It is a passion, a career and a vision. The life as a chef involves more than just the creation of food. A well-prepared meal can be so rich in the present that it has its own history and future. Food broadens the realm of our sensory experiences and generates unforgettable memories, but in the beginning of every meal there is a thought. The life of a chef is filled with stress and hard work, but fuelled by a passionate vision. Being a private chef is an alternative approach to successfully create it.
Realising a culinary dream is however an ideal that not every chef manages to fulfil. Working as a chef in a restaurant is hard work and takes a lot of time. Normally chefs spend around 12 hours every day in a restaurant. When working full-time for at least six days a week, one will find it understandably hard to pursue creative dreams outside of the restaurant frame.
What is a private chef?
The notion of private chef can sometimes still have a somewhat old-fashioned connotation. One pictures an image where a chef cooks under slave-like conditions in a hidden kitchen, while the prosperous diners eat in splendour. However, the idea of having a private chef, also known as personal chef, has developed and modernised itself over the past decade. Being a private chef simply means that one cooks for private and corporate events at different locations. But there is more to it than meets eye. One has the option to choose which kind of event, cuisine and menu one wants to specialise in. This increases the flexibility and decreases dependability for both sides involved. The private chef has full control over food, engagement and therefore his creative approach. This also presents many benefits to the customer, as they no longer have to bother with thinking of a creative menu for their guests.
The concept of a private chef is no longer being pushed into a confined space, but is open and inclusive. Private chefs are hired for casual BBQs, surprise birthday parties as well as family dinners. Inviting a personal chef doesn’t necessarily mean catering though. These are two totally different notions. A private chef will not simply deliver food, but prepares an agreed upon menu right there at the event. This gives the chef the possibility to recreate his culinary vision in a restaurant-quality menu.
Chefs are very creative individuals and want to see their culinary visions fulfilled. When working in a restaurant, chefs usually have to commit to the menus that are provided to them. Surely, there are some restaurants that praise themselves with head chefs and their specialised menus. However, not all have a free hand when it comes to creating their food dreams.
The restaurants that chefs are working for often have some kind of focus – whether it is a grill bar, a Mexican or French restaurant. This minimises the chef’s opportunities to explore and experiment with new dishes and cuisines. A private chef on the other had, can use his knowledge, passion and interest to do whatever he would like. He even can recreate his vision within the client’s requests.
In the past, a private chef used to be responsible for anything editable. This included the preparation and planning of the customised menus as well as the cleaning of the kitchen afterwards. Nowadays, when working with a service team, the private chef can focus on the essentials surrounding his food. Furthermore, they get the opportunity to explore and challenge themselves with many different types of kitchens. This can be anywhere from a private home to a yacht. Private chefs are especially popular choices for the renaissance of ‘dining-in’. This trend makes entertaining at home fun again. The roots of this movement rest in an old European tradition, but has received a new modern touch. The involvement of private chefs is a essential part of the success.
What does a private chef actually earn?
In Singapore a typical executive chef earns between SGD 4000-8000 every month, while private chefs earns around SGD 500 on average for larger events. This might not immediately seem like much, but when a private chef works eight events every month, he will already enter the salary range of an executive chef. If a private chef was to work as much as an executive chef, he can earn 200-300% more than his restaurant counterpart while having a much more flexible lifestyle.
Across the US the yearly salary for a private chef averages around $55.000, while the executive chefs earns only up to $50.000. One should also consider that it takes quite a long time until one can climb the hierarchy and become an executive chef. Surely, everyone needs to work hard in order to get somewhere in any business, but it seems that that chefs have a particular hard mountain to climb. Anyone who calls himself a chef usually needs to work extra hard for several years, before reaching that type of salary. This doesn’t mean that just anyone can be a private chef. However, when reaching the level of an executive chef, one might as well consider the private chef option. Besides having financial benefits, a private chef has another advantage. He is set free.
What are the benefits of being a private chef?
When a chef works in a restaurant, he might be still paid per hour or according to an agreed salary. While working on the other hand as a private chef, one has more control over the revenue. To be fair, one might say that a private chef doesn’t have the same security as a restaurant chef usually has. But the same holds for anyone who intends to open a restaurant. Furthermore, those need far more capital investment. Besides basic kitchen equipment, a private chef virtually needs none, as they will be invited to cook in someone else’s kitchen. Once a chef decides to venture along the exciting private career path, he will eventually receive larger rewards.
Platforms, such as Clubvivre, have given chefs the chance to set themselves free and explore culinary dreams. Bringing hosts and chefs together, lets each of them focus on what they should. Hosts enjoy their own party and chefs eventually do what they love. Creating well-composed menus and making them perfect might only be the starting point. Chefs can choose their own way – no matter whether it is writing cookbooks, working on their own restaurant or manifesting their culinary vision in menus.
Being a private chef not only holds financial benefits, but also creative opportunities. Many chefs who decide to try the private adventure, worship the creative aspects higher than anything else. As much as being a chef is a career, it is also about passion and vision.