You can probably think of many benefits of becoming a personal chef. For one, you get to work for yourself and run your own business. You're also making life much easier for your clients, who eat healthier thanks to you as their chef. So being a personal chef feels rewarding. As far as income, experienced personal chefs can earn between $250 and $600 per day, or $60,000 to $120,000 annually when working full time.
To top it all off, the personal chef industry just keeps growing in popularity among aging people who don't want to cook anymore and working families who don't have time to cook. So when you pursue a career as a personal chef you can rest assured that there are many opportunities for your services.
But how does one get to the point of being able to cook for others in order to increase their health and quality of life?
Finding your niche
A main component of cooking for others is helping them to feel their best through wholesome ingredients. If you’re interested in cooking and beginning the process of becoming a personal chef, it’s likely that you’re interested in clean, healthy eating. It’s also likely that you’re interested in inspiring others to eat better as well.
Finding your niche in cooking is about utilizing your own style and methodology of cooking. Ask yourself: What style of cooking do I enjoy most? Which foods and meals help me to feel my best? How can I use this mode of cooking and eating to help others thrive as well?
Here are some examples of niches that you can consider when moving forward with becoming a personal chef. Since a plant-based diet is becoming increasingly popular among celebrities and people everywhere, the following list of cooking niches are centered around plants.
- Macrobiotic cooking is a powerful methodology that promotes optimal yin/yang balance throughout the body. This form of eating includes plenty of (preferably soaked or sprouted) well-chewed grains, beans, soups, vegetables, some fruits, and small amounts of fish if you decide to go the pescatarian route.
- Vegan is an exclusively plant-based diet, avoiding all animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy. This diet allows plenty of room for nutrient dense meals made entirely from plants. But be careful. Many are aware that veganism can be executed unhealthily. Think about it. soda is vegan, Oreos are vegan, chips are vegan, etc. And many vegan ingredients such as highly processed soy nuggets and other fake foods etc. are not really healthy choices. Fortunately as a personal chef you can make the difference for your clients in providing them with balanced meals made from wholesome ingredients.
- Raw Foods surrounds the idea that most of us aren’t eating enough raw plant foods. Raw menus, with a plethora of enzymes, nutrients, and probiotics, can give your clients a nutritional reset. Many clients like to occasionally do some type of cleanse such as a week or two of raw foods, or it may be a regular way of eating for them. Special equipment and planning is necessary when preparing raw food, as many ingredients like nuts are soaked overnight and then dehydrated all day. So planning accordingly to allow enough time is necessary as a raw chef.
- Vegetarianism and pescetarianism are a good balance for those feeling like they need nutrients from some form of animal products which could include wild-caught fish, pasture-raised eggs, and raw, grass-fed dairy.
What’s next after figuring out your cooking a nutritional niche?
Becoming a personal chef entails becoming a good chef
Cooking is an art that entails practice to obtain proficiency. With practice, you’ll become an expert in using herbs, spices, oils, cooking methods, and more.
There are self-taught personal chefs such as Rachel Ray and Jamie Oliver. But professional classes and training programs are another option. Whether you choose to obtain schooling for cooking or not, practice cooking every day. Use all the resources you can to become a great chef. Youtube and google searches have all the resources, lessons, recipes, and more that you need for excelling in cooking. Here at Natural Kitchen Cooking School we also offer an online Plant Based Cooking Mastery program to help you learn the basics of whole foods cooking in the form of instructional cooking videos and informative webinar classes. This is a great way to learn new plant-based recipes to add to your repertoire.
What supplies might you need?
Your clients may have a beautifully stocked kitchen with all the equipment you need. ...Or not. So you'll want to make sure that you have all of at least the basic cooking supplies you’ll need for being someone’s personal chef. These include stainless steel knives, some kind of meal planner, a stainless steel pastry scraper, and a non-slip portable cutting board. Also make sure to have your client's kitchen stocked with all the other supplies a chef would have including pans, pots, utensils, wooden spoons, etc. If the client doesn't have them you can either bring your own each time you cook for them, or ask your client if you can purchase them and get reimbursed.
You'll also need the right attire in the form of at least an apron, possibly featuring your business logo, and/or a chef coat which can also have your logo embroidered onto it. Comfortable, supportive, close-toed shoes are a must. Black pants and shoes are the norm to accompany a white chef coat.
Beginning your personal chef business
So now that you know your niche, know how to cook well, have the right supplies and are itching to begin sharing your magic with others, what should you do next?
Check the legality of setting up such a business where you live, purchase insurance, take a Servesafe course to obtain a Food Handler's license. Another option is to obtain a catering license if you wish to cater larger events. Your local department of health can advise you once you explain what you would like to do. The easiest option is to prepare all food in the client's home, but if you want to deliver your food you can look into renting a certified commercial prep kitchen in your area on an hourly or day rate basis. Sometimes firehalls, churches and synagogues have such kitchens for less cost.
Taking these steps will ensure the safety, legality, and trustworthiness of your business.
Now the fun part of becoming a personal chef
Once you have the nitty-gritty legality stuff out of the way, it’s time to build a solid clientele. To do this, you will want to create a website to display blog posts, a page explaining what your mission is and what you do, what specific services you offer, and an About page with a nice picture of yourself in a kitchen and/or wearing a chef coat. Your website should also include a page dedicated to explaining your pricing in detail, with optional Paypal buttons to make it easy for clients to book you. Or, alternatively, you can have people contact you for pricing details. Be sure to include a Contact page so they can get in touch.
You will also definitely want to offer what is known as a lead magnet, or an enticing free gift in exchange for their email address. This offer can appear in the form of an opt-in box on the side of your blog or as a pop up box that appears when they land on your website. Your offer can be a small guide, collection of your best 10 recipes, a checklist of tips for healthy eating etc. Think of something that your ideal client would benefit by.
There are many other ways you can market yourself as a personal chef, such as attending networking events in your area and distributing your business card, LinkedIn and social media such as Pinterest a beautiful Instagram page featuring your best dishes and some sample recipes, and/or a Youtube cooking show. Then there's the old fashioned going around your local area, especially to natural food stores and naturopathic practitioner offices to introduce yourself as a personal chef specializing in health-supportive delicious cuisine. You may get some quick referrals just from that last one!
You can also find out about festivals and events in your area where they might already feature cooking demos and get in touch to teach a class. Health food stores are often eager for free cooking demos as well, so offering free cooking classes is a great way to create warm leads with potential clients. Be sure to offer them a discount or coupon such as "Free dessert when you book your first personal chef service with me!" . Also always take a clipboard to pass around to collect their information so you can follow up with them.
Once you have clients, it’s a good idea to gather testimonials of the client’s experience with your services. Ask for headshots and a short summary of what they enjoyed most about working with you. This can be added to your website to build trust and your reputation. After all, your clients will be eating the food made by your hands. It’s a good idea to display the first-hand experience of your clients who appreciated your services.
Becoming a personal chef is a lifestyle
In closing, I want to say that becoming a personal chef is truly a lifestyle. By that, I mean a great amount of your energy will be centered around cooking as an art, business as the means of gaining clients, and the service of helping people thrive by eating wholesome, homemade meals.
Your rewards will be many, including helping others, more personal freedom, great income potential and the ability to do what you love, which hopefully at this point, is cooking!
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