The Cook's in the Kitchen: The Rise of Personal Chef Careers
By Olivia DeWolfe
When Barack Obama moved from Chicago to the White House in January of 2009, he brought with him his wife, Michelle; daughters, Malia and Sasha; Portuguese water dog, Bo; and personal chef, Sam. That Sam the personal chef, who had been working for the Obamas in Chicago for several years, was included in this move to our nation's capital emphasizes the growth and importance of personal chef careers. And nowadays, it's not just presidents that have personal chefs; at a price tag of $350-$450 a week including groceries, the personal chef trend is surprisingly middle class.
How to Embark on a Career as a Personal Chef
The easiest and most direct wayt o become a personal chef like Sam is to seek out a culinary degree program that offers applicable coursework in its curriculum. In addition to knowing how to cook, personal chefs should also be equipped with the skills to run their own businesses. Culinary schools offer coursework in subjects ranging from foundational cooking and baking to cost control and pricing to communication skills.
If the food service industry is new to you, culinary degree programs provide the foundation you need to change careers. Programs range from six-month certificates and one-year diplomas to two-year associate's and four-year bachelor's degrees, so you can choose the program that best fits your needs and time available.
Culinary Classes for the Experienced Chef
If you've got previous kitchen experience but want to hone your skills and boost your resume in order to land a personal chef job, consider an accelerated program designed for professional chefs. These programs offer business training and advanced skills in a compressed time frame.
Online culinary schools are ideal if you want a flexible learning schedule and need to master the business or managerial aspects of personal chef work such as cost-control, nutrition, finances and marketing.
Some institutions offer short, intensive programs designed for the personal chef business with instruction in topics such as packaging, menu planning, pricing, and designing recipes for meals that store, freeze, and reheat well.
Personal Chef Jobs: A Flexible Culinary Career
Whether you choose a traditional or online culinary degree program, you can use the connections you develop at culinary school to find clients for your personal chef business. A recommendation from your culinary instructor can support your professional standing, for instance.
Unlike chefs who work in busy restaurants, many personal chefs enjoy flexible schedules and control over their own work hours. If you want a chef career without the stress of putting out 200 dinners each night, personal chef training is a great option. And who knows--you might even end up in the White House.
About the Author
Olivia DeWolfe is a freelance chef and writer specializing in all things culinary. She's been cooking professionally for 18 years, and currently runs a personal chef business called The Olive Tree.