Private Chefs Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a private chef. Learn about training requirements, salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Private Chef?

Private chefs work for individual clients, families or households, organizing and preparing meals, maintaining the kitchen and supervising staff. Unlike other types of chefs, private chefs may live in their clients' homes and typically prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oftentimes their clients entertain guests and require meal preparations for a large number of people. They must ensure that safety and cleanliness protocols are followed in the kitchen as food is prepared. Private chefs are usually required to clean up the kitchen, equipment and work spaces after meals. The table can explain some of the common skills, training paths and career projections.

Training Required On-the-job training; postsecondary education is optional
Key Skills Time management, sense of taste and smell, attention to detail, creativity
Certification Certification is optional
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for all chefs and head cooks)*
Median Salary (2015) $26,300 (for all private household cooks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Training Path For a Private Chef?

On-the-job training under the guidance of experienced cooks and chefs is the most common way for you to learn the many facets of the cooking profession, but if you aspire to become a private chef, you might be able to advance your career faster with formal training. Certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs in culinary arts are available through independent cooking schools, community colleges and 4-year universities.

Culinary arts programs develop your skills in food preparation, kitchen management and professional communication. Course and lecture topics teach you menu planning, the physical and nutritional characteristics of different foods, seasoning and heating methods and the physiological effects of foods and food preparation techniques on the body. Many programs also include internship opportunities through affiliated kitchens and cooking establishments that provide you with real-world situations in a fast-paced environment.

Where Can I Find Work?

As a private chef, you'll work in the household of a single client. Diplomats and business executives are a few likely employers. The American Personal and Private Chef Association estimates approximately 9,000 private and personal chefs work in the U.S., providing culinary services for 72,000 clients (www.personalchef.com). You could start your career as a personal chef by working for a company or organization that provides cooking and meal preparation services to several families and customers before finding a good fit with a single household.

What Could My Job Duties Be?

Your primary responsibilities include planning and preparing daily meals for your employer in their home, as well as special meals for parties and other domestic functions. To this extent, you'll need to purchase groceries and equipment, organize, manage and clean the kitchen, maintain a budget and supervise any kitchen staff that might assist you. Knowledge of different cooking styles and cultures, such as French, Italian, pan-Asian, vegetarian or macrobiotic, could make your skills more appealing to potential employers, and you'll need to stay mindful of any culinary preferences a client might have or problems with particular food items.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Bakers, food preparation workers and cooks are all related careers that do not require any formal education. Bakers specialize in creating baked goods like breads and pastries. Food preparation workers work in various eating establishments and help prepare an array of foods, usually under the supervision of a chef. Cooks work in kitchens to cook all types of food for consumption by customers.

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