Confused about the whole personal chef, private chef, caterer thing? Yep, you’re in good company. Every week I get asked if I cater or do private parties. Funny thing how the personal chef industry is growing, yet it’s so unclear exactly what it is that we do. So, what is the difference between a personal chef, a private chef and a caterer? Here’s how I see it:
A caterer has a team of full or part-time employees working from a certified kitchen. Caterers are hired as needed. You have the option of selecting from a limited menu with set prices per dish or per serving. Ingredients are sourced in bulk from a supplier. Your food is either picked up, dropped off or you may opt for a full-service experience. Some accommodations can usually be made for special dietary restrictions especially if the caterer is small and local.
A private chef may or may not have a team of staff. Private chefs typically work full time for one family or household and earn an annual salary with benefits. A private chef works in kitchens that are fully stocked with everything they need. Think that’s fancy? Sho’nuff’eeeiz! Private chefs offer a wide variety of menu selections which can be designed based on the client’s individual requirements and preferences. Ingredients are sourced carefully through quality purveyors and selected based on freshness. Private chefs can create brand new dishes for clients accommodating a variety of special dietary needs. Private chefs may cook more than a couple of meals a day and are used to special requests.
And then there’s the personal chef…that’s me. Whoot whoot! Raise your hands in the air! A team of one, personal chefs work for many families and households with any number of specific requirements and preferences. I can be in three or more different homes in the same week. Just like a private chef, I source ingredients carefully through quality purveyors for the freshest and best available ingredients, create new dishes for clients with special dietary needs and can accommodate a seemingly endless variety of cuisines and styles. Unlike the private chef, I am paid by the cook date and reimbursed for groceries. I work in my clients' kitchens and bring all the old-standby pots and pans and equipment along. Cuz ya’ juss’ never know! I only do private parties for my clients in their homes because access to a certified kitchen and hiring staff for one night can run costs up too high for traditional catering.
Being a personal chef is as rewarding as it is challenging. There isn’t anything that can replace the feeling of being able to set my clients up for success. Today’s clients are busy doing amazing things and I love being behind the scenes cheering them on and providing a little nourishment and support. My clients understand the many benefits of freshly prepared cuisine tailored to their individual needs. Bulk prepared foods, dining out, carry-out and many meal-kits-by-mail just don’t come close to knowing exactly from where your food comes, when it was prepared and precisely what’s in it.
Both personal and private chefs can put you back in control of what you’re eating. And we all could use a little more of THAT!