I get asked ALL THE TIME “what’s it like being a private chef?”. Seriously, it’s singlehandedly the most frequent question I get about my chosen profession.
That said, curiosity runs rampant, especially in job obsessed Toronto, and I get every question under the sun, because what I do is unique; and being that this industry can be like its namesake, private, most people on the outside have no idea what exactly I do.
how does one become a private chef?
how does one start a private chef business?
how does one hire a private chef and how much does it cost?
what does a private chef do?
why would someone hire a private chef?
And even more personal stuff like…
how much do you make?
do you wear a sexy chef outfit? I sh*t you not, someone asked me this once.
In an effort to shed some light on what I do, and help you get to know me better, introducing the Private Chef Diaries.
Part One: How I Became A Private Chef
My journey to being a private chef was a winding one, as it is for most people who do this job.
I graduated from culinary school in May 2009 and immediately started a catering company with my best friend. A LOT is to be learned for any chef in catering. Understanding cooking for large numbers, managing RIDICULOUS requests, and all the wonders of partnerships- NOT.
Working with a friend was not what I thought it was going to be and after 18 months I left to do my own thing.
Studying nutrition- online- because I really didn’t have a 3rd go round at post secondary in me (music and culinary in-person education was enough). I believed that being both a trained chef and certificate wielding nutritionist was a competitive advantage I could capitalize on; and I was right.
I blogged during my early wellness/nutrition years as I ran a restaurant kitchen for a year; and the opportunities blogging brought my way were amazing- working with brands, getting paid to talk about things that I love- it was A TIME!
I look back sometimes and marvel at my ability to fearlessly ask for what I wanted, I am definitely doing WAY more of this these days.
The natural progression of career led to me teaching cooking classes, privately and all over Edmonton, Alberta (my hometown and where it all began). This endeavour introduced me to SO MANY PEOPLE who wanted to come watch me teach but didn’t really want to cook my food- they wanted to buy the food that I made. And just like that the next evolution of my business was upon me.
I started my brick and mortar business, The Vitality Kitchen, in 2013 and it was a marriage of all my experience in one- healthy catering, healthy cooking classes, 1on1 nutrition+meal planning coaching and television+media presentations. It was a thing. A BIG THING at one time.
BUT all the things I loved about The Vitality Kitchen- cooking, creating recipes, talking about/educating about food- were not the things I was doing. My employees cooked and I did accounting and marketing, while wanting to kill myself- no joke, I had thoughts…
In any case, for my mental AND financial health, I sold everything in the Vitality Kitchen and shuttered the business, 3 years after its inception. Though it was the BEST decision of the past 5 years of my life, it was hard as F*CK and I went through it; but I came out the other side feeling more empowered and sure of myself than ever.
HONESTLY becoming a private chef was a fluke. When I closed the Vitality Kitchen there were loyal- been down since day one- clients that refused to give me up. So I started going into their homes and preparing them food. Pricing and logistics sorted themselves out over the year of private cheffing in Edmonton. And my private chef career was born!
Realizing just how many people wanted to outsource their meals and how many people were ACTUALLY willing to pay for it was EYE OPENING.
Toronto ALWAYS had my heart. And when I closed the Vitality Kitchen I was no longer tethered to the city that Vitality built, and I realized that I didn’t need to stay in Edmonton.
So I, once again, sold all my sh*it (LIQUIDATION SALE), gave up my amazing apartment overlooking the city, moved in with my parents for 2 months, then moved to Toronto.
Moving was a BIG ASS DEAL, because I moved with nothing. Less than a months rent and not one client. Stepping out of faith was scary- scared shitless doesn’t even begin to describe it. But I moved here and hit the ground running…and built my business from NOTHING to BOOKED.
So why did I become a private chef?
Because I love being my own boss, I cook like the dickens and a bloody fluke; because when I was down and, what felt like out, I had cooking!
On the next edition of the Private Chef Diaries I will be sharing a day in the life of a private chef. Not to be missed.