dcsimg

Personal Chef Careers and Education

Personal chefs are more accessible than you might think.

When you think of the work of personal chefs, you may imagine fancy cuisine served on silver platters to a pampered starlet or wealthy businessman. However, the day-to-day work of the thousands of current professional personal chefs located throughout the country is much more diverse than just that.

Culinary Arts

Unlike restaurant chefs, who prepare meals in keeping with the theme or focus of the restaurant, its location, and its clientele, personal chefs focus on one or a handful of clients, preparing meals according to their particular tastes, desires, and needs. They plan, buy ingredients for, and prepare meals for clients. Some personal chefs may prepare meals on a weekly basis and freeze them so that clients may later reheat them as needed, while others may cook to order for one client each day. Personal chefs keep their clients' dietary and budgetary needs in mind, presenting challenges that often require specialized training.

Who Do Personal Chefs Work For?

Employers: Many personal chefs are self-employed, although others may work for catering businesses or a growing number of dinner-assembly businesses. Some others may work in-house for businesses or corporations, government agencies, resorts, or nonprofit organizations, preparing meals for a small set of workers or participants on a regular basis. Restaurants or hotels can also hire personal chefs, who are dispatched on a per-event basis to prepare meals for client parties or special events.

Customers: Example customers for personal chefs can be the stereotypical businessman, but the more typical client is the two-income family. These clients may not have time to cook or, in the case of disabled persons or seniors, are unable to prepare their own meals.

The Workplace: Workplaces for personal chefs can either be the client’s home, a professional kitchen, or out of the chef’s own home kitchen.

What Do Personal Chefs Need To Know?

Flexibility with their cooking: Personal chefs are expected to be talented in the kitchen, but they also need to know how to tailor a diverse range of recipes to their clients’ preferences. Some clients, for example, avoid salty foods, prefer to put more garlic than normal in their sauces, or simply do not like mushrooms. Other clients may want a certain calorie cap to their meals, may have gluten-free diets, or may be avoiding a high-fat diet to lose weight. Since personal chefs cater to specific client requests instead of replicating an order from an executive chef, they need to know how to adapt menus to different needs.

Cook both fancy and familiar foods: It helps to have a skill set on par with that of professional restaurant chefs. However, clients often order familiar foods such as beef stew, pot roast, or pasta with shrimp as opposed to fancier dishes.

Know good nutrition: Some personal chefs tout good nutrition as part of their culinary repertoire. Part-nutritionist, part-health coach, these personal chefs take pride in the fact that they not only help busy clients free up more time in their schedules, but that they can help others eat a healthier diet.

Business essentials: Self-employed personal chefs, who currently constitute the majority of the profession, must understand the business essentials for keeping their cooking operations sustainable. Good customer service skills are also a must: personal chefs, whether self-employed or working for a company, must understand common practices for keeping customers happy.

Is a Formal Education Necessary to Become a Personal Chef?

No stringent regulations require personal chefs to pursue professional training prior to this line of work. In lieu of a formal culinary education, many personal chefs learn the trade through years of restaurant experience or are simply cooking enthusiasts who use a prior understanding of business operations to start a new career.

Still, there are certifications and degrees that can provide highly applicable training for a career as a personal chef. The American Culinary Federation, for example, offers a Personal Chef Certification which demonstrates a level of knowledge in the field. Applicants for this must meet educational and work prerequisites before taking a written exam. In addition, culinary schools offering a range of certificates, diplomas, and degrees can also build solid cooking techniques and business skills. Relevant courses offered in culinary school can include:

  • Knife techniques
  • Use and care of kitchen equipment
  • Nutrition
  • Menu planning
  • Portion control
  • Food storage and sanitation methods
  • Food service management
  • Inventory and purchasing

In the end, clients base their hiring decisions on a personal chef’s mix of prior experience, certifications, and education. In this sense, a culinary arts degree can add significant appeal to a resume. Those who are interested can consult a guide to culinary arts schools that provides additional information on coursework, degree programs, and financial aid.

Personal Chef Salary and Job Outlook

This small segment of food service workers is growing rapidly. The American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), for example, puts their membership count at 9,000 people and expects that number to double in the next five years. Salaries for personal chefs vary widely depending on the employer, the number of hours worked (part- or full-time), and a variety of other factors. The APPCA lists member salaries ranging between $200 and $500 a day, depending on the clientele.

Additional Resources for Personal Chef Careers
American Personal & Private Chef Association information
American Culinary Federation: Personal Chef Certificate instructions

Featured Culinary Schools

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Founded in Southern California in 1998 by dog training expert Steven Appelbaum.
  • The largest independent dog training company in the United States.
  • Offers 11-stage programs that feature an in-home study component along with a hands-on training module.
  • A member of the MyCAA Financial Assistance program, which offers eligible military spouses up to $4,000 of tuition assistance that can be used towards any of their courses.
  • Helps graduates find employment and coaches those who are looking to start their own business.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available to students who qualify.
  • Has over 50 locations in 27 countries around the world.
  • Tuition covers equipment costs, including an Apple MacBook Pro and other recording equipment
  • United States campuses offer programs in Audio Technology, Beat Lab Production, Electronic Music Production, iPhone App Development, and Music Business.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Show more [+]

The University of Florida is ranked #5 in the country by U.S. News & World Report for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. The rankings were based on faculty credentials and training, student services & technology, and student engagement – basically all the factors that contribute to an exceptional online education experience. Be greater. Be a gator.

  • Online Courses
  • Ranked #11 in the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in Social Work by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers more specialization opportunities than any other social work program, with 10 concentrations and sub-concentrations and 8 dual-degree programs.
  • The first elite researching university to offer a Master of Social Work degree online.
  • Has 4,000 field internship opportunities that give students real-world experience.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Designated as a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Houses one of the largest library systems in the Pacific Northwest, with 3 libraries on the Pullman campus and a library at each regional campus.
  • Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
  • Has 5 Washington campuses in Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and Everett.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Students can complete an entry-level technician program in about a year, and manufacturer training and graduate in as little as 18 months.
  • Provides technical education training programs for automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, and marine technicians.
  • Partners with many well-known manufacturers, including General Motors, Porsche Cars North America Inc., and BMW of North America LLC.
  • Offers internships to students and alumni for first-hand experience.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
  • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
  • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
NCP College of Nursing , South San Francisco

NCP is a California State approved College of Nursing that serves the San Francisco Bay Area. Our nursing programs are attended by many students from nearby of San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Pacifica, Millbrae, Brisbane, San Mateo, Burlingame, Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Union City, Fremont, Concord and San Jose.

• Originally founded in 1899, making it one of the oldest colleges of osteopathic medicine.
• Specializes in osteopathic medicine, which features a “whole person” approach to medicine, treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms with a focus on preventive health care. 
• Faculty conducts ongoing research projects and scholarly activities in the field of medicine and healthcare.
• Offers Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) programs and several graduate programs.
• Accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Show more [+]
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
  • Ranked 33rd among the Best Grad Schools for Social Work in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Founded in 1904 as the nation’s first institute of higher learning to offer training for clinical social workers.
  • Provides a rigorous education, including a nationally accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) Program and PhD in Social Work.  
  • Offers inventive programs with hands-on experience.  
  • Incorporates social justice values and multicultural perspectives into curriculum. 
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses