Will I work in a restaurant kitchen every night? No, I want to connect with the people I feed on a more intimate level, I wanted to be part of the occasion, part of the experience. Not just a cook in a restaurant kitchen making the same dishes over and over again but using creativity, using passion, using heart. A winning recipe!
I started with a family many years ago that asked me to make Yorkshire puddings, I was horrified that this was not a dessert? Well my first private chef experience, and after this I knew this was my calling. Growing up in a German family, with a father that loved to cook and me loving to have any excuse for a celebration, I would create spring beginning parties and winter parties, all the kids thought it was my birthday constantly. When we had a birthday dinner as a family, I would be the one to get flowers, to decorate the table to make everything look like a celebration. Cooking is part of that, it comes from wanting to celebrate life and celebrate each other!
As a private chef, I facilitate ‘fancy-restaurant-in-your-home’ type events: multi-course dinners prepared in the client’s own kitchen, served tableside with wine pairings (or other drinks). Some private chefs work for many clients throughout the year, like I do, while others work for one family exclusively.
While many people use the terms ‘private chef’ and ‘personal chef’ interchangeably, the jobs are actually quite different. Personal chefs go into a client’s home once or twice a week (or biweekly or monthly) to make several meals, packaging them up for the freezer and refrigerator and leaving instructions for reheating or final preparation. Private chefs, on the other hand, offer a mobile restaurant experience and often educate their clients and guests as part of the evening’s entertainment.
Private chefs are typically ex-restaurant folks who are looking for saner hours, better pay, and a less gruelling work experience. But not everyone in the field comes from a professional restaurant background—these days, many passionate home cooks make their way into the private and personal chef business, often starting with an apprenticeship or some time in culinary school. No matter what your background, if you’re considering getting into this line of work, you’ll want to know the good, the bad, and the uncomfortably awkward.