This post will cover how to start a personal chef business from home, any certification you may need, as well as how you can attract customers to your door.
What Does a Personal Chef Do?
A personal chef is typically asked to prepare a meal or a series of meals for the client. This may be for a special event or an ongoing service. Chefs are usually responsible for shopping for quality ingredients, prepping and cooking delicious meals, as well as clean up after the task.
Requirements to Be a Personal Chef
Surprisingly enough, there are very few actual requirements to becoming a personal chef. Despite the name, you don’t need culinary training to open your own business (you may need it if you work through different agencies). That being said, there are a few things that will help you get started on the right foot:
How Much Do Professional Chefs Earn?
Depending on the job and your relationship with your client, you may choose to charge hourly or per job. Many people starting out choose to charge between $15 – 25 per hour depending on where they live and their experience. You may want to look at what other professionals in the industry are charging where you live.
How to Start a Home Business as a Personal Chef
Starting a home business as a personal chef is a lot of work and there will be many things you will need to consider. From choosing your niche to filling your first orders, this step-by-step guide will walk you through the decisions you will need to make along the way so that you can find the customers you need.
Step 1: Decide What You want to Cook
The first step you’ll need to take is to determine what type of food you will want to create to sell. Whether you focus on a specific style of food or create unique, tasty fusions, you will need to be able to showcase your product.
If you are unsure of what you should make, ask friends and family members what kind of foods they like you to make. If you frequently cook for those you love, they will have a good idea of where your strengths lie. This information could help you determine where you should focus.
Step 2: Decide on Your Business Plan
Some home chefs create food for families on a regular basis. This will often be the case for families who are busy but have specific dietary needs or just want to have home-cooked meals regularly without having to do the work themselves.
Other chefs will hire themselves out for private occasions, much like a catering service. They will work at a person’s home while they have a dinner party and create special plates for the guests.
Step 3: Set Up a Business Plan
Before you open your home business, you must first set up an effective business plan. This includes writing down what products you intend to offer, how you’re going to market yourself, how you’re going pay any expenses, extra utilities, insurance costs, taxes, inventory needs, marketing strategies, etc.
You don’t necessarily need to write everything down, but having a general idea of what’s involved in running a small business will help keep you organized as you go forward.
Step 4: Get Training and Experience
Again, you don’t technically need certification in order to work as a personal chef, but it can definitely help you find more clients. It is a good idea to continually practice your techniques and expand what you can do in the kitchen. You will be able to use those skills to expand your menu and find more clients who are interested in your cuisine.
Whether you choose to take classes to expand your repertoire, or you focus on finding new and delicious ways to make vegan Mexican food, continual practice will make things better over time. You should also always work to improve the basics of your work, such as knifework and honing your instincts.
Step 5: Gather The Right Equipment And Supplies
Once you have decided on your business plan, you’ll need to get all the necessary equipment and supplies needed to run your home business. While you may already have a lot of tools on hand, you may need to buy smaller items like baking pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, spatulas, whisks, oven mitts, pizza stones, parchment paper, etc.
Finally, you may need to purchase packaging material, labels, business cards, and other marketing materials that you will use to make you look more professional.
Step 6: Advertise Your Business
Even if you make the best spaghetti in the world, you will never get a single order unless people know you exist. Use marketing strategies that work well in your area. You can also ask your friends and family to help you out by letting people know you are opening a home bakery. Check out the marketing strategies later in the article for further help.
It can take a little while for your business to take off. Just continue to put yourself out there and hand out business cards should the need arise.
Step 7: Serve Your Customers With a Smile
Once you start getting business, it is important to remember to go the extra mile to make your customers happy (especially in the beginning). You want positive buzz around town about your business and the products you have to offer.
What You Need to Be a Personal Chef
In order to open a successful business, you will need both specialized skills and supplies. Here are a few things you may need:
Skills You Need to Be a Personal Chef
If you are interested in becoming a personal chef, you should have the following skills (other than the ability to cook):
Creativity and Innovation
You need to be innovative and creative to create cooked meals that are a step above what people can get from takeout. Create fresh and unique flavors and work on your decoration skills so that you can present a valuable product to your potential customers.
You will also need a strong eye for detail and a keen sense. If something seems off, you may need to recook or reprep a portion of your meal so that you aren’t serving anything that is inferior and would give your brand a bad name.
Work Ethic and a Mind for Business
While you can hire people to help you, as the main chef in your business, you may have to manage most everything yourself, especially in the beginning. You should know how to manage your business finances and you need to have business know-how. You will also need business sense, or else you’re going to lose your investment and waste a lot of time.
The most important thing you’ll need is passion. If you don’t love cooking, it’s never going to work long-term. People can tell if you love what you create. The better you get at creating flavorful meals that showcase your true passion, the more clients you’ll be able to earn.
Items You Need to Become a Personal Chef
When opening up a business it’s important that you have all of the necessary equipment in place before beginning operations. Fortunately, if you already cook (or you plan to cook in others’ homes), you probably already own the majority of the items you need. These items include things like:
You will definitely need a kitchen with an oven or stovetop, a refrigerator/freezer, a mixer (unless you plan to do everything by hand… which could become difficult very quickly), a cooling system (if required), and freezers (if required).
Some of the kitchen accessories you may need will include cutting boards, measuring cups and spoons, pots and pans, baking sheets, a bread machine, oven mitts, safety glasses, food storage containers, and gloves.
You may need to have some disposable or cleaning products on hand, such as paper towels, disposable gloves, and cleaning supplies.
To run your business, you will likely need a computer, a phone line, internet access, insurance coverage, proper licenses, signs, order forms, advertising materials, a cash register, a receipt system, and a credit card reader.
Costs of Starting a Home Chef Business
Building a successful home business as a personal chef will require substantial planning, but it can be a very lucrative business. Fortunately, since you are marketing yourself, there are only a few costs that you will need to consider. These include the following:
The cost of your kitchen equipment and supplies. Primarily, you will need to invest in a good-quality knife set that will last several years before needing replacement. Many home chefs will spend between $250 -$500 dollars for a complete set including knives, cutting boards, spatulas, tongs, serving dishes, measuring cups, mixing bowls, etc. It’s important to get something sturdy because you’ll use them every day!
Advertising and Promotion
Your initial investment in advertising and promotion. This may include buying an ad or two on local television stations, radio spots, newspapers, magazines, etc., plus any other promotional items such as brochures, flyers, postcards, etc.
You may also want to buy some food samples for display at events where people can try your food in person. Soups and bread work perfectly as small bites that people can enjoy.
A small amount of money each month to pay for utilities like electricity, gas, water, phone service, internet access, cable TV, etc. If you have a computer with a high-speed internet connection, this is not much more than $20 per month. However, if you do not already own one, then you should expect to spend about $100-$200 upfront to purchase a basic PC laptop. In addition, you will probably need a printer/scanner combination costing around $150-300.
An additional monthly expense of approximately $50-$75 would cover the cost of having your meals delivered to customers’ homes (if you deliver them yourself). Depending upon how many hours you work each week, you could easily make enough money from delivering meals to offset these delivery expenses.
Ways to Keep Your Costs Down
Once you’ve purchased all of your equipment, you’re ready to start cooking. The final step towards becoming successful involves keeping costs down. Here are some ways to save money:
Use free resources available online such as websites created specifically for personal chefs. Many sites contain recipes, information about ingredients, helpful hints, and even sample menus.
Consider purchasing used kitchen appliances. Used appliances usually cost significantly less than new ones. And since you’ll likely never replace an appliance anyway, buying secondhand makes sense.
That being said, don’t skimp on equipment. Investing in high-quality pots, pans, knives, cutting boards, etc., is essential because these tools make cooking easier and more enjoyable.
Coupons and Discounts
Look for coupons and discounts wherever possible. Most grocery stores now offer special deals for professional cooks. If they do not, check local newspapers and magazines for advertisements offering reduced prices.
Budget Ahead of Time
Before opening your business, you need to fix a budget. This way, you will know if you are on track and making money. While you will likely lose a little money in the beginning while you are investing in supplies, keeping track long-term will help you know if you should stay in this business venture.
You should also plan for the future of your business. Not only will you need licenses, but there are also hidden costs like maintenance and inventory. It is better to make a conservative estimate of your expenses and use some money as reserves. You will also want to budget some money for marketing.
The nice thing about opening a home chef business is that you will likely already have several of the items you already need. You may need to invest in baking utensils, commercial mixing and kneading machines, cooling racks, oven mitts, pastry bags, and more. If you want to be extra careful, you can also invest in a fire extinguisher and a refrigerated display cabinet.
Pros and Cons of Being a Personal Chef
As a business owner, you will find that there are a lot of pros and cons of being a personal chef that you will want to consider. If you know that the disadvantages will not bother you, it may be the perfect business venture for you.
Benefits to Being a Personal Chef
Some of the pros of becoming a personal chef will include the following:
Difficulties to Running a Home Bakery
In addition to the above benefits, there are also some things that can make being a home chef difficult. These things will include the following:
How to Attract Customers to Your Home Chef Business
The best way to attract new customers to your personal chef business is through word of mouth. This means telling friends and family members about the delicious homemade meals you make. When buying things to eat, people generally prefer to purchase from someone they know they can trust. As you build up reviews, you will be able to expand your marketing strategy.
Here are a few more things you can try:
Another good idea is to place flyers around town announcing your availability. It’s important to note that this strategy works better when you already have established relationships with potential clients, but if you have a social media presence or a website you can direct them to, the flyers will help with the initial presentation.
While you are pushing to your social media, make sure that you take stunning images of your dishes as you complete them. Write strong captions as you post them so that people will want to learn more.
Discounts to Regulars
You could also try offering discounts to regular customers. Many grocery store chains give out coupons to loyal shoppers. So why not use these same tactics? Offer special deals like free bread with a full meal.
Another option is to advertise online. There are generally numerous local websites or Facebook pages where you can post ads for your services. Some sites charge fees while others let you list your ad for free. Make sure to include photos of your finished product along with any other relevant details.
Similar Work at Home Jobs
Some similar work-at-home jobs to being a personal chef may include the following:
Home bakers create food products in their kitchens and sell them on the side or at farmer’s markets. Depending on cottage food laws in their area, they may also be able to sell to local coffee shops. Some home bakers are also caterers. They are using their knowledge of cooking to create a business to make extra money. Most home bakers serve baked goods that are fresh, homemade, and healthy. If local laws allow, some may sell their baked goods online to other places within their state.
In the past, people who liked to cook had to rely on local cookbooks or the TV for recipes. Now, with the help of the Internet and the advancement of technology, recipe bloggers can easily share their favorite recipes with the world. A recipe blogger, also known as a recipe developer, is a person who creates recipes for cooking. The recipes can be for different types of cuisine and can even include photographs of the finished product, as well as the ingredients list and the ingredients themselves. These bloggers write a recipe blog, take photos of the recipe, edit them, and respond to their readers.
YouTube Cooking Channel
YouTube is a video-sharing website, where members of the site can upload their videos. If you are passionate about baking, you can create a YouTube channel that will share recipes, baking tips, and more. These channels are a great way to share your love of cooking with others. While it takes a while to get a YouTube channel going (as you need to draw in new viewers), when you get enough traction, you can earn passive income on your old videos while continuing to create new content for your viewers.