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Private chef cost

Cooking over stove angry
Sometimes we just would prefer a private chef

How much does a private chef cost? Many of us have wishfully dreamt of having someone cook for us (usually when it’s 7:30pm and you’ve just realized you don’t have anything in the house to eat, or 10pm after a dinner party and you have a bunch of dishes to wash even though you’ve spent several hours cooking already). We often turn to restaurant takeout as the answer, but often the food is not as healthy as we like (restaurant food is often designed for impulse purchases by hungry people – meaning too much fat, sugar and salt) and sometimes we get tired of the menu (there’s only so many times we want pizza or Chinese food). It turns out the cost of private chefs can vary quite a bit and it may not be as out of reach as many of us think. The exact cost of a private chef depends on several factors, such as:

  • Your geography – some geographies just have higher cost of living, and this will also be reflected in the cost of hiring a private chef. For example, it’s likely that a private chef will cost more in San Francisco, CA than Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Whether you need a full-time private chef or a part-time private chef (also known as ‘personal chef’) or a private chef for a one-time event – Private chefs can work in a range of arrangements, from cooking for one special dinner/ event, to cooking a batch of meals once a week, to being a full-time employee of the household. Clearly the chef’s time and therefore, the cost involved will differ across these scenarios.
  • What type of experience and background you need and/or prefer – Do you need someone who has worked in a top-tier restaurant? Someone with professional culinary school experience? Or will your needs be met by someone who has neither, but is a great cook with most of his/ her experience making food and doing small-scale catering? Often, though not always, cost will vary across chefs and cooks with different backgrounds.
  • Whether you are looking for someone with specific expertise – Are you on a super-specific diet that requires a certified nutritionist? Or someone who has extensive experience cooking without a common ingredient (e.g., gluten)? It may cost a bit more to find private chefs with this type of additional experience/ training.

The data available on private chef costs isn’t great, though we can look at a couple of different reports and try to get an estimate. Recruiter.com, for example, says that the median salary for a private chef is about $24,500 with the 90th percentile making about $42,800. Payscale.com has different numbers, with the median salary being about $62,500 and the 90th percentile making $120k. According to the research we’ve done at SomaPersonalChefs.com, we estimate that the median per-hour wage for personal chefs is between $40-$50. Of course, not all personal chefs are able to fill a 40-hour week all the time, but assuming a 28-hour workweek and 50 weeks worked per year, it sums up to about $56k per year.

If you are looking for a private chef to cook just one special event or a batch of meals for weekdays, you actually don’t need to pay for a full year’s chef’s salary obviously, which can make it a lot more affordable. For example, one dinner may take a private chef about 5-7 hours (or $200-$280 at median) as might whipping up several meals for a week’s work of dinner.

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My personal chef

Home chef presenting finished dish
Sometimes it’s nice to have a person who can be ‘my personal chef’

On a recent airplane ride, I watched the movie Beatriz at Dinner where Selma Hayek plays a masseuse/ healer/ spiritual guru who, by kind of happenstance, is invited to a dinner with very wealthy capitalists. It’s a very interesting movie for many reasons, but one thing I did notice that’s relevant to SomaPersonalChefs.com is that the home where the dinner party is hosted had personal chefs who prepared the dinner meal. Connie Britton, who plays the hostess, is complemented by her guests about the meal and she says something to the effect of “Oh no, I don’t deserve any of the credit. I had my personal chef cook all the food. I just set the menu.” (ok that’s a loose paraphrasing but it’s in the spirit of what she said).

It did strike me that she seemed so relaxed as she prepared to have guests arrive – somewhat stressful guests, guests that are important to her husband’s work, and at least one that is pretty (in)famous. The house was quiet and peaceful, with the personal chef working in the kitchen, while she got dressed. When the guests arrived, she was able to spend time greeting them and talking to them rather than rushing around getting dinner ready. Her guests still thought the food was wonderful and enjoyed the evening.

Admittedly, this is a (very) small part of the entire plot, but it’s illuminating how a personal chef can bring calm to an important social gathering.

How to find your own ‘my personal chef’

You might be asking yourself how one even finds someone to call ‘my personal chef’. We think one of the easiest ways is to look on SomaPersonalChefs.com, where there are hundreds of personal chef profiles that are searchable by location, cuisine type and estimated price ranges.

How finding someone you can call ‘my personal chef’ could help

Finding someone who you can call ‘my personal chef’ for a busy month or even just an important evening can help you in several ways including:

  • Allowing you to focus on work or family during a particularly busy stretch
  • Helping you plan a menu by suggesting new dishes or ingredients that you typically don’t cook with and/or may not be familiar with
  • Allowing you to focus on welcoming your guests rather than working in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, and transporting food
  • Freeing up time by grocery shopping in addition to cooking and cleaning
  • Depending on the arrangement, your personal chef may also serve the food during a special events dinner, allowing you to relax and enjoy the vent
  • Providing cleaning support after an event

In addition to helping (or leading) menu planning, grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning for special occasion meals, personal chefs can also cook weekday meals in batches to meet your family’s needs. Many of the personal chefs profiled on our website provide both types of services. Visitors can use our direct messaging feature to ask personal chefs about further details on the type of service they are seeking.

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Personal chef prices

Nothing is in the refrigerator
How much does it cost to hire a personal chef?

Sure it would be nice to have a personal chef but what do they cost? After researching personal chefs in more than 20 metro areas in the United States, Soma was able to get some data on personal chef prices. Unsurprisingly, personal chef prices can vary significantly by location (in higher-priced metro areas like San Francisco, personal chef prices also tend to be higher). However, within a given metro area, there can be significant variations in personal chef prices, even among personal chefs and cooks who seem to have a similar background in terms of training and experience.

How personal chef prices tend to work

It’s worth noting how personal chef prices tend to be structured. Generally, if the personal chef is being hired to cook a batch of meals that will be consumed over several days (for example, 4 meals with 4 servings each), the personal chef will price by the hour (with an estimate of the number of hours it will take to cook the dishes) or by the number of meals and servings per meal (for example, $x for 3 meals with 2 servings each, $y for 3 meals with 4 servings each, $z for 4 meals with 2 servings each, and so on). Groceries will commonly be billed separately and without markup to the client – the personal chef will commonly present the receipt to the customer to be reimbursed. This allows the customer to specify what quality of ingredients they want (e.g., free range meats, all organic produce, etc) and/or choose recipes with more expensive ingredients (for example, seafood dishes tend to cost more than vegetarian dishes). At times, a small ‘pantry fee’ may also be added – this covers the cost of ingredients that the personal chef might bring out of their own supplies, of which only small quantities are required (and therefore may not make sense to buy a whole unit for a client). These might include spices, sugar, spices and specialty oils.

If the personal chef is cooking for a dinner party, it can be more common for the personal chef to charge by person. One typical arrangement is for the personal chef to set out a few different potential menus and put a price per person for each of those menus. The pricing in this case commonly includes the cost of ingredients as well as labor.

In either case, it’s common for a deposit to be required so that the personal chef has some reassurance that the client will honor the reservation and the reimbursement for the ingredients.

Quick note on methodology

Before we start, a quick note on methodology. As noted above, different personal chefs can structure the pricing for their services differently (especially for personal chef services for batch cooking of meals). However, it can be helpful for potential customers to be able to compare approximate prices across different chefs when they look for one that best meets their needs. Hence, in Soma’s research on personal chef prices, we have used a set of guidelines to have estimates across personal chefs in terms of their pricing, on a per-hour basis. More details on how we approached this can be found here. Note that all prices have to be checked with personal chefs prior to confirming bookings and prices shown on Soma may not be the most up-to-date information available.

Personal chef prices

I’ve blogged more about the pricing research and its findings in this past blog post, which readers can refer to for more detailed breakdowns by metro area. But the key takeaway is that for the lowest cost metro area we looked at (Charlotte, NC), it cost on average $12 per serving to hire a personal chef while in the highest cost metro areas (such as San Francisco), it cost nearly $20 per serving. This was assuming that the client was hiring the personal chef to cook 5 meals with 4 servings each, which is pretty much the largest package you can buy from most personal chefs (also often the least expensive on a per-serving basis). Add in the cost of ingredients which can range from $2-$10, and clients can expect $14 per serving at the lower end and almost $30 at the high end. In most of these metro areas, this is comparable to a mid-priced restaurant meal, except that it’s often healthier, more catered to your needs, and more convenient (if you prefer to eat at home).

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Hire a chef for a dinner party

Tired of doing the dishes
It’s a lot of work to cook and clean for a dinner party

Throwing a dinner party for family and friends, in theory, should be a fun affair – not just for your guests but for you too. It’s a time to gather around some great food and drinks and share conversation. However, it can too easily devolve for the hosts into a 6-10 hour session of drudgery, where you don’t actually get to enjoy yourself, don’t spend time with your guests and -shocker- you actually start feeling tired and resentful about doing the whole thing in the first place. Spare yourself (and your guests) this feeling – hire a chef for a dinner party!

Advantages of throwing a dinner party at home

While your home is not the only place you can throw a party, there are several advantages to throwing a dinner party at home (versus a restaurant or some other venue):

  • You and your guests have the flexibility of spending more time together over post-dinner activities like desserts, extended conversations and games. There’s no pressure to have to clear the restaurant table for the next patrons or because the restaurant is closing and you have more flexibility in what you do with your guests (you can’t play charades at a restaurant for example!)
  • It’s often cheaper to host a dinner party at your home overall, especially when you include the cost of tips and parking. While the cost to the host might be greater (because you’ll often be the one purchasing all the ingredients, doing the cooking and hosting in your home), you can spread around the cost by asking people to bring a bottle of wine or a dessert.
  • Hosting in your home allows others to get to know you and your family in a way that they can’t sitting in a restaurant. There’s a measure of vulnerability here that the host is putting forward, but allowing guests into your home means that they get a sense for how you live, they can look at the photos and pictures hanging on your walls and make conversation.
  • If there are young children involved, it’s often easier to host at someone’s home rather than a restaurant. There’s often more space for the children to move around, and perhaps the option to have the children play or watch TV in a different room after dinner while the parents chat.

Benefits of hiring a chef for a dinner party

By hiring a chef for your dinner party, you can get many of the benefits of throwing a dinner party in your home with less of the work. By allowing having someone else do the cooking and much of the cleaning, you can be more free to host your guests, enjoy your own party, and have more energy to be present. Other benefits include:

  • The food might be better – while you might be a great cook (no assumptions here about that), many chefs that get hired for private parties have a lot of cooking experience. In helping you plan the menu, select ingredients, cook and plate the food, and clean the kitchen, they are likely to do a better job than most home cooks.
  • You’ll have more time – Rather than spending hours (literally, it can take 5-10 hours to prepare for a dinner party for 8-12 people) cooking, you can spend that time taking care of other things in your life or preparing other aspects of the party (for example, picking up flowers or tidying up your home).
  • It might be easier to split the cost – if you hire someone to cook for a dinner party, it might be easier and less socially awkward to split the cost with your friends. It depends on the social context, but if you and your friends all have children, but like to get together on a regular basis to enjoy a nicer dinner together, it might be easier to say “hey I’m hiring a chef for $X for our dinner party – can we split the cost?”. In contrast, if you are doing all the cooking, many people would find it harder to ask people to contribute financially for their own labor.

How to hire a chef for a dinner party

One of the easiest way to hire a chef for a dinner party that you’re thinking of throwing is to start at SomaPersonalChefs.com, where you will be able to sort chefs by geographical area, type of cuisine, and price estimates. Users can also send messages to chefs they are interested in to discuss menus and other questions and when they are ready, request a booking directly through our website!

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At home chef

Tired of eating the same thing
Wish you had a chef who would cook for you?

Have you ever considered hiring an at-home chef? If so, you’re not alone. While hiring chefs and cooks for help with in-home cooking has been more common in other countries such as China and India, it’s a relatively new concept in the United States. Americans used to have the perception that hiring someone to cook for you in your home was only for the super-wealthy. However, that might be changing as more families in the United States have two working parents, there is a growing concern of food allergies and sensitivities that might be driving inflammation as well as other symptoms, and there is growing awareness of the benefits of eating food made from scratch and the downsides of eating too much processed food, as well as much of the salt-/sugar-/fat-laden dishes served up by many restaurants.

What is an at home chef?

An at home chef is someone who comes to your home to cook a customized menu for you and your family. Commonly also called a ‘private chef’ or ‘personal chef’, the arrangement and profile of the chef might be diverse. For example, the at home chef might be someone with professional culinary training and working experience who is hired into your household as a full-time employee (a person entering this type of arrangement is more often called a ‘private chef’). On the other hand, the at home chef might be someone with more limited formal culinary training or professional cooking experience but is a very capable and talented home cook, who comes to your home once a week to cook multiple meals in one ‘cook session’ (a person entering this type of arrangement may be more often called a ‘personal chef/ cook’). At home cooks can come from a wide range of backgrounds and help their clients in a variety of arrangements, but they can often be counted on to do most, if not all, of the following tasks:

  • Help their clients set a menu for the week, that meets the client’s dietary preferences and requirements
  • Shop for groceries/ ingredients
  • Wash, chop and otherwise prep the ingredients for cooking
  • Cook and assemble the meals
  • Store and/or plate the meals
  • Clean the kitchen to the initial state

With the typical two-parent household spending about 70 minutes per day cooking and cleaning up, it may be well worth it to get an at home chef to help you so that you can spend time doing other things – such as spending time with your children, paying the bills, and getting exercise.

Top 5 reasons for hiring an at home chef

  1. Saves you time- As we mentioned earlier in this post, American families spend a lot of time cooking food and cleaning up afterwards. The 70 minutes apparently doesn’t even include grocery shopping! If you have cooked a fair bit, you also know that it can save a lot of time to cook multiple meals at once – e.g., chop ingredients for meal #2 while the first meal is in the oven. But the fact is we don’t often have the energy or time to plan thoroughly in advance, which means we end up cooking one or two meals at a time and then having to look up recipes, go to the grocery store, pull out the pots and pans, etc multiple times in a week. Having an at-home chef not only saves you time because you can do other things with that 7+ hours per week, but the chef will often do a more thorough and efficient job of planning and cooking than you would do.
  2. Helps you eat tastier food – Many at home chefs do this work because they love cooking and feeding others. They often are cooking enthusiasts, which means that they will likely be better at cooking than you are. So not only are you saving time, but you are eating food that tastes better too!
  3. Helps you eat healthier food – In addition to helping prevent you from reaching out for the take-out menu, having an at-home chef helps you eat healthier food because they make it from scratch and you have a better sense of what is going into each of the dishes. You are also planning menus farther in advance with them, which means that you are likely to make better decisions than if you had to choose what to eat at 6pm when everyone is starving. Many personal and private chefs also have training in nutrition, which better equips them to help you make healthier choices.
  4. Reduces food waste- Americans throw out about 40% of their food  every year. We would guess that a significant portion of food that gets thrown out in the home is raw produce and meats that would have been eaten if they were in tasty cooked dishes, rather than sitting in inedible forms, slowly decaying in the refrigerator. Honestly, how many of us have bought a big load of fruit/ vegetable/ meats, with the best of intention to cook something delicious later that week, and then things got busy. Every night that week at 6 or 7pm you’re looking at that fruit/ vegetable/ meat and deciding that you don’t have the energy to cook that tonight and go for some other faster option? Suddenly it’s Friday and that fruit/vegetable/meat isn’t looking so good anymore and you decide it needs to be thrown out. Having an at home chef will help you make sure that your ingredients are transformed into delicious meals that are ready to eat, lessening the likelihood that that ingredient will be thrown out.
  5. Helps you expand your palate- While many at home chefs will cook dishes matched to your family’s preferences, it can also be refreshing to have someone new cook for you, who can introduce you to one new ingredient, one new way of cooking a familiar dish, etc. It will help expand your and your family’s palate, which is not a bad benefit!

Where to find an at home chef

Listings for hundreds of personal and private chefs are at SomaPersonalChefs.com, where you can sort by various criteria and request bookings directly. Other ways of potentially finding an at home chef include looking in your personal network, posting on general listing sites such as Craigslist and searching online for personal and private chefs in your area who might have websites.

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Private chef for hire

Reading cookbook
Would you rather find a private chef for hire?

Private chefs for hire can be difficult to find, but a good private chef can be a life-saver. Here, we go through the different occasions where you might consider hiring a private chef, how to find a private chef for hire and how to work with one after you’ve decided who to hire.

Occasions for hiring a private chef

The term ‘private chef’ is generally used for a chef who is hired by a family or an individual to prepare meals or help with some aspect of meal preparation (as opposed to chefs who work in restaurants). The phrase ‘personal chef’ also is often used somewhat interchangeably with ‘private chef’, though to some, they mean different things. Private chefs are generally those who are employed full-time by a family or individual and prepare many (if not nearly all) of their meals. The employer is generally responsible for paying taxes and providing any liability coverage for that chef. Personal chefs generally are those who serve multiple clients in a given week or month and run their own cooking services business, out of which they charge clients. Personal chefs, generally speaking, are responsible for their own taxes, insurance and any other administrative requirements. If you are looking to hire a chef for one specific dinner or event, likely the terms private and personal chefs can be used interchangeably.

There are many occasions for which you might consider a private chef for hire:

  • Cook a special meal for one specific event such as an anniversary, birthday, graduation or retirement. Private chefs can often not only save you time cooking and cleaning up, but can often produce gourmet, multiple-course meals. Parents who would like to have a special dinner but are reluctant to leave the kids at home, for example, can hire a private chef to replicate the restaurant experience in their home or vacation rental
  • To provide cooking services while you and your family are going through a busy stretch of time. Sometimes a new job, promotion, family addition, or sickness can make it hard for your family to continue eating healthy, made-from-scratch meals. In these cases, hiring a private chef can make sure your family’s eating doesn’t slip through the cracks.
  • To help you and your family eat healthier and/or meet new dietary guidelines. If you’ve discovered a food allergy in your family, or you’ve decided to make a step-change in eating more healthily, hiring a private chef can go a long way. Not only are many private chefs talented at creating delicious dishes that meet your dietary requirements (such as more vegetables, low glycemic, low sodium, Keto, Paleo, and others), some are also nutritionists who can bring additional knowledge to your family’s effort to eat in a healthier way.

Tasks that private chefs for hire may be expected to do include:

  • Plan a menu that incorporates your dietary requirements and preferences
  • Shop for ingredients
  • Wash, chop and prep ingredients
  • Cook and assemble the dishes
  • Plate and serve the meals (if you have hired them for a dinner or they are a full-time private chef)
  • Store meals
  • Clean the kitchen back to the initial state

How to find a private chef for hire

Finding a private chef for hire is not always straightforward. We believe one of the easiest ways is to go to SomaPersonalChefs.com where users can find profiles of hundreds of private and personal chefs, sort them by geographical area/ cuisine type/ estimated price range, message them with questions, and request bookings. Other ways of trying to find a private chef for hire including asking those in your networks, posting enquiries to general listing sites such as Craigslist, and searching the internet for local chefs who may have created a website.

How to work with a private chef for hire

As you decide on which private chef to hire, here are some pro tips to make sure both you and the private chef get the most out of your experience:

  • Set clear expectations upfront – This includes outlining clearly (preferably in writing, such as in an email) what you expect from the private chef such as the menu to be served, the number of servings per dish, and which tasks you expect the private chef to do vs you or others will take care of (see the first section). It also includes the amount that you will pay for this service. Lastly, if you have any dietary restrictions or strong preferences, you should also communicate these upfront to the private chef.
  • Go over logistics – This is an easy one to miss, but you will have someone cooking in your home and they need a little bit of help from you to orient themselves. This means you need to tell them where the dishes, utensils, mixing bowls, cooking utensils, knives, cutting boards, pots/ pans, dish towels, and storage containers are. They will also need to understand any quirks with the stove, oven or refrigerator. If you need them to bring any equipment, you will need to tell them in advance. Lastly, they will also need to know the location of the restroom that they should use!
  • Give feedback – After the event, take time to give feedback to your chef about what went well and what you feel like they can improve on. Take time to also leave feedback online through a site like SomaPersonalChefs.com. Private and personal chefs don’t always get the feedback they need to continue improving and your feedback helps them improve their service as well as help future customers better understand what to expect from that chef.
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Cooks for hire

Woman disgusted by raw meat
Wish you can hire a cook to deal with that?

You might be looking for cooks for hire for several different reasons. While in many cases, it’s restaurants and catering companies that are looking for cooks for hire, there are also families and individuals who are looking for cooks for hire. If you are one of these families and/or individuals, people like you may look for freelance chefs and cooks for a number of reasons including:

  • Cooking for a special event, which are too small or different to be served by a regular caterer
    • Special dinner night for a couple or several couples, but for some reason (usually young children) it works better to stay in! For example, anniversary dinners, birthday dinners, and dinners while on vacation. Many chefs and cooks for hire can prepare a wonderful, multi-course meal and saving you time and hassle of cooking a fancy dinner.
    • Retirement, birthday, graduations and anniversary celebrations – many of these types of gatherings are under 20 people, which are typically too small for a regular caterer. Usually one cook for hire can handle these types of gatherings, provided there is enough advance notice and planning
  • Getting help with weekday meals during a busy season – There are certain events in life that can make it more difficult to cook for ourselves – a new job or promotion, a new baby, an illness in the family. During these times, it can be helpful to bring in a cook for hire to help your family continue eating a healthy, made-from-scratch meal on a consistent basis.
  • Making a step-change towards healthy eating – If you find that you are reaching for the take-out menu too often, finding a freelance chef or cook can help you make the change toward healthier eating. How? First of all, your cook or chef will likely set a menu with you – probably when you are not starving, so you can make wiser choices about your food. They will then probably stock your refrigerator with those foods, that are ready to be eaten with a couple minutes in the microwave. Having healthier meals within easy reach will help prevent you from making impulse decisions to eat the most appealing, but probably most unhealthy meal decisions when you actually need to eat like now. A chef or cook for hire can also help you stick to a diet regimen that you want to be on, whether it’s Paleo, low glycemic-index, portion control, etc.

How to find a cook for hire

We think the simplest way to find a cook for hire is through our website, SomaPersonalChefs.com, where you can find the profiles of hundreds of chefs and cooks who can come to your home and provide a customized cooking service. You can easily sort by geographic location, type of cuisine, and price estimate range. Users can also send messages to personal chefs on the website and request bookings.

Other ways that individuals and families may be able to find a freelance cook is through word of mouth in their personal network, through general online posting forums, and by searching online for freelance cooks or chefs who have taken the time to put up a website.

What to look for in a cook for hire

Typically, customers will narrow down the potential cooks to hire to about 2-3 candidates. Before you make the final hiring decision, there are a few things you may want to consider:

  • What type of training/ experience does this person have? There are many great home cooks who would make for a strong cook for hire, but you may get greater variation in performance than hiring a cook or a chef who has had professional culinary training and/or work experience in a well-run restaurant.
  • Do they seem professional? Does the candidate return your phone calls or emails in a timely fashion? Do they dress appropriately for the type of work that you expect them to do? Is the way that they dealt with you during the interview process make you feel comfortable that you can have a good working relationship going forward?
  • Are they equipped to do everything you expect from them? There are multiple types of tasks that are frequently expected from personal cooks and chefs including but not limited to: menu planning, grocery shopping, ingredient washing and prepping, cooking the dishes, following recipes, storing food, and clean up. Be sure that you are clear with the cook you are considering hiring, which one of these tasks you expect them to do. For example, some cooks are great at following directions (e.g., following a recipe) but they aren’t strong on menu planning and expect clients to tell them what to cook each week. Others might be able to do everything but don’t have access to a car that would allow them to pick up groceries on their way over to your home for the cook date. Communicating in advance about these expectations will help you get the most out of the personal chef service you’re paying for.
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In home chef

Woman pulling food out of oven happy
Let an in-home chef do the heavy lifting of cooking for you!

Having an in home chef seems like the best of all worlds – someone to cook gourmet meals but it’s customized to your tastes and needs. It would mean no more flipping through cookbooks or recipe websites to figure out what to cook the next week, shopping for ingredients, putting them away, cleaning and chopping ingredients, and then spending a lot of time actually cooking the dish. Not to mention the cleaning that’s required – both from the cooking as well as the eating! Having an in home chef would mean walking into your chandelier-strewn dining room, sitting down to a table set with linens and candles, and having multiple courses served to you, and then dishes magically whisked away, never to be seen again – ok, maybe the chandeliers, linens, candles, and table service is optional. But it’s true that having an in home chef can save you a lot of time and help you and your family eat better – not only will they do a lot more of the heavy lifting in terms of meal planning, grocery shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning, but they will often do these things better than the average home cook, leading your family to eat more healthy and tasty dishes.

What does an in home chef do?

An ‘in home chef’ can either refer to a private chef or a personal chef. The primary difference between the two is whether the chef is a full-time employee of one client (a private chef), or serves multiple clients at any given time (a personal chef). A private chef, because they are the full-time employee of one client, tends to cook the meals just before it is about to be served and they may also prepare most of the client’s meals – breakfast, lunch, dinners, snacks, and special occasions. The client is responsible for any taxes and liabilities associated with the personal chefs, similar to any other full-time employees for household help.  A personal chef on the other hand, because they are serving multiple clients in any given week or month, typically cooks the client’s meals in batches and for more targeted occasions – for example, they may cook four dinners in one day and ‘stock’ their client’s refrigerators. They typically own their own business through which they sell their services to their multiple clients, and they are generally responsible for paying their own taxes and any other liability coverage.

However, apart from these differences, there are many similar tasks that in home chefs perform, whether they may fall more in the ‘private chef’ or ‘personal chef’ categories:

  • Menu planning, with the client’s input
  • Shopping for ingredients
  • Washing and preparing ingredients
  • Cooking and assembling the dishes
  • Storing the food
  • Cleaning the kitchen to the initial state

How do I find an in home chef?

In home chefs can be found in many ways – through word of mouth, general listing sites such as Craigslist, through Google searches. However, one of the best ways to find an in home chef is through SomaPersonalChefs.com – there is all the information that you need to find a talented chef near you quickly – service area, personal chef background, sample menus, and pricing estimates. You can send personal chefs questions through our messaging service and also request bookings directly on our website.

How do I work with an in home chef?

Once you’ve found an in home chef to work with, there are a couple of pointers that might be helpful so that you and the chef will have a great experience. They include:

  • Finalizing the menu beforehand (before the grocery shopping and cooking activities have started!) – no one wants to find out that the in home chef made dishes that you didn’t want, after he/ she has put in several hours to cook that dish
  • Make sure that they know about your food preferences and any allergies – what are some favorite dishes that you like to make for yourself and your family? Even if your in home chef doesn’t make those exact recipes, it will give him/ her a good idea of the type of foods and flavors that your family likes to eat
  • Logistics – Successful cooking is as much about managing logistics as it is about having the skill to assemble the right tastes, and you can help make sure that you’re setting your in home chef up for success by discussing the various logistical aspects of working together upfront. This includes everything from how much you’ll pay for the service, how and when you’ll pay, when and how they will access your home and kitchen for the cook session, where things are in your kitchen, where the bathroom is (that’s an easy one to forget) and ensuring that children and pets are out of the way so that the in home chef can do his/ her best work.
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Your private chef

Woman preparing vegetables sad
Overwhelmed with so many cooking responsibilities? Could it be time to consider getting your personal chef?

If  you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have someone you can call ‘your private chef’, you’re not alone. American women spend on average 50 minutes per day and American men spend on average 21 minutes per day on food preparation, cooking and cooking-related clean up (for more details, see here). That means that in an average two-person household, 71 minutes per day is spent on feeding yourself and your family! That is nearly 8 and a half hours per week, which is precious time that could be spent exercising, reading with your children, spending time on those very-important-but-never-urgent household tasks (like planning for retirement or college savings), or simply relaxing. No wonder some of us – even those of us who enjoy cooking – regularly wonder if there isn’t a better way – like hiring someone you can call your private chef.

Of course, there is a small segment of our society that has regularly enjoyed private chef services. Celebrities and athletes, who regularly show up trim and glowing after the birth of a baby or an injury, often credit their private chefs for their physical rebound. For example, see this list of private chefs to celebrities. Private chefs help ensure that their clients are keeping to their recommended diet, eating nutrient-packed calories, and all in a menu that tastes delicious every time. In the United States, unfortunately the idea that private chefs are out of reach for everyone but the super-wealthy is too common, leading people to dismiss the idea of hiring a private chef too soon when it could actually be more affordable and beneficial than they thought possible.

Occasions for hiring your private chef

With sites like SomaPersonalChefs.com, you can hire a private chef for specific occasions, saving you the expense of having to hire a private chef for a longer period of time. Some examples of when it can make a lot of sense to hire a private chef include:

  • Special dinners for 20 or fewer people – if you are hosting a dinner for family, friends and/or co-workers, don’t spend the entire day cooking and then the entire dinner shuttling dishes back and forth from the kitchen to the table. Instead, consider hiring a private chef to cook for the event – you’ll actually be able to host your guests and your guest likely won’t be any less appreciative or impressed!
  • A period of time when you need help preparing healthy weekday meals for you and your family – whether it’s a job change or a move, there are just some stretches of time when you and your family need an extra hand. A private chef can help significantly reduce that 8.5-hour a week cooking commitment, and probably help your family eat more healthily to boot!
  • When there is the arrival of a new baby or someone is sick – When a new baby arrives or a serious ailment occurs in a family, it can be a good idea to get extra help, especially with food. Not only will you have less time to prepare meals with these big life changes but eating well becomes particularly important.
  • When you are jump-starting a new health or diet regimen – If you’ve decided that you need to lose 30 pounds (or whatever your number is) or your doctor has told you that you need to dramatically lower your sugar or salt intake ASAP, a private chef can often help make that transition easier. Many private chefs have experience in nutrition as well as whipping up tasty meals, and even their cooking experience will make it more likely that they can cook palatable dishes that meet your requirements.

 

Where to find your private chef

One note before discussing where to find a private chef – people often use the terms ‘private chef’ and ‘personal chef’ interchangeably, but some who are involved in this industry make the distinction between the two. Some differences are: Private chefs generally refer to chefs that are full-time employees of one client and that are responsible for all the meals in that client’s family. The client is responsible for paying or withholding any employment-related taxes. The private chef may even live with the client’s household and travel with them if needed. Personal chefs, on the other hand, serve multiple clients at one time. They own their own business that provide services to clients and they are responsible for their own taxes and legal liabilities. They typically visit a client once a week and cook up a batch of meals that the client can reheat and eat throughout the week rather than cooking each meal separately.

Both private and personal chefs can be found on SomaPersonalChefs.com – our website makes it easy to search by geographic area, type of cuisine and price range. You can also search on common listing sites such as Craigslist or try to network within the restaurant community to see if there is a talented chef available to work with you.

How to hire your private chef

There are a number of considerations when hiring your private chef – here are some you may wish to consider:

  • Background – How important is it to you that your private chef comes with formal culinary training or professional cooking experience? There are many talented chefs and cooks out there with both formal training/ experience as well as not. The latter category may be very talented home cooks who decided to turn their hobby into a full-time profession. Sometimes, these folks can be hired at a lower cost (with similar quality of cooking) because they lack the formal credentials of someone who came out of a prestigious cooking school but the client would need to do more vetting to ensure that their cooking skills meets their needs.
  • Specific expertise – If you are following a specific diet, such as Paleo or Keto, you probably don’t want to hire someone whose main experience is cooking great homemade pasta. Similarly, if you or someone in your family has a severe allergy, you want to make sure that the person you’re hiring has experience in cooking in a way that can accommodate for that allergy.
  • Professionalism -This is someone who you are going to be relying on to have dinner on the table by 7pm for your guest or your hungry family. You don’t want to hear from them on a regular basis that dinner is running late or sit down to find out that the chicken is completely undercooked. In your interview process, you should try to get a sense for how professional they seem – do they return your emails promptly? Do they seem to be willing to look out for what needs to be done and take the initiative? Or do they seem to need a lot of detailed direction?
  • References – References can be a good way to confirm cooking ability as well as professionalism. Online reviews, past clients, and past employers can all make for good reference sources.
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Your personal chef

Proud of dish woman has cooked
Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personal chef?

Occasionally, as you bring out an elaborate dinner to host a group of friends, they may ask “Wow, did you make all of this yourself?”, you might be tempted to respond “No my personal chef made this (and Beyonce picked out the wine).” The truth is you probably spent the entire day working to prepare that meal – menu planning, grocery shopping, washing and preparing ingredients, cooking it, assembling it, and setting up the table. Also, not to mention rushing to tidy up the kitchen before the guests arrived to keep up the illusion that you are Mr or Mrs Hostess Extraordinaire – able to feed a dozen people a fancy, tasty and beautiful dinner without breaking a sweat. But the reality might be that you snapped at your significant other, burned your finger on a hot pan, rushed to the grocery store when you realized you forgot an ingredient, quickly changed your clothes before the guests arrived, and now already feel tired before the dinner has even begun! But it actually doesn’t have to be this way now – there’s actually a way to have your own personal chef help you be Mr or Mrs Hostess Extraordinaire, while sparing you the hours in the kitchen and the stressful Saturday/ Sunday spent rushing around (but sorry, we can’t help you with the Beyonce part).

In the past, it wasn’t always easy to find help to cook the menu that you wanted – broadly speaking, the market was divided into either cheaper ‘faster’ food with set menus that rarely changed or very expensive ‘fine dining’ with menus that often changed seasonally but were pretty expensive and definitely did not do take-out. If you wanted to put together a nice dinner party, for example with some appetizers, a lamb roast with several side dishes and a nice dessert for 8-12 people, where would you turn to? Especially if you had in mind the types of dishes or recipes that you wanted to serve, even smaller-scale caterers won’t necessarily be willing to personalize to your menu – often, they have a set list of what you can order from. Moreover, they build their pricing by dishes (ingredients plus labor), which means they may be incentivized to use lower quality ingredients to increase their margins. What if you wanted to find a talented cook who was willing to be paid by the hour, work with you to set the menu, and use the ingredients that you buy (or specify)? It might not even have to be a professionally trained chef, just a talented cook who may even have a full-time job but appreciates the opportunity to have a paid gig to show off his or her cooking chops. While there were two promising startups that also worked to make this a reality, unfortunately they shut down, leaving again a vacuum for chefs, cooks and clients who benefitted from their services.

Through SomaPersonaChefs.com, we are trying to make the whole process of finding your personal chef a lot easier. We are building a meeting place of those who love to cook and share their talents with those who need that customized help of a personal chef for a special meal or weekday family dinners. Our site helps chefs and cooks establish an online presence that they can use to help connect to potential clients without the hassle of setting up and maintaining their own website. For clients, it is an easy-to-use website that allows them to quickly find personal chefs in their area, their preferred cuisine type and their price range.

So the idea of having your own personal chef is actually within reach. Just like paying for someone to wash your car, clean your home, mow your lawn, or even cook for you at a restaurant – having a personal chef is a choice to prioritize your time to be able to do things other than spend hours in your kitchen. To get started, check out our website or email us at team@somapersonalchefs.com any time to find out what options are available near you.