Choosing a personal or private chef is a daunting proposition. You’re inviting this person into your home, asking them to cook food for you and yours. Here’s information on what to expect and questions you should ask prospective chefs.
When you find the right chef, the rewards are wonderful. No longer will your busy schedule influence the all-important dinner hour. Good luck!
How do I find a personal or private chef?
APPCA can help you find a qualified chef in your neighborhood. Click here for a state search.
What is the difference between a personal chef and a private chef?
A private chef is employed by one individual or family full time, and often lives in, preparing up to three meals per day. A personal chef serves several clients, usually one per day, and provides multiple meals that are custom-designed for the clients’ particular requests and requirements. These meals are packaged and stored, so that the client may enjoy them at his or her leisure in the future.
Why should I hire a personal or private chef who is a member of the American Personal & Private Chef Association?
APPCA sets the professional bar high, so those seeking to hire a personal or private chef know that if they hire a member of APPCA, they’re hiring a trained professional. Our chefs have completed rigorous food-safety training.
Does the chef cook in my kitchen?
Yes, generally meals are prepared in the safety of your own kitchen, although some personal chefs are moving to licensed kitchens and delivery service. Normally, on the agreed upon cooking date, the personal chef will bring the fresh ingredients for your meals, along with their own pots, pans and utensils, and prepare your dishes on site. At the end of the day the chef will leave your kitchen clean and full of the aroma of good home cooking.
How long will the chef be here?
The chef will likely be cooking several different entrées and side dishes from scratch, so it will probably take several hours. However, your personal chef will typically be most willing to work with your schedule or situation, and make arrangements in advance, so that the cooking date fits into your schedule.
Do I heat the food?
Yes. Any entrées that have been stored for you in your freezer should be defrosted overnight in your refrigerator, and re-heated, to be enjoyed at the peak of their flavor. Your personal chef will leave you with easy to follow heating instructions for each dish.
How much freezer space is needed?
It depends on the number of meals you request, and the sizes of the containers, but it does generally require a considerable amount of freezer space. You and your chef should take a look at your freezer to see just how much room you have available. Efficient storage is one of the reasons many personal chefs prefer to select the storage containers for their clients.
How much is it going to cost?
Although personal-chef fees vary, they typically are expressed per entrée or per serving. The fees actually represent all of the components that make up a professional personal-chef service. For example, the assessment process that a personal chef completes to determine your likes, needs, special dietary requirements and requests is used to customize your menu selections. They modify their recipes to reflect your wants and needs; meal selections are submitted for your approval; all of the groceries needed for your meals are included; and your meals are all prepared in the safety of your own kitchen. Plus, packaging, labeling and storing your entrées are all features included in this price.
If you were to compare a personal-chef service to restaurant service you could think of it this way: For a restaurant, you must drive to get there, possibly wait for a table, take a chance that your server is having a good day, and if you have allergies or special requests, you don’t always have the guarantee that they will be honored. After eating your meal you must pay for it, tip the server, and get back in your vehicle to drive home.
If you have a personal-chef service, you can heat a beautiful entrée that has been prepared specifically for your palate and requirements, and eat it in the comfort of your own home.
Before inviting someone into your home to cook meals that will nourish your family, be sure to ask these questions:
What is your cooking background?
Knowing how the chef acquired his or her cooking skills will help you determine whether it’s a good match for your needs.
How does your service differ from other personal-chef services?
Look for answers that illustrate a high quality of ingredients, sound food-safety practices and menu creativity.
Do you have liability insurance?
You need to know that if the rare, but unfortunate accident happens while the chef is cooking in your kitchen, that the chef has proper insurance to reimburse you. APPCA offers unrivaled liability insurance to its membership. Click here to learn more. General Liability Insurance.
Are you affiliated with a professional organization?
This question will help you weed out the amateurs from the professionals. If the personal or private chef belongs to an organization such as APPCA, you know three things to be true about the chef:
Do you have any references?
Anyone you’re considering hiring should have testimonials from contented clients. They should be eager to share them with you.
May I view a sample menu?
A professional personal or private chef should jump at the chance to showcase his or her recipes. They should be a great source of pride for the chef. Not only can you measure the chef’s passion by how eagerly he or she responds to this question, reviewing the sample menus will give you a good measure of the chef’s style of cooking.