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If you love cooking but hate being on stage, this job might not be for you. There’s no hiding out in the kitchen when you’re working as a private chef. These days, most of my client’s kitchens are open and facing the dining area. It’s common for guests to eat right at the kitchen counter bar because they want to see the show. In the intimate space of your client’s home, you are part of the experience for the guests: You are their chef, bartender, teacher, friend, and ultimately, eventually, their drinking buddy. They want to know what you are working on and how they can improve their own cooking techniques. They will ask what knife you are using before launching into a detailed account of their latest trip to Italy. You are part of the party. And, sometimes, you are the party.

A frequent question I get, do I cook like this at home? You must be joking perhaps once a month I can’t afford food like this on a daily basis, but when I do get to cook like this I use every ounce of heart!

A private chef doesn’t just need to be sociable, I need to be flexible. While I always try to bring essential tools with me, I often get to a job and realize that I’ll just have to wing it on certain things. If my client only has those infuriating, knife-destroying glass cutting boards, I roll with it. If I forget to bring salt and I have to rely on my client’s doll-house-sized shaker, I roll with it. If I didn’t bring knives with and I’m forced to use my client’s horrible collection of serrated—all serrated(!)—knives…You guessed it. I roll with it.

Then location be flexible from picnics at the rock’s edge overlooking the ocean, to a braai up the river, with a small motor boat that gets stuck half way, with no mobile signal…anything can happen but in the end its the effort and the love for what one does that makes it fun!

Still, if you truly love to cook, and have the guts to run your own business, it’s a damn fine career choice. That is, as long as you can handle intimate conversations, extrovert and introvert clients, occasional party goers, and some occasional nudity. Did I mention nudity? Because, well, there’s that, too.