When I lost my beloved job 8 years ago, (selling the finest wines of the world, yo), and got left in chronic pain after my third back surgery, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I’m in pain when sitting, couldn’t bend much, couldn’t lift anything heavy … so – long driving is out, even sitting through a movie is a problem, office work is out, what is it that I can do? I’ve to make a living somehow! And, I lost a source to get my wines on employee’s discount, and that truly sucked big time!
So I thought, and thought, and looked and searched, and some trials and mistakes later, I found my personal chef business. Maybe it was a natural expansion of my love for food and wine, after running my own restaurant kitchen, years back. And you know what? I don’t hurt when I stand! So, perfect! Running my own business is also flexible enough to manage the work load when I don’t feel that well. I don’t have employees to worry about when I need to take few days off.
Little did I know that I started some of the most exciting chapter of my professional career!
The whole new world opened for me with this business. I’m meeting new people every day and luckily, they appreciate quality food, my personality and my style of cooking. Wine was originally created and meant to accompany food and a gourmet food without a wine – is like a day without a smile. Right? Or like a meatball without the marinara sauce?
Most importantly, I love the idea behind my business. The feel that aside a culinary experience, I’m giving my clients back something even more important – the TIME. If they hire me, they don’t have to spend their precious time grocery shopping, cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen afterwards anymore. My clients come home, decide what they like to have for dinner (meals are ready for them in the fridge prepared just the way they like it) – and all there is left to do is to heat it up and enjoy their time with the family.
My schedule started filling up quickly. It was obvious that there was a market for what I was offering. And it’s not just one type of customers. I’ve cooked for professional athletes but also for busy single mom who runs her business and when she comes home, she wants to eat well, healthy, organic, and enjoy the little time she has left with her child. I prepared a diet program for a single professional who didn’t cook himself but wanted to lose weight and eat more clean.
I’ve cooked regular meals for someone on super strict diet, when everything I prepared had to be finely pureed and fed via feeding tube. I’ve prepared high-end gourmet wine dinners with expert wine pairing, or a manager’s get-away on the yacht, where everything had to be top notch.
You can tell this is far from boring. I have the most fun preparing Romantic dinners for young love birds, but can’t complain being a important piece of one special dinner for sweet couple on their 65th Anniversary. This work can’t be more interesting! Every day is a different place, meeting different people, cooking in beautiful kitchens, and creating different cuisines.
Looking back I realized that I didn’t enjoy repetitions in my life, and need to challenge myself all the time.
That’s why this business is the best thing that happened to me. I get to be creative, flexible, I get to improvise, make my own decisions and even choose my own clients! To stay on top of the game, I also constantly study new trends and diets so I can help my clients making healthier choices.
Holidays may have been the most difficult. Not because I’ve to work on holidays (again, it’s my choice and I don’t have to). But just imagine, taking over someone’s Thanksgiving or Passover and prepare everything for the family! A challenge may be understatement. It’s the family’s once a year traditional get together where the food plays the most important role. Every family have their favorite dishes, so what if they wouldn’t care for mine? What if I screw up a turkey? How would I replace that on the spot when the guests are coming and Thanksgiving dinner is about to start? It could be nerve wracking 🙂
Preparing someone’s meals or their important dinner party,
in the privacy of their own kitchen, is quite personal.
We all have different ideas, tastes, allergies or likes and to create menu that works for every guest could be another challenge. Unlike in professional kitchen, where chef works behind the closed doors, I’ve a very direct, in my face feedback. Luckily for me, mostly positive.
I found out it completes me. I get to cook, be creative, enjoy variety of people, sometimes even get to be entertaining. Those years on the stage in my twenties pay off!
I soon realized there is more demand that I can possibly satisfy since I’ve to mind my own physical condition. I’ve also seen my share of desperate “personal chefs” running around in circles, getting hired for “any job” and getting paid peanuts. Not only they will burn out quickly, they also kind of spoil it for the quality market. When I spoke with one, he was frustrated that “the good clients are only for the selected few”.
No, they’re not! You can have a thriving, professional business in a matter of just few weeks! Does it take some work? Absolutely! But it pays off. Sometimes the hardest thing is to stop and take a hard, honest look at your business from the outside in order to figure out where could be a problem. Lots of people don’t even bother, they just keep hassling, pushing through, getting nowhere and thinking that it’s supposed to be that way.
And then I realized that my years of customer service, sales and business experience can help others to attracts the right clients. Those that appreciate your creativity and pay fair price for that – even if you don’t have shiny culinary degree or thousands of dollars to spend on advertising.
If I could have done it, without any connections, knowledge of the market (we just moved into the state when I started), any experience in this field, in a second language – so can you!
Is Personal chef business something you’re considering? Then don’t just dive in loosing your head. Let me help you. Entering this fun industry can be done without repeating the necessary mistakes we all did. Don’t loose time and money figuring out how NOT to do it.
When I first started there wasn’t place to turn, ask questions, get recommendations on thousands of small details – and do it safely, in a closed community so the clients wouldn’t see that. A place where you can take your mask-off and vent, discuss, give advice or ask anything you need to know regarding this business.
and you are invited!
So, if you’re aspiring chef (amateur or professional) or if you already have the business that’s doing OK, but you feel in your gut that there must be more to it (and there is!!!) you should definitely join our community. Be the founding source that builds this hot place for chefs!
But there is a catch – don’t even bother IF:
- you know the best and all you do is complain but never change anything
- you’re happy with the way things are and don’t feel the need to improve it
- you don’t have the drive to excel in what you do
- your every sentence starts with: I know, but ….
- all you do is criticizing others
- you think that your so-so job is good enough and you should get rich right now
I’m starting this virtual hot pan where there is lots of different spices and ingredients, heat but mutual respect, where we’re helping each other, sharing experiences, good, bad and ugly, because there is nowhere else to vent. Did you ever try to complain about your work to your spouse? So you know what I mean!
We’re Sizzling here, baby!
If you’re a professional chef, sick and tired of working long hours at the restaurant with that promotion nowhere on the horizon, or just an enthusiastic, great cook who is considering to make your hobby into a career, this place is for you too!
I always believed that we all need mentors to grow, and nobody can give you valuable insides like people who’re already in the pot, killing it!
Doesn’t matter if you’re a culinary institute’s superstar looking to start on your own, or just want to make some extra money on the side as stay-at-home-mom. Personal chef will change your life! And it might be the only position within culinary world that doesn’t require long hours, weekends, exhausting stress or plenty of investment.
It’s your business. It’s up to you how you manage it.
I started with sending bits of wisdom I collected over time. Stuff that nobody could answer for me when I first started out: what do I charge, where do I look for business, what do I say when they tell me it’s too expensive, how do I approach client, what should be in my contract… If you want to find out more about The Sizzling mission just shoot me an email and become
Because worse thing that can happen when you start on your own – is to end up like this:
Just blending in, with every other chef out there…
Don’t be just hot, sizzle baby!
Chef Vera’s Personal chef services are available at Palm Beach County, Broward County and Miami-Dade County in Florida.