How To Become A Private Chef
How to become a private chef involves the love of food and a special flare for working with people. Most chefs attend formal schools and develop a food philosophy. They also work with food and, by trial and error, come up with a cooking style that aligns with their personal philosophy of food. Getting a job as a private chef requires more than a bit of self-promotion.
You'll need a few items before you get work;
- personalized chef's jacket
- same for the chef's hat
- personal set of knives
- personal pans and pots fitting the type of food you'll prepare
- Research chef schools. No matter how talented you are, you must go to chef school to make sure you're on the same page as all the other professionals. They also might teach you some handy tricks of the trade. There are many cooking schools in the U.S. and around the world. Research the qualifications of each school. If you know you want to specialize in regional cooking, head to the region. Who else knows the food better than people in the exact location? That means chefs doing French cooking should go to school, or at least travel, in France. Research scholarships and loans.
- Attend chef school. Go to school to learn. Pick up anything you can. Collect techniques and recipes. Apprentice while you study, even if it means you work for free.
- Apprentice with a master chef. Before receiving your school diploma or training certificate, talk with your favorite instructor about apprenticing with a master chef. If you've done your homework well, the school you've selected should be in sweet with chefs around the country. The apprenticeship should be a matter of simply matching your interests with a chef on the school's list. If this doesn't come together, get some quality references from your teachers and start researching some master chefs on your own. Write a quality letter of introduction and have everyone you know read it for quality, grammar and sincerity. Work it into a professional form along with your resume and send these out to all the chefs on your personal list of favorites. If your instructor knows a chef of interest, ask for a letter of invitation. Don't wait for each person to answer. Send out packages to everyone on the list. Better to have several offers than to be waiting forever on a single invite. Follow up with a phone call after a week or two.
- Apprentice with a private chef. Once you've done the master chef apprenticeship, how to become a private chef involves seeking out a private chef for another apprenticeship. This may be part-time while you work as a chef in another field. Follow the same advice as above.
- Hobnob and network. During school, as an apprentice and as you're working, always hobnob and network. Don't be obvious, but work it. Get out. Go to restaurants. Make calls and meet people. How to become a private chef is more about who you know, rather than what you know after you're trained.
- Develop a personal style and persona. A style is important in making sure people remember you. It might be your style of clothing or signature knives.
- Develop a unique resume. Keep your resume current at all times and at least one neat presentation package in your briefcase (yes, briefcase) and car.
- Join the professional chef associations. The U.S. Personal Chef Association is a good place to start. They also have information about how to become a private chef.
- Collect references. Ask for a reference for every place you work, apprentice and volunteer in. Keep copies of the letters in a neat presentation portfolio. Keep the originals some place safe. How to become a private chef is all about the networking.
- Market yourself. Develop and trademark a name or cooking style. Integrate this logo into all of your equipment, including your knives and any paperwork you give out. How to become a private chef involves making a web site that uses the logo and presents your experience and expertise.
"How to Start a Home-Based Personal Chef Business," Denise Vivaldo, 2006
"The Professional Personal Chef," Candy Wallace, 2007