The Personal Chef Industry

Personal Chef Spotlight

Chefs Dennis and Christine

PCs of the Year 2013

APPCA Live Seminars

Personal Chefs revive the lost Art of Healthy Dining at Home.

Personal Chefs revive the lost Art of Healthy Dining at Home.

CONTRAY TO POPULAR BELIEF, healthy eating and convenience are not mutually exclusive. Increasingly, many busy individuals and families are hiring personal chefs to create delicious home-cooked meals using only fresh, natural ingredients. Personal chefs are not the type of live-in gourmet cooks one might employ to create multi course formal meals each night in large dining rooms. Rather they are highly trained professionals who work with us to custom design meal programs that meet our specific tastes and dietary needs. They also accommodate – and in many cases facilitate – our lifestyles. These chefs do all the shopping, then prepare multiple meals on a single cook-date in our kitchens, storing those meals appropriately for our future enjoyment.

Too often, harried, hungry American chooses convenience over nutrition. For these, the time needed to prepare a meal from scratch is a luxury they no longer have. They may not realize, however, that on-the-go goods, while convenient, are often loaded with fillers, stabilizers, nitrates and host of other less-tan-healthy additives.

Person chefs offer a healthier alternative. Other than fine-dining restaurant chefs who prepare entire fresh entrees in the kitchen, or perhaps our grandmothers who cook out of their summer gardens, personal chefs are amongst the last “scratch” cooks working today. Nothing they prepare is coming out of a jar, a can or a box, as it is the case in many franchise operations and fast-casual restaurants these days.

Anyone familiar with the often unpronounceable lists of ingredients that appear on the food packaging understands the appeal of scratch cooking – an appeal that is growing. A recent survey by the American Personal Chef Association (APCA) identified more than 9000 working personal chefs currently working in the United States. APCA projects this number will increase to more than 20,000 in the next five years.

The personal chef industry is relatively new, having gained visibility over the last decade as more and more people discover that in-home food preparation is eminently affordable for the service that is being provided. Typically, meal service provided by a personal chef cost between $15 to $20 per serving, which is comparable, if not favorable, to prices charged by many popular restaurants these days. This combination of price, convenience and quality makes personal chef services amongst the fastest-growing segments of the personal services industry.

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL

The growing popularity of personal chefs is the clear result of demand and supply. The typical client for such services often has special culinary needs: professionals who do not have time to cook; seniors who want to remain independent, healthy and in their own homes as long as possible; individuals with medical conditions who may have specific dietary needs; the list go on and on. The typical chef has formal culinary training and some experience working in hotel and restaurants kitchens. Increasingly, many of these talented individuals come to appreciate the flexibility and satisfaction of cooking for individuals.

Because of the personal nature of the work that these chefs do---t hey know our personal tastes and dietary needs, not to mention the fact that they actually cook in our kitchens---finding the right chef is important. Though this relationship is in some ways intimate, it is a business relationship, and any chef we hire should have municipal business license from the city in which they work. Furthermore, he or she should posses a “safe food handler” certification from the National Restaurant Association, plus carry at least $2 million in liability insurance. The APCA, in concert with the American Culinary Federation, also provides a professional certification that indicates that an individual is well versed in, and will adhere to, the highest standards of the personal chef industry. Finally, we should ask for personal references and, most importantly, for samples of a prospective chef’s handiwork.

The pace of our lives shows no sign of slowing, and the abundance of processed foods will only grow. Yet, as more culinary professionals leave hotels and restaurants to become personal chefs and as culinary schools offer programs specific to the personal chef industry, we can look forward to dinnertime, with healthy meals prepared to our standards in our own homes.


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