Being a Personal Chef
So you want to be a personal chef? Well, I am here to tell you that is a great idea! There are tons of professions that come along with being in the hospitality industry and I want to make sure that this does not get omitted when you are going through your choices. Let me tell you what it is like in the day and life of a personal chef. I am also going to clue you in as to what you need to know before you take the plunge and give this whole personal chef thing a go.
When you are decided and ready to make this your career of choice there are a couple of things that are not talked about and I want to make sure that you are aware of what you are getting into. Getting clients is by far the hardest part of choosing to do this a profession. There are multiple ways that you can go about this but I would definitely study up on and sharpen your marketing skills before you go all in on this. I personally did this all wrong and decided that going door to door in the Texas summer was my option, I will say that it did work, I will also say that I almost died out there trying to get my first customer. Here in Austin, we like food and I think that helped me out a lot when I was headed down this path because my clientele was very accepting of the idea. So rule number one: MAKE SURE THERE IS A MARKET FOR YOU SERVICES IN YOUR AREA.
Rule number two: LEARN HOW TO RUN AND OPERATE A BUSINESS. I had to find out the hard way (much like a lot of you are finding out) how to run and operate a business. With this comes so many obstacles that it is hard for me to even type up a list. Amongst the issues that I had, my biggest difficulty was that I knew nothing at all about how to get people “into my door”. I started going door to door with flyers, I put them on parked cars in carefully placed parts of town, I went to meet ups, I joined the American Personal Chef Association, I went high-rise to high-rise and yet I still found myself with (yep, you guessed it) no clients. On the morning of my 25th birthday I had $.43 to my name. I will never forget that day as I was down on myself for doing this. I threw away a great job at one of the best restaurants in the country, I spent all my money, I couldn’t even afford to buy myself a beer on my birthday. WHAT HAD I DONE? Well, not 10 minutes after I woke up, I went to go check my email box to find a SUBMISSION FORM!!!!! It all started, I had my first potential client and I was literally ready to jump out of bed and do anything that I possibly could to nail that client down. Today, I have more business than I know what to do with and I am finding myself asking the question.. Why has nobody put together a community where people that are in the same career path can link up and solve these kinds of problems. Investing constantly into my business, I taught myself marketing (which is now my second for of income, as I offer marketing consulting to multiple clients around Austin using Social Media.)
Rule number three: MAKE SURE THAT YOU INVEST IN LEARNING HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA. Social Media is that way that we are all able to get out into the open with our services. Without social media, it is insanely difficult to get the word out there that you are cooking for clients. I did this mainly through instagram and was able to get multiple clients after months of hard work. Really, I did this the wrong way and ended up taking a long time to figure out exactly what I was doing with my content. It is super important to gather as much content as you can so you can show the world what kind of food you are made of. My social media has easily allowed me to gain some kind of recognition with your branding. GATHER CONTENT FOR YOUR PERSONAL CHEF BUSINESS.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PERSONAL CHEF:
7:00AM: Wake up and get that coffee into your body, you have to be at the grocery store right when it opens so you can avoid all lines and get the best produce. Side note: Find a grocery store that you can make good relationships with and make sure to say hello to all the employees, as you grow your business, this will help a ton with different problems you might face.
7:30AM: Get your menu for the day ready to go so you are not stuck guessing what you are going to make at the grocery store.
8:00AM: Arrive at the store ready to rock and roll!
9:00AM: Exit the grocery store and start heading to your clients house for the day.
9:30AM: Arrive at your clients house and get all your supplies and ingredients in line so you have a plan of attack when you are getting ready to cook.
10:00AM: Cook your ass off. I usually like to batch out my recipes. I do things in batches as it allows me to gather my thoughts and get a jump on what I have ahead of me. This is where you will lose the most amount of time. You mess one thing up here and you can cost yourself not only time but precious ingredients and a potential trip to the store. I have done this multiple times and I want to stress that you WILL make this mistake, that is okay, learn from it and move on. When I first started, it would take me 6-7 hours and nowadays I can knock out a cook in 3-4. It is all about how you manage your time and ingredients. Don't think for a second that this is not hard work. It is nothing like restaurant work but it is definitely hard work.
3-4:00PM: Finish your cook and get out of the families house so they can enjoy their space without a "stranger" being in there.
5:00PM: Arrive home, pour yourself a glass of wine or beer and check your email so you can wrap your head around your next days cooks.
6:00PM: Learning time. Always be learning. Make sure that you are constantly updating your recipe book with new and improved recipes. This is where the fun is, but it also takes dedication. You will find yourself getting into a slump when your creativity isn't working for you. That is okay, stick with it, take a break and continue on the next day. There are always going to be days where you think it is not worth it, but trust me, after 3 years of doing this... it is work it.
Being a personal chef in Austin, Texas has taught me a lot about the bigger picture in my life. It has allowed me to interact with some bright minds and also be in tune with what is going on in my cities culinary adventure. If you think that the restaurant game is not for you, becoming a personal chef could be your golden ticket. There are ups and there are downs and with any job there are trials and tribulations. It is up to you to take this opportunity and thought and make something out of it. If you have any questions, please call me or email me from the contact page of this site. I hope that all of you find love in cooking and most importantly have fun. Take care guys and ladies and enjoy the ride of being a personal chef.
— Chef Ryan