Personal chef cost guide

Personal chefs help families and busy people with meal preparation on a weekly basis; they also plan the menu, purchase ingredients, and store the food in client’s fridge. Professional assistance of these experts saves a lot of time and effort and makes people's life significantly easier. Most personal chefs have a culinary training and extensive experience in the food industry.

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Personal chefs (don’t mix up with private chefs) are professional cooks who work with several clients. They provide custom-designed meals for every client in accordance with the client's food preferences and needs. The meal prepared is then packaged and stored. The average personal chef cost is $150-$250 for meals prepared for up to six individuals; for larger parties and a greater variety of meals, the cost can be $235-$395. Apart from that, if a personal chef doesn’t offer grocery shopping as a part of a package, then this service varies between $45 and $150 per trip.

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Cost-related questions

How is the cost of a personal chef calculated?

Personal chef cost depends on a number of factors, among which are experience, personal rates, services included, your location, number of people being served, and the number of meals prepared per week. City rates for personal chefs are higher than those for smaller towns. Prices also rise if multiple courses are needed.

Most often, personal chefs charge a flat rate with a list of services included; however, some chefs may require per person charge, and in this case, the cost is $20-$30.

What is included in personal chef services?

  • Meal preparation
  • Products shopping
  • Weekly delivery
  • Cleaning after cooking
  • Food storing
  • Menu variation

What other costs can be added?

Apart from basic services stated above, there is a number of additional services and costs that one may face.

  • Some personal chefs may charge for the containers that they use to bring over prepared meals.
  • Food delivery is usually charged as extra at $25-$40 rates paid per month.
  • If you don’t have a kitchen, then you will have to pay for the chef’s use of their commercial kitchen. Generally, it costs $25-$50.
  • Grocery shopping is usually added to the total cost of the service, yet some chefs charge extra $45-$150 for every shopping run.

What discounts can I expect?

Discounts are rare in this industry. But some chefs offer initial orders discounts to allow their clients to try out the service and cooking style before finalizing the hiring.

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Kinds of personal chef services (catering options)

Personal chefs most often work for a particular client several days a week and provide weekly food supplies. However, if you’re having a barbecue or a dinner with friends, you can ask your chef to cook something special. In this case, you will have several possible options to choose from.

Buffet style is the simplest for a chef because all food is pre-cooked and then set out on tables for the guests. The latter take the plates and choose the meals they want. This option will cost the least among all dinner possibilities.

A sit-down dinner requires people who will be serving the food which adds extra costs to the price of the meal. Generally, sit-down or plated dinners are more expensive due to the manpower you need to cover.

A food station is similar to the buffet style but varies in the layout. In this case, your chef will cook several types of food and place it on stations around the room for guests to try and choose their favorite.

Hors-d'oeuvres always require a wait staff for serving and are the most expensive type of dinner meal serving. Hors-d'oeuvres require particular food and beverage choice so usually cost the most.

While the meals you order for each of the serving types can be the same, the serving method significantly simplifies or complicates, fastens or slows down the cooking and serving process. The more elaborate food choice and serving type you choose, the higher will be personal chef cost for your event.

Questions to ask a personal chef before hiring

When you plan to hire a personal chef for your home or company, without any doubts, traditional background check and reference request are essential to make the right choice. However, there are particular industry-specific questions that you need to ask a potential personal chef to ensure that you will get the desired service. Here is the list of what you should inquire when interviewing potential candidates.

  • Certifications and health certificates. Ask to see the health department’s most recent report about the food service.
  • Experience and specialization. Most chefs have a particular cuisine as their main specialty. Ensure that you hire a person whose skills match your food preferences.
  • Supplies shopping places. Inquire about the foods that will be used for your meal: whether they are local, whether they are frozen/canned or fresh, whether they are purchased on the day of cooking or pre-ordered.
  • Special diet issues. If you have any food allergies or restrictions, or you might need to have a particular number of calories present in every meal, then ask how a chef will deal with such specificity of your meals.
  • Where the food is prepared and cooked. Most personal chefs cook your food in your kitchen but some use their own commercial kitchen for such needs. If it’s your kitchen, then ensure that you add energy bill to the final cost of the service to manage your budget properly. If a chef uses the commercial kitchen, then inquire about its safety and cleanliness, you may even ask to see it.
  • Food tasting. And at all times ask for food tasting. This is the best business card for any chef. You may like a chef for personality but completely detest their food. It’s always better to get a sample tasting before signing a long-term contract.

Other frequently asked questions

What if I don’t have the right dishes?

Don’t worry if you don’t have all possible pans and plates for your chef. Generally, chefs come to your home with their own dishes because they get used to cooking with their own "equipment." All you need to have is a stove, oven, refrigerator, freezer, and a microwave in some cases.

Will the chef adjust the menu if I have a food allergy (or dietary restrictions)?

Of course. Personal chefs adjust their cooking and offer menu according to your food preferences and particular needs. Some chefs can even offer nutrition correction as an additional service to help you make the menu variable and interesting even without the allergen.

How long does the cooking take?

On average, professional personal chefs spend 4-6 hours in every client’s home. Yet, of course, the timing heavily depends on the number of meals and portions you need.

Do I have to be at home when the chef is cooking?

It’s up to you. Most often you will need to be at home for the first meeting with your personal chef to walk them through your kitchen; at other times you are absolutely not required to be present.

Bottom line

Personal chefs can make your home food comforting and tasty at all times. They will save you time and provide an excellent various menu for every day. The average personal chef cost is $150-$250 with the top-notch services starting at about $395.

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