How to Start a Personal Chef Home Business

Turn Your Love of Cooking Into Income

Personal Chef Home Business
Make a living cooking for others. Credit: gerenme | Getty Images

For anyone who has a love for all things culinary, a personal chef home business could be very rewarding. With the increasing numbers of people who are just too busy with their work to worry about meal preparation, including many home business owners, demand could be steady.

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 depends some on experience, training and type of menu requested, but Entrepreneur.com indicates rates for personal chefs is $35 to $50 per hour.

Pros of Personal Chef Home Business

  • Very low start up costs - In most cases, you can use the kitchen supplies and equipment provided by the client. 
  • 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 the 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.

Cons of Personal Chef Home Business

  • Many people are very fussy about their food and may have special dietary requirements.
  • Professional chef experience and/or training, while not a requirement would be very helpful, and might allow you to charge more.
  • All food-related businesses carry some liability exposure. In this case, a client could become ill or injured from your cooking.
  • It might not be a good choice in tough economic times, when people cut back on unnecessary extras and entertainment.

What You Need to Get Started  as Personal Chef 

  • Decide what, if any, specialty you'll focus on or target group. For example, will you do only corporate parties and retreats? Will you be a clean eating chef?
  • Practice cooking and in particular, work on food presentation. 
  • Complete 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 (planning what to cook before arriving at the client's place), expenses (i.e. food), and your time. Remember, some foods cost more, so you'll need to consider that when providing a bid to your client.
  • Obtain needed insurance to protect you and your business if someone gets ill from your food.
  • Start recruiting clients. Start with your friends and family. Consider advertising or posting bulletins in your church or other organization, or at local stores.
  • Build a website that outlines your services, and be sure to post testimonials from satisfied clients. 
  • 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.
  • Develop system for getting referrals and testimonials

The trick is to find clients and there are many ways to do that, such as word of mouth and cooking classes. Additionally, personal chefs may decide to join the local chapter of the Personal Chef Association.

You can add additional income streams to your service such as running a food blog, writing a cook book, or teaching cooking classes. If you enjoy it, you might consider expanding your business to include catering

The life of a personal chef is examined in this interview piece.

One personal chef was quoted as saying he "Rides to the rescue of those just too tired to whip up something after long days at the office".