Personal Chefs


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A home economics course can give you a good taste of what it's like to be a personal chef. You'll learn something about cooking, budgeting for groceries, and how to use various cooking equipment and appliances. A course in health will teach you about nutrition and a proper diet. Take a business course that offers lessons in bookkeeping and accounting to help you prepare for the record-keeping aspect of the job. A composition or communications course can help you develop the writing skills you'll need for self-promotion. Join a business organization for the chance to meet with small business owners, and to learn about the fundamentals of business operation.

Postsecondary Training

Both the American Personal & Private Chef Association and the United States Personal Chef Association offer self-study courses and seminars on the personal chef business. These courses are not designed to teach people how to cook, but rather how to start a service, how to market it, how much to charge for services, and other concerns specific to the personal chef business. These courses also offer recipes for foods that freeze and store well.

A formal education isn't required of personal chefs, but a good culinary school can give you valuable cooking experience. With a degree, you can pursue work in restaurants, hotels, health care facilities, and other industries needing the expertise of professional cooks. Culinary programs include courses in vegetarian cooking, menu design, food safety and sanitation, along with courses like economics and math.

Sullivan University, in partnership with the American Personal & Private Chef Association, was the first accredited culinary-arts program to offer a diploma specific to the roles of personal chefs. Visit for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

To become a certified personal chef with the United States Personal Chef Association, you must work for at least two years as a personal chef. One quarter to one half of the personal chefs working in the United States and Canada are certified, but certification isn't required to work in the business.

Since you'll be working in the kitchens of your clients, you won't need licensing, or to adhere to the health department regulations of commercial kitchens. A few states, however, do charge permit fees, and require some inspections of the vehicle in which you carry groceries and cooking equipment.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Personal chefs begin gaining experience by taking cooking classes, working in restaurants, or catering. You will need to be able to prove yourself as an excellent chef before going into business and acquiring enough clients to sustain yourself financially. As a business owner, you will need to be organized, personable, and able to market your business. Chefs must understand food safety regulations and dietary restrictions.