A Common Question.
Let’s start with the common question: what is the difference between Personal Chef and Private Chef? Here is what Wikipedia has to say: ”Note that a Personal Chef is distinct from a private Chef, which refers to a Chef who is employed exclusively by one client, and in some cases lives in the client’s home.” But in today’s realities when Private Chefs are also looking to work individual events, the line between two terms is almost gone, so if you accidentally called your Chef Private Chef instead of Personal Chef don’t be harsh on yourself, you made no mistake.
So you are sitting in your living room or at work and thinking that you haven’t seen your friends/family or maybe both in a while. You want to see them, share some great food and maybe have a glass of wine or two while you are catching up and there is no desire to go out to a restaurant, wait for your reservation (which let’s face it, is not always ready by the time you arrive). Here you have your aha moment: why not to order a Personal Chef! We can all gather at a “safe place” where we can create whatever ambiance we want and enjoy this beautiful moment for as long as we like. But wait, I have no idea how much a Personal Chef costs or where to find the right one for this event.
The Cost of Having a Personal Chef
Pricing for Personal Chefs vary dramatically depending on where you live and what your desires are, but let’s look at Los Angeles as an example: For a dinner party with your friends/family (say for example, 6 people with 3 meal courses) most Personal Chefs will charge a per-person rate which typically starts at $40 per plate or $720 (3 courses x $40 per plate x 6 people) for our example. Often they show you the pricing and call it “per person” but in reality it is per person/per plate – so we will just call it “per plate”. A more romantic dinner for 2, prices start at $80 per plate.
Occasionally, you can find a Personal Chef that will work for an hourly rate which is clearly more fair as the Chef’s time doesn’t go up substantially for each guest (this is how we work at NAKS). The average hourly salary for a Personal Chef in LA is $27/hr. according to salary.com but Chefs that work for hourly wages typically work for an agency. These companies also add their own margins and fees so expect the price to start at $40/hr. These prices are of course without tax (yes, CA charges sales tax on Personal Chefs) and will typically have a minimum charge.
And honestly, there is no way to know if the priciest Personal Chef would bring you a better experience than the cheaper one. Even if their cooking is superior you also need to consider that the cooking is only 50% of what makes a great experience. The other 50% is the social aspect. It is all about your personal chef’s personality; the way they look, speak, communicate with you and your guests, present the dishes… and the list goes on, so choose wisely. Don’t get me wrong, great and delicious food that was just cooked in front of you will bring you a ton of joy but the top “tier” experience is when you connect with the one who cooked the food. As they say: ”people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Where to Find a Personal Chef?
Ok, so where do I find a Chef with great cooking skills, an engaging personality, with the right certifications / background checks at a reasonable price? There are 3 main options to choose from:
1) On-line and off-line search for a Personal Chef In your area.
It can be a Chef that your friend used or one you find on any search engine (google, bing, yahoo, etc) to find a local Personal Chef near you. You will stumble upon either their website or Instagram and from there it is just a matter of contacting the Chef. The next step will be typically getting on a call or using text/email where the Chef will share some of their previous menus or his/her ideas. Make sure to double-check the Chefs skills in the cuisine you are looking for, as you don’t want a Chef that has no idea how to cook your favorite Crab-Stuffed Lobster Tail.
On average this option takes from 3-5 days to schedule once you have found a Chef because first you need to find the Chef (which might be quite a challenge if you are doing it for the first time), get in touch with the Chef, find a date and time when the Chef is available that works for you and your guests and of course, create the menu, get a written estimate and sign the contract.
Pricing is fully negotiable and starts around $40/per plate or $720 total (3 courses x $40 per plate x 6 people) for our sample dinner party. Always ask the Chef if the cost includes all groceries and shopping. This type of Personal Chef typically requires payment in cash or or direct online payment (Zelle, Venmo or Square payments).
You most likely will be able to check his/her references and you absolutely should. If a self-employed, private Chef is not willing to provide you with the references, just run away as this is a huge red flag! Value your safety and never hesitate to ask for additional information from a stranger.
If the Chef is coming from a trusted source you can be a little more relaxed about their cooking skills, but you may still want to get other opinions as we all have different tastes and preferences. What your friend likes may not necessarily be what you will like.
Always check liability insurance. Just like other professionals who come and work in your home, you want to be sure that in the unfortunate and rare event that your Personal Chef is injured or their actions cause injury to you, your family or your property, that your Chef has the appropriate insurance.
2) Use online marketplaces (Yelp, Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, etc.)
Marketplaces are the next level of customer experience and are designed to provide you with relatively large Personal Chef options to choose from. Also pricing is typically less as the chefs know you are comparing them against their peers. They can save you time because you don’t need to find Personal Chefs manually as described in the first option, but you still have to do a lot of “manual” work: checking the Chefs’ background, reading reviews, getting detailed pricing (which varies from Chef to Chef) and communicating with them. Typically, we recommend you start a conversation with at least 2-4 Chefs to get a better understanding of skills, cuisines, personalities and pricing.
Typically, it takes 1-4 days to schedule an event. The service will provide you with working Chefs near you but you still need to pick the right one, get in touch with them, check availability, create the menu and agree on terms.
Pricing varies from $30/per plate or $540 total (3 courses x $30 per plate x 6 people) for our example dinner party . Always ask the Chef if the cost includes all groceries and shopping. Such marketplaces may offer an integrated proposal and payment system but some leave you and the Chef to handle this on the side through cash or direct online payment (Zelle, Venmo or Square payments).
When you are selecting a potential Personal Chef from all the options a marketplace may provide you, make sure to pay attention to the pictures and the menu descriptions before making a final decision. If the Chef didn’t put any effort in taking good, high-quality pictures of the dishes, or didn’t spend time describing the dish to the point where your mouth is watering, that might be an indication that this Chef most likely isn’t going to put a lot of effort into sourcing the best ingredients to cook your meals and no one wants that! Remember, for the Personal Chef experience to be great, it all starts with the food!
Usually Chefs that are working with these companies are background checked and obliged to have liability insurance but we highly recommend you double-check to be on the safe side.
NAKS is the next evolution in creating a seamless experience for hiring a Personal Chef that is as easy as ordering delivery. The first time you submit the simple Chef reservation request, you will receive a call from an experienced, friendly representative who will review what you are looking for and answer any questions about the process (5 minutes or less). NAKS will assign the right Chef for you and your event using our proprietary matching algorithm, so you don’t need to spend time sorting through Chef profiles and proposals. Your assigned Personal Chef will call you at the time of your choosing to create a 100% customized menu in about 10 minutes. You will then receive an automated proposal with your final menu and pricing, including shopping and food, for approval. The Chef will shop for the freshest local ingredients (nothing is ever prepared in advance) on the way to your home, cook the meal, serve it the way you want (plated, family-style, etc) and clean up. When the Chef is done with their service you will be able to checkout through your phone for easy bill review, payment and tipping.
In under 15 minutes, we can answer your questions and create a custom menu proposal – even faster the next time you book and you can schedule a Chef in as little as 2 hours in advance.
NAKS charges an hourly rate of $25/hr plus the cost of food which is not the “traditional” way of charging for Personal Chef services. This allows us to ensure you get a great price and the Chef is paid a fair wage. So our hypothetical dinner party will average around $250 total (4.5 hours x $25 + $140 in food and shopping) . You can get an instant estimate for yourself, anytime by clicking on our calculator link here.
When you speak with your NAKS Chef, share as much as possible about your vision for the event as well as your and your guests personal preferences and dietary needs. Even if you want different meals for each of the guests, our Chefs are always up to the challenge and they will go above and beyond to bring you the best possible experience!
There are plenty of options for people that want to diversify day-to-day eating with all different budgets, but one thing we can say for sure – Personal Chef services are no longer only for the rich. Most methods of finding a Personal Chef are still time consuming and pricey but the field is evolving and definitely going in the right direction. We are proud that NAKS can provide you with great culinary experience for the price of eating in a restaurant and as simple as ordering delivery.