We know that for anyone who wants to become a personal chef, the road won’t be easy as there are many competitors and a lot to learn to the point of making your name known in the industry, so clients choose you over other chefs.
But wouldn’t it be awesome to work in what you like and make money in the process? After all, most people who want to dedicate themselves to this field are in love with the kitchen, and if not, there’s nothing wrong with aiming for this side hustle regardless.
The question is, how can you make it work and earn money with it?
Your skills will be the key for most of your journey.
No one wants to hire a chef who doesn’t make tasty food, follows sanitary measures, or gives their all in every dish. People are looking for flavor, meet their number of dishes a day, but also for an experience they can remember each time.
Thus, you need to work around how good you are and what you can offer besides food because it is vital to living.
Don’t get us wrong; this still means you need to work on your techniques, recipes, and how much you can offer, so people say, “I want to it his/her food.”
We’re all in for this challenge, which basically means: we will help you with the basic steps of how to get started with this side hustle and start making some extra money or even turn this job into a long-term career for millions.
What Does It Mean to Be a Personal Chef?
Let’s set the record straight with the basics: are you confident that you know what this side hustle involves? Like, what does a personal chef do in specific?
To keep it simple, personal chefs are professionals who prepare meals for individuals or local businesses. You can say they just work with groups, companies, or just a single person as long as their services are hired.
This means they can either have more or less work based on the client they’re working with, but essentially, the goal remains the same.
However, you need to keep in mind that you won’t only cook based on what is on the fridge and cabinets. Personal chefs create meal plans that are tailored to the client’s tastes, dietary needs, and preferences.
They will also stock and prepare the food, handle food safety, clean up after the meal, and then make sure the kitchen is clean.
This profession is so popular because a personal chef can be a time-saver for those who want to prepare meals quickly and help them adhere to their dietary requirements. Many people just want to say “goodbye” to the whole task but still eat healthy without relying on deliveries or eating outside.
Since this side hustle or job will require more than the regular cooking people think about, it’s natural that it has more expectations and requirements than that of a restaurant chef—believe it or not.
It’s more of an all-rounder job, where you’re running the business, serving and hosting, as well as running a kitchen. This is why requirements and skills include:
- Adept at time management.
- Competent business skills.
- Always learning and updating culinary skills.
- Flexibility (in the way you serve customers and in food preparation).
- Flexibility regarding your time (willing to work extra hours or in special events that involve irregular hours.
How to Become a Personal Chef: Step-by-Step
Getting into the actual topic, there are several steps to take before you can work on this as a side hustle or build a career in the future.
The previous list of requirements and skills gives you an idea of what you need and what can take some time to develop. Thus, you need to take notes and start thinking about how you’re going to either start acquiring them or improve yourself to offer your services.
Here, we will be covering every step since the very beginning:
Step 1: You Will Need Your High School Diploma (Most of the Time)
Although many side hustles don’t require a diploma or minimum level of education, you will face a wall if you don’t finish high school.
Considering that being a personal chef is more than cooking, you must know it will take some learning process and more education, even when you don’t love studying.
Most institutions or places that will allow you to learn—and where you will need to go—will require your high school diploma as part of the minimal education level every aspirant should have.
Therefore, finish it or take the time to go back to obtain your diploma. It’s never too late!
Step 2: Get Formal & Basic Training to Become a Chef
A chef and someone who does chores like cooking is two different things, and we’re confident this is pretty clear so far.
Formal training in culinary arts will be needed to offer your services and make more than decent money with them.
You can choose to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in culinary arts or related fields, or you could attend culinary school or get a diploma in this culinary field.
Many culinary arts programs offer hands-on training and coursework in subjects such as food science, nutrition, and baking. More details and education will be provided depending on your diploma or the institution offering the program.
We recommend the basics about ingredients, baking, nutrition, and even wine, so you know what goes well with your food.
Covering general yet vital topics can be a great base so you can focus on your weaknesses and specific dishes you want to make later on.
Just keep in mind that most institutions or programs offer culinary diplomas based on levels, so it’s natural to start at the beginner level or the equivalence to it.
Step 3: Work in Earning Experience
Experience is always precious, and in every side hustle or job, it’s natural to want to gain some before you decide to take the next step in offering your services independently.
Why? Because it is a great way to improve your skills and increase confidence, but also have a good base for people to choose you over other chefs.
You can gain experience from courses, programs, or institutes that include internships and work experience. There are also stagiaire opportunities for newly qualified chefs.
To become a competent personal chef, you will need to have at least one year of relevant culinary experience, but ideally, three to five if you expect to charge a lot for your services. However, if you’re more interested in working and earning more experience, you can always spend a year and market yourself from there.
If you network and get to know people, try shadowing or working alongside a well-respected personal chef. They will (ideally!) be able to pass on valuable, hard-earned advice.
You can also rely on small yet incredible experiences by working with small restaurants or assisting people who are a bit known in the industry.
If you are lucky and get the chance to work with clients even before you build your experience to work on this as a side hustle, make sure to get the best out of it and include that in your portfolio!
For those finding it hard to get that experience, rely even more on internships and externships.
Step 4: Getting Certified
Assuming you followed the steps this far or you’ve been working on your experience and education, you are at the point of getting certified to offer professional chef services. This is when becoming a personal chef and making money with it starts to be possible and quite profitable.
Now, is it necessary to reach this point of being certified? Yes and no.
We want to clarify that many people just start as personal chefs after getting some education and experience. However, this works for side hustling as we’re covering here.
But at some point, it will be required to meet more requirements even if you are not aiming for a professional career in it.
Thus, to further enhance your culinary skills, a personal chef certification will be amazing for them but also the money you make.
Again, although it is not required, certification can give you an edge over other applicants and help you stand out when you apply for personal chef positions.
Step 5: Consider the Instruments You Need Before Offering Your Services
As an addition, training and certification are all clear, but people don’t remember that chefs have their utensils and “tools.”
For this side hustle, you won’t be able to rely on your clients’ utensils as many of them don’t really have the right ones, nor is it professional or a good way to feel comfortable and prepare the meals accordingly.
This takes us to the essential: you will have to invest a bit in this side hustle.
Having the perfect set of knives, cutting boards, mixing bowls, spoons, whisks, spatulas, tongs, colander, and many more, will be crucial for your services and side hustle overall.
Don’t worry; we will cover prices and possible expenses later and why you shouldn’t be too worried about this.
How Much Do You Need to Spend to Become a Personal Chef?
Considering education, certifications, internships that are not always paid, and utensils you will need to acquire, the costs aren’t that small compared to other side hustle ideas we’ve covered, like mobile pet grooming services, online businesses, or others with passive income.
As mentioned before, you can’t rely on your clients’ utensils, at least not all of them, since we’re aware there are many you can’t just take with you and bring to their kitchens.
However, the basics like knives and what you actually use for cooking the meals will usually be provided by you unless your clients have great utensils available.
We didn’t mention all the expenses this involves earlier: most of the money you will invest won’t come from your pockets.
You see, it is only natural to have good plates, spoons, and the cutlery required to serve the dishes. You cannot provide this to every client, nor you shouldn’t.
This is when another part of your job usually rises: you may be requested to buy the items or request them when setting the contract with your clients.
Then, if you won’t buy all the big utensils and kitchen equipment, how much do you need to spend from your bank account and for yourself?
It is basic and simple: you only need a VERY good set of knives.
Depending on the brand and your budget, you can afford one that goes from $30 to $150.
Of course, many sets can go over $1.000, but it isn’t necessary to acquire them at once. Just focus on getting good ones within your budget.
For certifications, institutions, or programs, you may spend more as many can cost over $1.000 or $2k.
We dare to say that you can end up spending about $2.500 to get started, but you can also work around the ones you can afford and how you can get the experience + certifications in your area.
The question is: is it worth it?
Can You Make a Lot of Money?
Naturally, you’re worried about the money and how much you can make with it.
To answer this question, we need to share some data, starting with the fact that the average annual salary of a personal chef in the United States is about $76k.
However, many factors influence the average salary for a personal chef:
You also need to determine how you’re going to offer your services.
You’re bound to make money based on a regular employee if you work under salary terms. However, you can decide to work per meal, plans, clients, or depending on how many people you can handle at once.
Also, if you take part in events or work extra hours.
For the salary, you can make about $80k per year, especially if you take it as a side hustle.
Some may make less, around $50k-60k, based on how many hours your work, how you build your plan, and the clients you have.
For those who dedicate more time, it’s possible to go over the $100k mark as they gain more experience and clients as well.
Tips to Get Started as a Personal Chef & Make $$$
If you’re all in for the side hustle and want to make the most out of it, we have some tips and additional factors you need to take notes on and work in:
Branding Your Services
For it, create your own business website and social media profiles so people can find you only and have a good idea of your personal brand and image as a personal chef.
Instagram is a popular platform for foodies. You will need a Facebook page that includes your company information—yes, even if you are alone—, your gallery, and any services offered.
You Must Start Networking
Your friends should spread the word about your business, first on social media and then in person.
Open houses are a great way to share your business with family and friends. Make sure you have business cards ready to give to people who may be interested in your personal services!
Online, using your website, you can start selling pre-sale services, videos, and Instagram posts. If budget and time allow, a party could be held to celebrate the site’s launch.
You can also create your professional profile. This can be done on LinkedIn but could also be extended to local communities, online groups, and professional networks.
Once you’re established in your industry, it’s a good idea to build strong relationships with food vendors to ensure you have access to fresh, high-quality, and current, in-demand ingredients.
Improve Your Customer Service Skills
Personal chefs must work closely with their clients to meet their nutritional needs and preferences.
It is important to be able to communicate with clients effectively and listen to their needs.
Learn About the Business Side of Things
Personal chefs are more than just about cooking. This career involves many business-related aspects, such as obtaining permits, liability insurance and taxes, certifications, licensure, and certifications.
To ensure that you are able to manage the business aspects of this career, it is important to be familiar with them.
You Can Learn Many Cooking Styles & Techniques
Any personal or private chef will likely come across people with different dietary requirements and preferences.
You will be better equipped to cater to your clients’ tastes by knowing how to cook different cuisines and foods.
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