Over the years I’ve gotten many, many calls and emails from aspiring personal chefs, wondering if they really have the skills, training, temperament etc to start their own business. I’ve taught classes on the subject and consulted with people one on one, and I always start with the same response: if you love to cook and are good at it, that’s really all you need. Everything else, you can develop over time. (Of course, you also need to be able to be in the kitchen for sometimes long hours, and lugging bags of gear and groceries around should be something you can handle too. Or you can hire an assistant to help – some chefs I know bring along a family member, or hire a student or aspiring culinary worker to help).
If you’ve ever thought about becoming a personal chef, a few things to consider as a starting point:
- Culinary school or training programs can be helpful, but not necessary. Most PCs I know have no formal culinary training.
- Business skills ARE important for any business – basic bookkeeping, attracting customers, simple marketing and communications. I suggest a course or workshop on starting a small business. Look to your local colleges, the SBA, government programs in your state, and other programs that specialize in helping you launch new businesses (such as this one in Massachusetts, or this one.)
- Membership in a professional organization can be a big help to get you started (and can also be a great way to get insurance for your business). Check out the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA) or the American Personal & Private Chefs Association.
You can also check out my ebook: “Cook for a Living: Becoming a Personal Chef”!
It’s based on my 13+ years experience as a personal chef, cooking for clients and also working with dozens of people on starting their businesses. I’m happy to answer your questions, too!