The many skills and roles of personal chefs…
In modern cosmopolitan cities, we are spoilt with our choice of restaurants, gastro-pubs and fine dining to suit every pallet, diet and taste. From Japanese dishes cooked by a personal chef at your table to a modern French cuisine in a romantic restaurant, global cuisines are a modern luxury. Professional chefs and widespread access to ingredients helps us explore exciting new boundaries within the food world in the setting of our choice. In London, we are famous for some of the highest calibre of chef and food in the world, with restaurants like Heston Blumenthal Dinner and Gordon Ramsay flagship London restaurant, but we also have amazing personal chefs for in-home dining.
For private homes in London (and around the world), the request to have a personal chef is common and the demand is increasing. With principals leading busy lives, the need to have food prepared to the standard they require for both themselves and their discerning guests is something that is in high demand. But where does one begin in the search for a personal chef? What are the types of personal chefs that exist?
Live in Chef
The first type of personal chef possible to employ is a live in Chef. A live in chef is typically used in large estates, manors and private homes which have ample space and thus can easily accommodate a Chef (and potentially the Chef’s family). These are generally always full time roles as the need to have a live in Chef will mean that the client needs round the clock attention for his menus, dinner parties and events.
The live in Chef will generally manage the entire kitchen and pantry areas, ensuring shopping is regularly done and the inventory is well stocked. He will liaise with the other staff regarding the wine cellars and will be skilled at prepared the right type of wine pairing with the food he is preparing. What the Chef cooks is completely down to the principal and their habits. Some live in chefs may be asked to cook a five course menu every evening whilst others are asked for simple, yet healthy cuisine.
Live out Chef
A live out chef will generally fulfil the same duties as the live in Chef only they will commute daily to and from the principal and their home. Often if a household requires more than one chef, the Head chef may live in and the sous-chef and support staff will be live out and will work on rota scheduled by the House Manager or Butler.
A live out chef is often a preference by a family who does not wish to accommodate the Chef, or requires modest working hours for the Chef to cook. Most live out Chefs will live close to the principal so that regardless of their commute time they are able to give flexibility to the client when required. Live out Chefs might be paid a higher salary bracket (Chef salary breakdown) due to the fact they have their own additional expenses for travel and cost of living.
Full Time Chef
A full time Chef is generally employed by a principal or family that requires 40 hours upwards a week of support in the kitchen. They may be either live in or live out, and they will be expected to plan menus, shop, inventory the kitchen, ensure the kitchen is correctly managed, prepare food for all the meals, and prepare for any additional events, parties, or tasks revolving around the diet and food of the family.
A full time chef salary starts at £28K (for entry level chefs) and can go upwards of £100K depending on the type and style of the Chef. A full time chef is a must have member of staff for any discerning principal or family as it provides the ultimate addition to the household.
Part Time Chef
A part time personal chef is often employed by principals or families who travel frequently or dine out regularly and do not require the support of a full time chef. A part time chef is a wonderful option, as this Chef can arrive, shop, manage the kitchen and prepare food for a number of days, meaning that the principal can prepare or heat up the food that has been made in advance.
Often clients wanting a part time personal Chef will require the chef to come once, twice, or three times a week for a number of hours and this is sufficient to give the principal and their family what they require. Part time personal Chefs are paid an hourly rate, starting from £13net per hour and upwards of £100 per hour depending on the level and skill of the Chef.
The term Michelin Star normally refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide, which awards Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments. The Chefs or Head Chef who work at these establishments will have a direct influence on the restaurants ability to gain (or lose!) a star, and working at a Michelin star restaurant can be considered the highlight of a Chef’s career.
Many Michelin chef, or as they are known in the domestic industry, five star michelin chefs, go on to work either in domestic homes or offer their services on a short term contract basis to high profile and VIP clients around the world. Due to the very highest calibre of these five star Michelin chef qualifications, these Chefs will command an extremely high salary and are suited only to clients who wish to eat this type of cuisine regularly.
Michelin Chefs are usually employed by clients who entertain regularly, hosting private parties and events. Having a Chef of this calibre is the highest status symbol one can possibly achieve in the kitchen staff.
A pastry chef as the name suggests is a Chef who is specialised in pastry. This is considered an art form, and a personal pastry chef comes in high demand amongst the VIP and HNW clients. Many chefs have taken specific training and additional qualifications in this area, and training tends to originate in France where they have excelled in the art of pastry.
VIP and HNW clients might hire a personal pastry chef for specific events, or look to hire a Chef who has additional qualifications on their CV to reflect this specific skill. Clients choosing to hire a personal pastry chef, or a chef who has extensive pastry qualifications will be looking to pay a higher salary in according to their advanced skills.
Often vegetarians can be quite passionate about this subject and will ensure that their home is a meat free zone in accordance with their personal beliefs. A vegetarian Chef will specialize in this type of cuisine and understand and respect the choices that the principal has made by being a vegetarian. For example, making a cheesecake without gelatin will be one way a vegetarian chef looks to cook the correct menus for their employers. Many chefs are able to cook incredible vegetarian food alongside meat dishes, but some principals prefer to hire a vegetarian chef who has experience with vegetarian clients in the past.
A vegan is an individual who follows a vegetarian diet, but also chooses not to eat anything that is made or produced by an animal. For example cheese, eggs, butter and honey are all items that will be avoided in a Vegan diet. Vegan lifestyle generally lends the individual to not wear leather, or buy ‘animal’ products as they tend to be extremely passionate about the subject!
Similar to vegetarians, the Vegan choose to be a Vegan for either ethical or health reasons (or both), and will keep their home a meat-free zone. Typically vegan/vegetarians will have similar diets within the family unit, and will expect their family home to be treated in accord to their belief systems. Again they tend to prefer to hire a Chef who has experience cooking and creating dishes with this diet, as although standard Chefs may be able to cook this type of menu, they will prefer to have someone who has a great experience and specialization within this area.
Ayurveda is an ancient medical practice within India. Followers believe it is the quickest route to health and the menu is designed around the body type of the individual. The approach believes that the right balance of food within the diet is key to a healthy life. A balanced diet is to include the six Ayurvedic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in each meal.
The followers of this diet will often lead a very spiritual and healthy lifestyle and may well combine this with other diets such as Vegan. Principals who choose to eat this diet will often look for a Chef who has previous experience cooking in this way in order to ensure that their diet is followed closely and the best products sourced.
A Gluten-free diet is generally followed for either medical or health reasons. Those who suffer from coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) are required to follow this diet to ensure they are not taken ill, and since the gluten-free diet has gained in popularity, more foods have been developed to support those who follow it.
Gluten can be found in many food and is a mixture of two proteins present in cereal grains – especially wheat – which is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. For many years now, the health followers have felt that gluten can lead to IBS and other digestion/circulation problems, and those who choose to remove gluten from their diets are often rewarded by feeling healthier.
There are many Chefs now who understand that the need to remove gluten can be extremely important (particularly if the principal has a medical condition) and they have looked to develop their food repertoire accordingly. Some principals prefer to hire a chef who has experience cooking this specific type of food, whilst others are happy to hire a chef who is open to cooking in this style.
Hiring a personal chef will allow the principal and family members to be extremely controlled in their diets that they lead at home. Often if a principal has specific health concerns, or they wish to lose weight they are able to use their personal chef to control the calories within the food they eat.
Principals will use their personal chef to shift a few pounds before the bikini season, shift the post-baby weight, or just help to fit into a slim line suit. Whatever the reason behind the calorie-counting chef, you can trust that your food will be strictly controlled and monitored by your professional chef so you can reach your goals.
Whatever type of Chef you are looking to find for your home, hotel, chalet, no matter what diet or lifestyle you wish to follow, always look to get the most experienced person you can for the position. Look closely at their CVs and see their career history. And before you hire anyone, make sure you trial them! The true test is in the cooking itself. If you need any other advice or just want to have a chat with us about the best way to find a personal chef, you are welcome to drop us a line anytime.