Starting a Personal Chef Home Business

personal chef prepping vegetables for a dish
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For anyone who has a love for all things culinary, a personal chef home business could be very rewarding and potentially lucrative.

Personal chefs prepare meals for busy families, small home parties, corporate lunches, and for special events, such as birthdays or anniversaries. Anyplace there is a kitchen; a personal chef can come and prepare meals. 

If you've considered starting a catering business, a personal chef business is a great way to test the waters or to use your culinary skills without the hassle of starting a catering business, in which the cooking is usually done on a larger scale.

Many personal chefs specialize in specific areas such as gourmet foods or people with special diets. Pay will depend on experience, training, and type of menu requested.

Pros of Starting a Personal Chef Business

This type of venture has very low start-up costs. In most cases, you can use the kitchen supplies and equipment provided by the client. 

It's also a gig with relatively low overhead. Generally, anything you buy for the client will be reimbursed through your fees. So all you need is transportation, possibly cooking utensils (items may not be common in kitchens), and marketing costs.

You can grow this business, even part-time, at your own pace through referrals from satisfied clients and word-of-mouth advertising. Build a website that outlines your services and includes testimonials from satisfied clients. Word of mouth is very important for any new business, especially a sole proprietor.

Consider attending local networking groups to meet small business owners who might want a personal chef for their home or a business function. You might offer to cook for a networking event to show off your skills.

It may be worth joining the local chapter of the Personal Chef Association as well or starting a chapter in your area.

Practical Concerns

Professional chef experience and/or training, while not a requirement would be very helpful, and might allow you to charge more. You may be competing with trained chefs, so make sure you can explain why someone should hire you if you don't have a culinary school background.

All food-related businesses carry some liability exposure. In this case, a client could become ill or injured from your cooking. It's worth your time and possible investment to explore how much personal liability insurance would cost you. 

It might not be a good choice in tough economic times when people cut back on unnecessary extras and entertainment. But in affluent areas, this might not be an obstacle. As with any entrepreneurial venture, be sure to research your clientele before launching your business. 

Getting Started

Decide if you want to specialize in a particular area. For example, will you do only corporate parties and retreats? Will you be a vegan chef?

Complete the paperwork and other tasks related to starting a business, including getting a business license and setting up your business structure.

Create a menu of services as well as a menu of food you cook. Make sure you price your services to take into consideration your prep time, expenses, and your time. Remember, some foods cost more, so you'll need to consider that when providing a bid to a client.

Start recruiting clients. Start with your friends and family. Consider advertising or posting bulletins in your church or other organization, or at local stores. If friends and family have events coming up, offer to provide services for free or at a discount, to get a few big gigs under your belt.