Not every work at home job requires you actually work from home or needs a computer. One such job which is very popular, and doesn’t require any certification is working as a personal chef.
While this can mean working with a single family and cooking for them every night, more often it means working for several people a few times a week, and preparing foods that can be stored in the fridge or freezer and easily reheated as needed.
What Does a Personal Chef Do?
At it’s simplest personal chef will cook for a client and clean up after cooking.
You do not need to be a professional cook, but you do need to know how to cook well and how to follow a recipe. You also have to know how to clean up quickly after cooking, leaving the clients kitchen a mess after you’re done is good way to lose a customer.
Sometimes a client will also have you buy the ingredients, go over the various foods and recipes, and require you to follow certain dietary and nutritional needs. You may also be asked by richer clients to occasionally act as a server when they have dinner guests.
One thing to remember is that you will be doing the cooking at the clients home. If you cook the meal at your home and deliver it, your kitchen will need to be certified by the health inspector or face severe fines. Getting your kitchen up to snuff will cost thousands of dollars due to special equipment, cleaners and various other details.
How to Do the Job
When you first talk to a client, you need to find out what they need. Some people will want you to come in once a week and prepare meals for the rest of the week. Others will want you to come in several times a week and cook up individual meals for that day.
If you will be freezing the foods, you have to work with the client to create freezer friendly dishes, or leave careful instructions on when they are to eat the non-frozen dishes.
In cases where the client wants you to do the grocery shopping, you will have to go over a detailed shopping list with them, finding out which brands they like, how much they’re willing to spend and of course discovering any food allergies they may have. It’s your job to find everything on the list, for the cheapest price, and be sure to save the receipt. To save time, if you have multiple clients to shop for, do all the shopping at the same time. Be sure to pay for each list separately, the cashier may hate you for this, but you’re clients will be happy.
Some clients will want to discuss every dish that you make, and you’ll have to have regular discussions with them to decide what to make. Others will give you a list of foods they like, and let you decide what to make from that list, but be sure to leave them a list of what you prepared ready to hand over.
Cleaning is essential, you are in someone else’s house, you don’t want to leave a mess. Most of the time you will just use the cleaning supplies they have, as well as their kitchen appliances. But if you bring an appliance that requires special cleaning, or need some heavy duty cleaners to clean a pot, be sure to supply it yourself, or change your cooking plans.
You will also want to wear clean and relatively nice clothes. No one wants to see someone cooking in a dirty apron and ripped jeans. Have several aprons well cleaned and pressed, along with tidy, easy to clean clothes. Having nicely groomed hair, clean nails and if your a man a clean shave is also important to keep the proper professional and hygienic image.
Finally, if you are asked to be a server as well as a cook, be sure to be polite, have a spare shirt in case you spill on yourself, and know how to set a table properly.
Other Necessary Skills
To be a personal cook, you’ll need good time management. You want to be in and out as quickly as possible, and if you’re client will be eating after you’re done cooking, being slow is not an option. Also if you cook for several clients and do most of your cooking on one or two days, being slow will cause havoc to your schedule.
Planning and shopping is also important, especially if you bring your own food to the clients home. If you bought meat on sale but somethings don’t go as planned and you pull it out of your fridge a week later and it’s green, you’ve just lost money. If you are buying groceries for your client and you get something at a high price, you’re client won’t be happy to see it for 3 or 4 dollars less somewhere else.
Budgeting is extremely important, not for your client but for you. You need to set your prices to allow you to purchase the ingredients and spend your time cooking and cleaning while still making a profit. But you need to make sure your clients are getting good value for their money if you want to keep them as clients. This isn’t always easy.
Being a personal chef are a fast growing industry as people work harder and have less time to cook. If you can cook and enjoy it, you may want to consider doing it as a part time or even full time job.
Dan Clarke is a career coach, who specializes in helping people who work from home, or want to start working at home, whether they are working online, in their community, or simply telecommuting. To find out more visit his website, Be Happy Working at Home.