How to Become a Personal Chef

Alex preparing dinner for clients in kitchen
Alex preparing dinner for clients
If you enjoy cooking, but don’t want the responsibility of starting a restaurant or have the time to start a full-fledged catering service – why not become a personal chef?

As a personal chef, you can cook meals for families or busy executives. You can prepare meals in advance for people who don’t want to cook themselves but want home-cooked meals.

Personal chefs are also hired by people who want to have meals made with certain ingredients – such as gluten free, dairy free or a program designed for weight loss.

Some jobs involve cooking in clients’ kitchens at mealtime, or in the case of preparing menus in advance, you may do the cooking in your own kitchen and then make deliveries to clients on a weekly basis.

If you are knowledgeable in gluten-free, vegan or low-carb diets, you add these specialized services to your business. Alternatively, you can focus on a certain niche market exclusively, as they may under-served in your area.

Licensing & Certification:

Similar to caterers, personal chefs (in many states) will need to obtain a general business license and a food handler’s certification (ie. completing a ServSafe course and exam through the National Restaurant Association).

If the chef will be preparing food off site (for example, in his or her kitchen at home), the kitchen or cooking space will need to be inspected by the state’s health department.

Chefs can also get personal chef certification (CPC) from the United States Personal Chef Association after working in the field for at least 2 years.


Candy Wallace is the founder of the American Personal and Private Chef Association (APPCA) has been teaching the business of becoming a personal chef for over 15 years. Along with Greg Forte, Director of the Utah Culinary Institute, she has put together a start-up guide for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own personal chef businesses.

From the legal steps of setting up your business to finding clients and establishing streams of revenue, they walk you through the process of setting up your company. If you want to get the information from the pros without having to enroll in a class, this is a way to do it.

Find out more here

“How to Open a Financially Successful Personal Chef Business” is another good resource. It discusses all aspects of starting your own venture, including important financial tips like establishing a budget and how much to charge customers.

In the book, they point out that the US Department of Labor statistics show that “personal chef services is one of the fastest growing segments in the food service business”. This makes a lot of sense, seeing that today’s consumers are getting increasing busy and tend to value their time much more.

Chefs typically earn between $100 and $400 per day depending on the jobs you do and the clients you work for. Not bad for doing something you love.

More Resources

The United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA) provides personal chef certification, liability insurance, MenuMagic personal chef software and more. Members can also advertise their services by getting listed on their partner site,

The Professional Personal Chef
Business Start-Up Guide: The Business of Doing Business as a Personal Chef
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