As I discussed in my previous post, becoming a successful personal chef is an achievable goal if you have a love of cooking, some basic business skills (or a willingness to learn them), and a strong desire to build your own business. Once you’ve decided to take the leap – whether as a part-time venture while still remaining employed elsewhere (always a good idea if possible), or going all-in as a full time gig, what’s the first step?
Arrange a practice cook date.
This is a great way to experience what’s really involved in a typical cookdate. Hit up a friend, relative or coworker to let you prepare a few meals for them in their home, just as if they were a client. They should cover the costs of the groceries; you provide everything else. Most people would love to have this service provided to them, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a willing “client.” The person you choose should:
- Be supportive of your efforts
- Have a kitchen available during business hours
- Not have too many dietary restrictions
- Be appreciative of wholesome, healthful meals
This can be anyone from a single friend to a busy family. Do everything for them that you will later do for a “real” client:
- Conduct an interview to determine their dietary preferences (and any allergies)
- Offer menu suggestions based on the interview, and let them select their meals*
- Shop and prepare for the cookdate
- Cook and package their meals on the agreed-upon date
- Print a menu and heating instructions
- Clean up after yourself!
If you do all of this and still love it, then you know this is right for you. (By the way, being exhausted after your practice cookdate does NOT mean you can’t hack it! You will be exhausted after most of your cookdates for a while, until you get into a rhythym. But it’s a good tired, the kind you feel after a good workout or a night of dancing.)
Coming up next time: Figuring out the local rules and regulations for starting a business.
*There are many ways to come up with client menus – provide a set menu from which everyone selects their meals; offer client-specific suggestions and let them choose; set the menu for them based on their preferences, etc. There is no wrong way; do what you and your clients prefer. I’ve done them all and they all work in different situations.