A personal chef is ideal for busy families and individuals who have strict dietary needs. Their job involves visiting your home and preparing meals according to a pre-planned menu designed around your dietary needs and favorite foods. Personal chefs can do anything from grocery shopping for the food to cooking meals to providing instructions for reheating and serving the food. To hire a personal chef, first determine your culinary needs, then interview several candidates to find the one best suited to your lifestyle.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Determining Your Needs

  1. Personal chefs provide a range of services. Some offer assistance with dinner parties (or other single-meal events like date night) by planning a menu, shopping, prepping the ingredients, cooking, and cleaning up.[1]
    • Others offer their services more regularly through weekly meal prep—cooking a variety of dishes for you to reheat and serve throughout the week.
  2. People often hire personal chefs when they are making major shifts in their diets. Accommodating conditions like diabetes or gluten allergies can be easier with the guidance of a professional. Or, you may simply be interested in eating healthier and incorporating more organic ingredients. [2]
    • Keep in mind that more restrictive dietary requests, such as organic only or gluten-free, will likely increase the cost.
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  3. A certified or professionally affiliated chef has met certain standards and undergone training in safe food handling and preparation. They likely value continuing education and perpetually progressing in their craft. Through their professional association, they also have access to the latest industry trends and research.[3]
    • These are typically national or international organizations. Some well-known examples include the International Association of Professional Organizations, the American Personal and Private Chef Association, and the United States Personal Chef Association.
    • Not all personal chefs belong to a professional chef organization, however, and that doesn't mean they’re not reputable cooks. A chef with culinary training or work experience in a restaurant is likely reputable, even if they haven't joined a professional organization. Hiring based on professional affiliation simply assures that all candidates have been fully vetted by industry professionals.
    • Certified or affiliated chefs are generally more expensive.
  4. Hiring a personal chef can be much more affordable than you might expect. Half a day’s cooking (approximately two meals for the week) costs upwards of $250.[4] Prices vary significantly depending on your area and whether you’ve got strict dietary restrictions, however. Decide how much you can budget for a personal chef, and use that number to guide your search.[5]
    • In the U.S., for instance, the median price of a personal chef cooking five meals for a family of four is roughly $200-$300 per week (not including groceries).[6]
    • Compared to North America, personal chef services are about 15% more expensive on average in Asia and South America.[7]
    • To save money, consider hiring a talented amateur cook—they tend to be far cheaper than a professional personal chef. Think of friends, family members, or acquaintances who are excellent cooks and consider asking them if they would be willing to regularly prepare meals for you or your family for a fee. The best way to find amateur cooks is typically through personal networks like friends or neighbors.
    • Splitting the service with another family or a friend can also make a personal chef more affordable.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Searching for Candidates

  1. Websites like Thumbtack, Angie’s List, Craigslist, and Care.com have sections devoted to chef services. Some of them also feature reviews from previous customers. Search through the available personal chefs in your area to see if any of them stand out.
    • It’s difficult to transport food long distances, particularly if it’s being cooked off-site. Use location services to find candidates within a reasonable distance of your home.
    • This may be a better search option if you are looking for a chef who doesn’t belong to a professional chef association.
  2. If you have determined that affiliation is important to you, you can hone your search by using dedicated portals created by professional chef associations. The International Association of Professional Organizations offers a directory that includes professional personal chefs at https://www.iapcollege.com/iapo-professional-directory/.
    • If you are located in the United States, the American Personal and Private Chef Association (APPCA) allows you to search for personal chefs by state at https://www.personalchefsearch.com/.
    • The United States Personal Chef Association also features a search portal for affiliated personal chefs at https://www.hireachef.com/.
  3. If you know people who use personal chefs, speak with them about setting up an interview with their personal chefs. They might also know an amateur cook who would be interested. These individuals tend to be much cheaper than a professional personal chef, while still being able to meet your family’s culinary needs.[8]
    • If you’re considering an amateur, check your local laws to make sure that personal chefs are not required to have a business license or food handling certification (or both).
  4. Students training to be professional chefs may be looking to pick up a part-time job to build their real-life skills. Make sure to include details about any dietary restrictions and how often you would like them to prepare food for you or your family.[9]
    • When you write your posting, think about including some key information about your home, including: how many children you have and what age they are (if any), when you would like the chef to cook at you home, and any unique quirks your kitchen might have, such as an oven than runs hot. This will ensure the candidates who apply know what their work environment will be like upfront. [10]
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Interviewing Candidates

  1. Ask the chef to bring sample menus and explain how they operate. This is also the time to discuss what the chef charges and how you'll be expected to pay.
    • Double-check that these candidates have personal liability insurance. A number of accidents can happen in the kitchen, so you need to make sure that your personal chef carries liability insurance in case of an accident.
    • If you are in the U.S., ask if they are ServSafe certified. This is a rigorous, national training program focused on safe food handling. If they are not, ask if they've completed other training on safe food handling, such as a course from the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals.
  2. Some people want a chef who has professional training, while others are perfectly fine working with a chef who is self-trained. Asking about where they developed their cooking skills will help you figure out if it’s a good match.[11]
    • Consider asking how their service differs from other personal chefs. Watch for an answer that mentions high-quality ingredients, creativity with menus, and an attention to food safety practices.
  3. Call or email the other clients and ask for their opinions about the chef's food, ability to follow dietary guidelines, and overall personality. Make sure at least one of these references is professional, if not both.
    • Ideally, a potential chef should be able to provide 3 professional and 3 personal references.
  4. This means they will prepare one meal for you so that you can see their cooking style and ability to clean your kitchen to your standards. Not every chef advertises this option, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
    • If they don’t offer a reduced fee, ask about hiring them for full-price for a week or two for a trial run instead.
    • If you're hiring the chef for one event, you may want to hire them for a single, test-run meal to make sure they meet your expectations.
  5. A personal chef should not require you to sign a contract to cook for you. But, some may offer a discount if you do—ask the chef you’re considering if this is the case with their business.[12]
    • Before signing a long-term contract, make sure you’ve done careful research on the chef and contacted several professional and personal references. A contract means you'll have trouble firing the chef should you find that he or she doesn't meet your needs.
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About This Article

Marrow Private Chefs
Reviewed by:
Private Chefs
This article was reviewed by Marrow Private Chefs. Marrow Private Chefs are based in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. It is a chefs’ collaborative comprised of an ever-growing number of chefs and culinary professionals. Though regionally influenced primarily by coastal, traditional southern, cajun, and creole styles and flavors, the chefs at Marrow have a solid background in all types of cuisine with over 75 years of combined cooking experience. This article has been viewed 46,537 times.
15 votes - 73%
Co-authors: 14
Updated: January 30, 2024
Views: 46,537
Categories: Food and Entertaining
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