Personal Chef vs. Private Chef: Two Completely Different Roles

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Personal Chef vs. Private Chef: Two Completely Different Roles

Smiling young woman chef in apron standing at the kitchen

When you are looking for assistance with meal preparation in your home, you have two options. You could hire a personal chef or a private chef. When comparing a personal chef vs. a private chef, while both professionals will cook and prepare meals and share some other similarities, there are some key differences between the two jobs.

It is essential to understand these are two completely different roles to know which one to hire for your household.

What is a personal chef?

A personal chef normally has their own culinary business or is self-employed. Some personal chefs still work in commercial kitchens and offer personal chef services to a few select private clients to supplement their income or when they are first starting their personal chef business.

Most established personal chefs cater primarily to private residences rather than commercial restaurants. They have the freedom to pick and choose their clients. Quite frequently, their client base is a mixture of individuals, married couples without children, retirees, people on special or restricted diets, and families.

A personal chef will prepare meals based on their clients’ specific needs either in their own homes or in the chef’s private kitchen. Meals can be a mixture of freshly prepared meals and pre-prepared meals that are left in the clients’ homes for them to reheat and enjoy throughout the week.

A personal chef establishes their own work hours and schedule. They select their clients based on the hours and days of the week they want to work. Personal chefs typically work on their own. However, for larger events like private parties, they will employ a few assistants to ensure everything is prepared on time.

Besides cooking and preparing meals for private clients and offering their services for private parties, another service many personal chefs offer is in-home cooking demonstrations and lessons for individuals and small groups.

What are the tasks of a personal chef?

the chef prepares a meal in a boxed diet

The tasks of a personal chef can include the following:

  • Creating customized menus for private clients.
  • Creating grocery lists of all the ingredients required for the meals the clients need to purchase or have delivered.
  • Preparation of the meals in the client’s kitchen or in their kitchen when making pre-prepared meals.
  • Leaving detailed instructions on how to reheat pre-prepared meals.
  • Cleaning up the kitchen after preparing meals.
  • Handling all aspects of their business, including marketing, accounting, etc.
  • Offering clients in-home cooking demonstrations and classes.
  • Offering catering services for private parties and other formal events.

Please remember the tasks of a personal chef can vary based on the client’s specific needs. For instance, some personal chefs will take care of shopping for all the ingredients for their clients and invoice them for the cost of the groceries.

What experience should a personal chef have?

A personal chef should have a bachelor’s degree in the Culinary Arts or have completed culinary school. Formal training and experience in a commercial kitchen for several years is common for personal chefs to hone their culinary skills and knowledge and become well-versed in various types of cuisines and cooking techniques.

A personal chef also has several options to earn certifications through various programs, including:

  • The American Culinary Federation
  • Personal Certified Chef
  • The American Personal and Private Chef Association
  • Personal Certified Executive Chef

Once earned, the personal chef can include these certifications on their resume. Having these certifications also demonstrates to clients their personal chef’s dedication and commitment to their career.

What is a private chef?

A private chef dedicates their career to a single client, whether an individual, married couple, or family. They usually work on a full-time basis for the client. They are responsible for preparing all household meals.

Some private chefs will travel with the client, so they do not have to worry about meal preparation or planning, including on their yacht or private jet, at their summer vacation home, or during an extended stay in a luxury resort suite.

A private chef can be live-in or live-out, depending on the client’s needs. If the client wants their private chef to be available and on-call or available at odd hours, then they normally are a live-in private chef. However, if they live nearby, they could be live-out yet still be required to be on-call. 

Many private chefs work in larger homes with other household staff. They are expected to be able to function in this type of environment and get along in a professional manner with other household staff. Their client may request they prepare meals for household staff as part of their job duties.

A private chef often has interactions with the client and their family. As such, they are expected to keep information confidential and not openly share private information.

What are the tasks of a private chef?

Chef in hotel or restaurant kitchen cooking

The tasks of a private chef can include the following:

  • Creating menus and planning meals.
  • Creating grocery lists for all the ingredients required for the weekly meals.
  • Handling all the grocery shopping or arranging to have the groceries delivered.
  • Preparation of the meals in the client’s kitchen.
  • Stocking the kitchen with appropriate tools and equipment to prepare the meals.
  • Leaving detailed instructions on how to reheat pre-prepared meals during their days off.
  • Cleaning up the kitchen after preparing meals.
  • Managing the maintenance and upkeep of kitchen appliances and equipment.
  • Hiring assistants for private parties and other formal events.
  • Overseeing menus and meal preparation for private parties and formal events.
  • Stocking the wine cellar and pairing wines for specific meals.

The tasks of a private chef can vary based on the specific needs of their employer. For example, a private chef may provide cooking demonstrations and classes for family members and their guests.

What experience should a private chef have?

Similar to a personal chef, a private chef should have a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts or have completed culinary school. Most private chefs have worked in fine dining restaurants, upscale commercial kitchens, and other culinary establishments to further develop their skills, knowledge, and techniques.

Most clients desire a private chef to have at least five years of work experience in a professional kitchen or as a personal chef.

Another similarity between personal vs. private chefs is that private chefs can also obtain the same certifications. These certifications are highly desired by potential employers. As such, a private chef should obtain them after they have worked for two years exclusively as a private chef.

Personal Chef vs. Private Chef: The Key Differences

Personal Chef:

  • Prepares Most Meals in Advance
  • Has Multiple Clients
  • Sets Their Own Hours
  • Self-Employed
  • Manages Their Own Business

Private Chef:

  • Works for a Single Client
  • Often Live-In
  • Prepares Fresh Meals
  • Can Be On-Call
  • Can Work Odd Hours
  • Travel Can Be Required

How to Hire a Personal Chef or a Private Chef

There are several options available to hire a personal chef or private chef for your household. You could ask your friends for a referral if you are looking for a personal chef. You could place an ad, review job applications, conduct interviews, and hire directly.

An easier solution is to use professional household staffing service, Staffing at Tiffanie’s. We provide you access to personal and private chefs based on your lifestyle, your culinary preferences, and your needs. We provide you with resumes, cover letters, references, background checks, and other aspects of the hiring process.

All you need to do is determine which candidates you want to interview and, from there, which one you want to hire. For further information and help finding the best personal chef or private chef for your household, please feel free to contact us at 866-484-5550 today!