaching cooking classes. They may also meet with owners of grocery stores and restaurants, consulting with them about developing their own meal take-out services.

Tips for Entry

Learn about cooking and being a chef by visiting Chef Talk,

Contact a personal chef in your area by going to Ask questions about their job and how they got started. If they are extremely busy, perhaps they will have work available as an assistant.

Ask friends and family what types of foods they like and create a menu based on their preferences and restrictions. This will give you experience in creating client-specific menus.