Thursday, September 16, 2010

Becoming a freelance chef does not mean that just knowing how to cook automatically qualifies you to go into someone's home and cook for them. Obtaining the necessary industry (yes, it is an industry!) knowledge through a comprehensive training program puts you way ahead of the game. 

Knowing how to market yourself as well as how to go about everyday business functions like accounting, price-setting, scheduling, menu-planning, customer relations, and more can very well dictate whether or not your freelance chef business succeeds or fails.

Two of the biggest organizations in the business of training and bestowing accredited certifications to personal freelance chefs are the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCS) and the American Personal Chef Association (APCA). Both organizations offer information regarding liability insurance, software to help with scheduling and menu planning, tools and equipment, and local chapters provide coaching, advice, and other support for members. 

Thanks to the advent of these trained personal freelance chefs, many families now have their favorite meals prepared for them up to several weeks in advance, ready to simply heat and devour. For many, this means getting a decent, home-cooked meal instead of relying on fast food or tv dinners. And most personal chefs not only do the cooking, they plan entire meals, do all the necessary grocery shopping, and clean up their mess when through in their client's kitchen. Personal chefs spend, on average, four to six hours twice a month in their customers homes making such dishes as salmon with Parmesan crust, fettuccini Alfredo, crab cakes, and other fine meals. Some suggest and provide wines, as well. 

Pricing averages from $7 to $15 per plate, but with savings found in time saved by not having to shop or do the cooking themselves, people from singles to seniors and professionals with little or no free time, find the service worth much more than the cost.

Training schools for freelance personal chefs provide cooking and business education through seminars, personalized mentoring sessions, classroom instruction, video- and audiocassette teaching, CDs, books, and online testing for a typical price of around $900. Information varies, of course, from school to school, but usually includes such things as checklists for starting out with your business, learning how to price, preparing recipes and planning menus, packaging prepared meals for storage, sanitation and hygiene, and more. Chefs who are already certified as personal chefs and who are already successfully running their own personal freelance chef businesses commonly provide instruction and support as mentors. 

Personal chefs enjoy all the benefits of any other business owner and all the responsibilities. Some freelance chefs cook for as many as 15 families. But to most, all the hard work is worth it. One personal chef summed it up nicely: When you cook for a family for any length of time, you become a part of that family as well.


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