2 be a Personal Chef

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by garlicman, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. garlicman

    garlicman

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    As a careear change student Chef I have thought of many positions I could assume upon my graduation. (June of next year). Clearly I havnt the speed to work in a fast paced resturaunt. I am presently doing my internship in a retirement communities kitchen, not the most challangening but the hours are getting logged and I dont have to kill myself and get up the next day to go to class. So, have any of you who may read this, have experience as a personal chef? And if so I am sure you wouldnt mind telling me about it. For any additional insight I would gladly pay you tuesday... for a hamburger today. Garlicman
     
  2. jim berman

    jim berman

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    Have you investigated the Personal Chef's Association? I believe thay have a presence on the web. Perhaps a google search will yield some positive results.
    Good luck!
     
  3. chef heather

    chef heather

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    Hi There...

    I am a personal chef in upstate NY and I enjoy my work tremendously. It's NOT for everyone. You have to do everything from marketing, to schlepping heavy equipment to writing ad materials and menus to actually cooking the clients' food. Ask me some questions and I'll see what I can offer you in the way of advice. Meanwhile, at least read or join these boards: http://www.pcnchef.org/cgi-bin/ultim...Prune=0&r=actu This organization seems to be very supportive and not too expensive. They will sell you common sense, which is simply printed out for you. There's a personal chef's book available from Amazon you may want to get, and save yourself several thousand bucks.

    I do not recommend The American Personal Chef's Assoc. and definitely do NOT recommend any participation in The United States Personal Chef's Assoc. The latter I did purchase materials from. The former I got their materials free...second hand from a pal of mine who didn't want to be a PC as she'd thought. There are videos with this one. PM me and maybe I'd consider sharing these materials with you. For a discount, of course!
     
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  4. starrleicht

    starrleicht

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    I'm not a personal chef perse ,but I do create menu plans and share recipes with clients, and it's a tough job! I get all kinds of gripes and demands - it's not easy. some people actually DO expect me to make a recipe for them before they'll even consider trying it so brace yourself for the demanding employer!! people skills are extremely important - as is learning to bite your tongue at times!! :(
     
  5. chef heather

    chef heather

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    I don't get any gripes or demands and frankly, after years in annoying corporate life, I just don't take on ANY client that appear to me as "difficult." There's a screening process beforehand, and they have the option to dislike me, as well. :) Fortunately that's not happened. That's just a choice I have made in having my own business. People who are a pain in the azz can do that on their own time, and let me cook and be happy with my wonderful group of current customers. :bounce:

    Part of the PC process is sitting down with your clients and creating menus from a list of likes and dislikes that they have completed and discussed with the chef. In other words...every herb, every veg, every fruit and meat is checked off on a list. If they don't like basil, you needn't wonder "should I add basil". You know you aren't GOING to add basil or they'll kick your azz! :D The best part of preventing headaches in this profession is to know the client inside and out. Cooking for people occasionally is not being a personal chef. That type of service falls more into a "Personal Catering" type category. Even in that case, all supplies must be purchased on day of service, and prepared in the clients' home. A Personal Chef is not allowed to store any foodstuffs in her own home firdge, nor cook on her own stove. Although some Personal chefs cook one-time dinnners for special occasions, a personal chef is basically a part of the family (live-out, of course. Live-in chefs, or chefs who cook for only ONE family are called "Private Chefs") who keeps solid records and files on their client tastes. Even with one-time service, they would still have to fill out the food questionnaires, for the major reason of food allergies! If I decided to make paella, and everyone is allergic to shrimp and clams, I have not only wasted my time, I have prepared a meal that will go to waste (as I am allergic to shrimp and clams!!) :D
     
  6. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    There are some pretty good threads in the archives on PCing....I gave private weekly lessons, did personal cheffing for years, at present I only cook for one person every other week and it works well for both of us.

    I've talked to many others about how they work their businesses, I went for cost plus, which means, I plan the menu, you either ok it or in the situation I'm in now...you get what I make....then I get a set salary....I work fast and am not into working on a clock....it's by the job and it's a set rate, for years that was my bread and butter, when my sons were in school I would work until they got home..... I averaged 4 days a week and in the height of pcing cleared $750-1000 a week. There were pros and cons. I chose to do more teaching/consulting and catering than personal cheffing....that means much more time on a computer and actually less time at the stove :( ....got to be been there done that.
     
  7. chef heather

    chef heather

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    I headed straight to the archived topics in the archived forurms and found nothing of any interest. :confused: A search of the entire board pulled up little as well in the way of informative information on Personal Chefs and none of these topics came from the archives.


    Search results:
    http://cheftalkcafe.com/forums/searc...searchid=33088
     
  8. chef janssen

    chef janssen

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    I am interested in PCing. I am currently an exec, recently promoted from sous, and I like the idea of being my own boss! I want something more personally fulfilling. Does a PC carry any legal requirements in NY State if you are cooking in your clients kitchen???? Any advise is greatly appreciated :chef:
     
  9. chef heather

    chef heather

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    PC's operate with basic food service guidelines in mind, and adhere to health code rules set aside for PC's in your individual counties. In my county, a PC may not prepare, nor store, food in his own kitchen for client's use. Although there are no inspections, it's generally understood you take care with following the rules and do all your work in your client's kitchens. To operate a business, and do it properly, you'll need to register your business name in your county. I recommend some food safety classes, and some knife skills classes--neither is required before you can start your PC business but it looks very good when you can present a ServSafe Certificate to your clients, as well as a copy of your Business Lisence/Certificate. The rest you just make up as your go along! You will find your own way of doing things that will be easiest for you. We're all different.
     
  10. chef janssen

    chef janssen

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    Thanks Heather, I am very excited and look forward to a new aspect of the business!!
     
  11. chef heather

    chef heather

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    Keep asking me questions whenever you have one! I love to tell people about the job. It's the best damm secret "out there" for food people. I work 5 hours a day. Make more in a couple days than I did in a week in corporate life.... :bounce:
     
  12. t.haws

    t.haws

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    I guess there is a difference as to whether you work for just one family/person. I've been a chef for a family for a few years now and it can either be great or really suck, depending on your experience and the type of family/individual you sign up with.
     
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  13. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    or most importantly the ground rules you set at the first meeting....vacation time is a huge one....if they go on vacation do you still get paid? For many wealthy people travel exstensively.
    I looked at taking on a family that is extremely wealthy (read top brewer in the world) They wanted someone to cook/serve/cleanup make essentially uninteresting food (3 courses) there were numerous small children that would desire their own foods....and the clincher their pay was hourly and 1/3 of what I asked for 10 years ago when I started PCing. :eek:
    Needless to say, I turned around and walked out......there is a segment in the society that grew up with full time household help that is used to paying a non-living wage....
     
  14. chefmikesworld

    chefmikesworld

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    The PC world is multi-faceted...in my PC business I do everything from PCheffing to caterings from cooking classes to individual instruction on "Things I have in my cupboard I have absolutely no idea what to do with..." Is a fun world and like all else it is about finding your niche and exploiting it...

    My niche I found was not having a menu or set prices, thus my name "Your Craving Is My Command"...I develop the menues and pricing around the customers budget and preferences, I found that it is a good way to add variety to my life and it adds a more personal touch to my services...

    Heather...loved your bit about the USPCA and the other one that I promised I would never mention again....LOL...shoot me an email...Are you going to the Portland show?? Wish I could but am pretty booked up at work...

    Anyway...
    Cheffy's two cents...

    Peace, Hugs and Cookies,
    Cheffy
     
  15. t.haws

    t.haws

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    A few points to consider when thinking about private cooking. You are literally brought into another family's life, witness to the good , bad and ugly. It can be uncomfortable. Possible seasonal relocating(I relocate to the cape every summer, while my wife and 2 babies stay(she's a personal assistant for another family). The ability to be extremely flexible when putting out the food, a phone call can stop the meal for any length, they have plans to go out but don't inform you till dinner time, or they need to eat much earlier, again only informing you at that moment. Guest, extended family members are invited for dinner, you find out at eating time. And the waste...... You'll also find the adage "money doesn't denote class or taste" to be true, their personal tastes and preferences can be deflating. Throw in the constant "new diets" that last days or weeks, you start to get the idea. And thats just describing them. As for the chef, you'll need depth of experience to maintain freshness of meals, meaning knowing multiple ways of preparing ingredients and technical skill to pull it off, unlike a restaurant theres no standard menue to fall back on when you can't think of what to prepare, be willing to take criticisms from children as well as the adults,remember its not about you, and then dealing with other household staff who don't answer to you. These are just a sample of some of the realities of private cooking, I didn't mention the positives, there's many, because thats all you usually hear anyway.
     
  16. chef heather

    chef heather

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    Of course not. You're not providing them with service or with food. I wouldn't expect to be paid for not doing anything. ;) And if you go away on vacation, you are not paid, either. If you work as a Private Chef with a very wealthy family, they may...just may....give you paid vacation, sick days and holidays because you'll probably be getting a yearly salary. I am a PC though, so my days off are unpaid.


    It's like any job. You don't like what they're offering you, you don't take it. I much prefer working for multiple families than I would working for just one family. I don't like cooking "kid's food" anyway. BUT...if I were offered an excellent position with around a $40K and up salary, I take it! No questions asked! :bounce:
     
  17. chef heather

    chef heather

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    Personal Chefs deal with very little of what T.Haws has mentioned. Fortunately. There are downsides to every job but Personal Chefs prepare meals from carefully gathered client information. There are little or no surprises. You cook the food as they want it cooked, you package it up, and you split. I am lucky in that I cook for adults who are just a rare bunch of considerate, nice people. They never hassel me nor give me outrageous requests. If they did, no amount of money would be worth cooking for them. Being a PC allows me to enjoy people on the level I like...which is "arm's length." I don't ever get "huggy-kissy" with my clients. We are cordial and enjoy a few laughs but they know to stay outta my hair when I cooking their food. It's in my contract. That and some basic things to keep me sane like:

    Shovel my pathways and de-ice your driveways, or call me to reschedule in the Spring! (not exactly worded like that...but you get the idea! :D )

    I will not take out your trash, nor wash any dirty dishes in the sink when I get there. Have my work area clean so I am not delayed preparing your food. (see above... :D )

    I will NOT baby sit your children even if you're just going to the mailbox across the street. Get a sitter, or take them with you. (...above :D ) I will also not be dropping your Granny off at the library when I leave. Eh-hem!

    Keep your VARMINTS out of the kitchen while I am cooking. Last thing I need to do is to step on precious Fifi's foot, and cover myself in boiling stock.

    Do not run into the kitchen and holler "BOOOOO!!" to see what I will do. More likely than not, I will beat you senseless with my skillet

    You get the idea!! :p :chef:
     
  18. t.haws

    t.haws

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    Ok, so now I feel compelled to mention the good to amazing benefits of my job after my pissing on the parade post earlier. My hours are 11-7:30 ish M-F with a break @ 2 to go shopping, have lunch at home, etc. and back at 4 to have the kids dinner up at 5. The parents followafterwards,I clean up and go home. I cook for 2 adults and 3 teenagers, I cook whatever I feel like(knowing their likes and dislikes)and since I have a 3yr and a 8mo I don't mind cooking for kids, I don't dumb down the food either. The adults always get a starter and the main, so I plan the meal to balance and flow. Weekends off so I leave them set up with easy to prepare foods. I get @ 5 wks total paid vacation(2 regular and the rest when they go on their family trips). I have full medical, dental ins., all my gas is paid for,and sit down for this, they provide me with a big *** condo, all I pay is phone and cable. I get 2 dinning out(research) nights a month covered, add regular bonuses and raises to a competitive restaurant or hotel chefs salary and it totals to a sweet gig.
     
  19. chef heather

    chef heather

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    That is ONE SWEET job you have there! I also love my hours. I usually do 5 main dishes and 2-3 sides. I get to the client's no earlier than 12 :D and I am home with my feet up by around 4, 4:30. I have a client who just takes 4 entrees, no sides. My hours are 12-2 or at the latest, 3 if I have a slow cooked item like my French beef stew.
     
  20. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Heather,
    I always get paid vacation for PCing. If they go out of town I get paid.
    It's stated up front so there are no probs later on. :p