The average day in the life of a chef involves more than just cooking. Many chefs play an integral role in the inventory, preparation and management of high-end restaurants. Let’s take a walk through a typical day in the life of a chef. Today, I would like to compare the working chef with the self employed personal/private chef. I think the facts might surprise you.
Though chefs do generally get into the business because they are artists at cooking, if cooking is all that they do they won’t be doing it for long. A chef, especially a chef who has an ownership stake in the restaurant, must be a businessman, politician, personnel manager, and much more. Let’s look at a typical day for a chef at a medium size restaurant:
An average working day for a salaried chef is about 10 hours, anything more than this is basically against labour laws. That being said, it is possible to have an agreement in writing for a longer work day or week. A good chef always starts early! This is because most of the important things happen first thing. Examples would be, food deliveries, basic mis en plac and bakery/pastry items being produced first thing in the morning. Some chefs elect to follow a split shift scenario like 9-2pm, and 5-9pm or NBD (nightly business decline). Give or take an hour, this is a basic schedule that likely runs Tuesdays-Saturday, and sometimes Sunday. A lot goes on during these hours, and to try and pin an accurate work plan is next to impossible. However a basic routine would include the following;
Set up the kitchen with cooking utensils and equipment, like knives, pans and kitchen scales
Study each recipe and gather all necessary ingredients
Cook food in a timely manner
Delegate tasks to kitchen staff
Inform wait staff about daily specials
Ensure appealing plate presentation
Supervise Cooks and assist as needed
Slightly modify recipes to meet customers’ needs and requests (e.g. reduce salt, remove dairy)
Monitor food stock and place orders
Check freshness of food and discard out-of-date items
Experiment with recipes and suggest new ingredients
Ensure compliance with all health and safety regulations within the kitchen area.
So, how does the working chefs day compare to the self employed chef? Well considerable.
Whether you're starting your own company or freelancing, self-employment allows you to engage in work that interests you. You have the opportunity to turn your passion, hobby and strengths into a business and make money doing something that you love. Rather than turning over your ideas to an employer who may not have the same vision or passion that you do, you can fully attend to those ideas and bring them to life without any limitations.
You make your own work schedule
You have creative control
You can grow your skill set and knowledge base
You get the potential financial rewards, you determine your income.
You can build meaningful networks
You can enable variety in your routine
SO WHAT DOES A PRIVATE/PERSONAL CHEF DO?
Shopping for groceries
Designing creative meal plans
Providing clients with simple reheating or preparation instructions
Keeping up-to-date on culinary trends and techniques
Marketing company and services
Maintaining good customer relations
Understanding nutritional needs
Maintaining safe food-handling skills
You might have noticed I highlighted a few things above. These items are the most important tasks an entrepeneur chef must complete. Of course the actual cooking is important, but if you have the passion, it should come naturally. The day to day business tasks can seem boring to a creative person, but are fundamentally important.
Obviously the clear difference between the two options, are the general day to day routines, and the maintanance of your business.
I have been asked on a number of occasions, how to get started as a personal/private chef. Just like any business, there are certain steps one must take. If you would like to know more, give me a shout! Here is the link to my online private chef training program; https://www.dtpcs.biz/challenges I've outlined the system I use to get started, and be successful in this emerging industry. If you read my previous blog about Private Chefs; http://www.professionalchefsfoodnetwork.org/2022/03/23/private-chefs-vs-personal-chefs/ you will get a better idea of the difference between the two models, and how my plan combines both.
Cheers! Have a great weekend!