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The Life of a Personal/Private Chef

March 27, 2014

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The role of a Domestic Chef is truly diverse and interesting to say the least.   However, making the decision to venture into the domestic realm of culinary arts comes with some surprises, as there is a lot more to being a Private Chef than one may assume. Marilyn Frobuccino, award-winning restaurant chef turned celebrity personal chef, notes that there are some important things to consider if you are making the leap from Restaurant Chef to Private Chef.

Menu Planning/Ingredient Sourcing

A restaurant has the same fixed menu for a period of time. You master the same rotation of dishes and walk into work every day with a general sense of what to expect.

When you work with a private family or individual, you could be preparing up to 21 different meals per week, not including snacks, desserts or larger meals for gatherings both large and small. In addition, you need to be flexible and sensitive to work with the dietary needs and restrictions of your employer. If the family is vegan/vegetarian, you will be expected to create dishes in accordance with those guidelines for every meal.

Accountability/Flexibility

A restaurant has operating hours, you know what time you are due in and you leave about the same time every night. As a Private Chef, you are accountable for yourself. You manage yourself, your time and your product from start to finish.  The hectic and erratic schedules of a family or individual require you to be extremely flexible.

“A client expects their food to be fresh so if it takes them longer than usual to put their children to bed, you can’t leave dinner sitting out that whole time, you need to properly store it and have it reheated and re-plated when they are ready to sit down and eat,” explained Ms. Frobuccino, adding that the ability to “roll with the punches” is just a part of the job.

Work Environment

You are working in someone’s personal kitchen, meaning you have to make the best of the resources you have available to you and work well with other household staff members. Unlike a restaurant environment, a domestic environment means you will have little to no interaction with other chefs. You will need to look outside of the workplace for inspiration that usually comes with collaboration and a large amount of resources.

Oftentimes, as a Private Chef, you have to source the ingredients yourself for meals, unlike working at a restaurant where you receive deliveries on a consistent basis. This means a lot of research and information gathering as to the best places to source particular ingredients within a reasonable distance of you workplace.

Travel:

In addition to being able to source fresh, quality ingredients near the home of your employer, a Private Chef will also be expected to find ingredients in any location if traveling with the family. For example, if you are on an island, you may need to go out 2-3 times a day to obtain all your products, as you are reliant on various shipment times of products.

Some families have two homes, typically a summer location and a winter location. During the summer, there is a larger chance that you will work on weekends, preparing meals for the family and their guests.

Of course, every Private Chef role is tremendously different; whether it is a full-time chef position, seasonal position, freelance or part-time chef positions. Other variables include family size (including how many children are in the family), dietary restrictions, how often the Chef is expected to cook formally or for large or small parties and how much travel is included in the position.

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