A personal chef is an individual who prepares meals for families and, sometimes, for business organizations. One can train to become a personal chef. Others who are naturally skilled in cooking can start taking in clients. But it is highly recommended that someone get formal training through vocational courses or obtain a culinary degree from a university.
Personal chefs are responsible for preparing anything edible. They are in charge of the whole process of preparing meals, from planning a menu to cleaning the kitchen after all the work is done. There are many opportunities for personal chefs, since they can find employment in guest homes, on yachts and private planes, and in family homes.
A personal chef can wear many different hats. There are many things a personal chef can do; the responsibilities may include meal planning, shopping for ingredients, cooking, and even cleaning up after the meals are made. There are times when personal chefs manage a team of cooks during special occasions. This profession requires more than excellent cooking skills; a chef must also make sure he or she knows a little bit about nutrition because there are times when a client needs to follow certain dietary guidelines.
Personal chefs work closely together with clients. They have to take into consideration the clients' preferences when crafting a meal plan. It is important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure client satisfaction. A personal chef has to be ready to do everything necessary to get meal preparation right. Only the exact ingredients must be used in all meal plans. That means if a client prefers a certain kind of cheese or nut, the chef must use that. Even if it means he or she has to drive around town for hours, searching for the store where that ingredient is available. Precision and accuracy is important as well.
Compared to professional chefs, personal chefs enjoy more flexible work schedules. Since families employ them, personal chefs need to be at the clients' homes most of the time to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In most cases, breakfast is prepared the night before as many chefs are not required to be at the house early. Some families are also more likely to skip breakfast and opt for cereals or freshly baked bread, which can be delivered to the home.
Some chefs may work for more than 10 hours a day, depending on the needs of the family. However, there are also times when a chef can clock in only a few hours or not work for several days at times when a family is on vacation.
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One has to get formal training to become a personal chef. Some people may take a vocational course or get a culinary degree from a university straight out of high school. But it's not uncommon to see some people switch careers and take up culinary courses.
Aspiring personal chefs need to have organizational and people skills to do well in their line of work. Meal planning will need a lot of focus and proper organizational skills to avoid making a mistake. Some clients may need to stick to a very specific diet, and their personal chef has to make sure to stick to it.
Without the right organizational skills, a personal chef cannot prepare meals on time. That is not going to sit well with clients. It is also important that aspiring cooks know how to behave around people. Even though they are treated like part of the family, they still have to observe the right etiquette especially at times when prominent guests are invited to the house.
In the United States, the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA) is the biggest trade association that helps individuals set up and operate this kind of business. In England, the North East Culinary Trade Association (NECTA) helps provide skills and opportunities to chefs, food producers, and cooks.
The following are some of the top culinary schools in the world:
Grand Rapids Community College (USA)
Le Cordon Bleu (France)
International Centre for Culinary Arts (Dubai)
Johnson & Wales University (USA)
Hong Kong Culinary Academy (Hong Kong)
The Culinary Institute of America (USA)
The French Culinary Institute (USA)
Culinary Academy of India (India)
Hattori Nutrition College (Japan)
Keiser University Centre for Culinary Arts (USA, Australia)
Personal chefs usually work in their clients' homes. It is uncommon for chefs to prepare meals at their own homes because specific laws prohibit this to avoid food poisoning and other issues with food preparation. Personal chefs can also rent a kitchen to prepare dishes and then just deliver them to the client's home.
Because food preparation takes a lot of time, personal chefs may spend many hours in the client's home. That means working more than 12 hours is not uncommon. Though some families treat their chefs no differently than a family member, they still have to maintain a little distance and not overstep some boundaries. It is very uncommon for personal chefs to dine together with the family.