A personal chef is defined as a culinary professional hired by multiple clients to prepare make-ahead meals in the client’s home kitchens, based on their needs and food preferences. It’s a relatively new type of service that’s gaining in popularity across the US, and provides a lot of value to clients with busy schedules, specific diets, and an appetite for great-tasting meals.
A personal chef is not to be confused with a private chef, which is typically hired by one client to prepare meals daily and is typically reserved for the professional athletes, celebrities, and CEOs of the world. A private chef can cost upwards of $60,000/year, not including the cost of groceries. Different than a private chef, a personal chef service tends to be more affordable for the average person. But this still begs the all-important question when researching personal chef services in your area, “WHAT DOES IT COST?”
What You Get For Your Money With A Personal Chef
Before diving into the cost of a personal chef, it’s important to understand what you’re typically getting for your money when you hire a personal chef service to handle make-ahead meal preparation.
- First, your personal chef will plan a customized menu for you based on your suggestions, dietary concerns, and unique food preferences. Many personal chefs will involve you in the process of creating a menu, so it’s very collaborative.
- Second, your chef will procure the freshest ingredients possible for the service at a local grocery store, farmer’s market, or other food vendors. Many times, you can even have your chef pick up some additional items at the store that you need, like milk or eggs.
- Once they finish shopping, your personal chef will bring the ingredients to your home and begin the meal preparation process. Some personal chefs will bring their own equipment (pots, pans, utensils, etc.), while others choose to use the clients. The cooking process takes anywhere from 2 – 5 hours in the home and the time spent in the home depends on the type of meals selected, number of meals being prepared, and unique style of the chef. If the client is home during the service, it’s not uncommon to pull up a chair and chat with the chef while they cook. It’s something most clients look forward to each service day!
- Once the cooking process is complete, the chef will package the meals in plastic or glass containers, label, and store them in the fridge or freezer.
- Then comes one of the most important steps: cleaning the kitchen! Most personal chefs take great pride in their workspace, and will diligently clean your kitchen - often leaving it even cleaner than they found it.
- Finally, if you’re a regular client, the chef will sit down and begin discussing a menu for the next service. Some personal chefs will plan the next menu in entirety at the end of the visit, while others may choose to communicate with their clients via phone or email.
Most clients will have their personal chef come to their home weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
What Does A Personal Chef Cost?
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of variabilities when it comes to the rates charged by a personal chef. Some charge an hourly rate, others charge a fixed rate that includes grocery, but the most common pricing structure you’ll see is a fixed rate for the service (depending on the number of meals selected) plus the cost of groceries. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at the fixed service plus grocery-pricing model.
To start, let’s examine the service fee, which does not include the food cost. We’re also going to look at the average price for 12 servings of meals, which represents an average number of servings/meals prepared during a personal chef visit. You can usually have your personal chef prepare additional servings of each meal, which would increase the service charge slightly, but of course lowers the cost per meal.
Based on our research of dozens of personal chef services throughout the US, the service cost to have a personal chef prepare 12 servings of meals (typically 4 or 6 different entrees) ranges from $100-$400. The median is around $200, with prices being a bit higher in large metro areas – LA, New York, Chicago, Miami, etc. Chefs charging in the $300-$400 range are typically in large urban areas, are highly acclaimed, and have years of experience in high-end restaurants.
Typically the lower cost personal chef services in the $100-$150 price range are part of a larger franchise network or have a team of chefs working for one business so they can benefit from economies of scale. Our company, Chefs For Seniors, is one example but there are a few other similar services such as Dinner Elf in Austin, TX. Sole proprietor personal chefs tend to charge those higher prices, but often struggle to attract clients and keep them long-term. Clients may think of higher-end personal chefs as more of a luxury service, rather than filling a need on a weekly basis. Personal chef services in the lower price range tend to have larger client bases (some may even have 100’s of clients), and it’s sustainable for the client’s budget to keep their personal chef around for a long time.
When it comes to grocery costs for ~12 servings of meals, a lot of that is up to you. Most personal chefs will discuss a grocery budget with you to get an idea of what you're willing to spend and for the average client, you can expect anywhere from $45-$90 in food cost per service. If you want organic, kosher, or high-end ingredients you can expect to pay more.
Overall, when you think about the time you save and the amazing meals you get when you hire a personal chef service, it can be a reasonably priced solution for a lot of people. To find a personal chef in your area, visit the United States Personal Chef Association website: https://www.uspca.com/. They provide certification and training guides for personal chefs across the US. Or visit chefsforseniors.com to see if we offer services in your area!