So you’ve made the decision to start your personal chef business – good for you! You’ve done your practice cook date; you’ve brushed up (or are planning to) on your business skills; and you can’t wait to start earning income doing something you love. Awesome 🙂 Now you need to check out your state and local business regulations, to make sure you follow the rules for setting up a small business. Only slightly less awesome, and it shouldn’t be too time consuming or costly anyway.
Will You Cater or “Chef”? Decide whether you’ll offer only in-home meal preparation services as a personal chef, or also catering functions where you prepare foods offsite for delivery. Catering generally requires the use of a commercial kitchen – a facility that is licensed and inspected by the state – and also additional permits. Cheffing generally only requires a business license from your town or city.
Contact your Town Clerk or City Hall. They can tell you what the procedures are for starting and registering a business. It can be as simple as obtaining a business license, or it may involve additional permits or processes, especially if you plan to offer catering services in additional to personal chef services. Typically a small fee is involved, and you gain permission to operate your business for a specified length of time (renewals are generally required every year or two.)
Check the Home Kitchen Use Policy for your State. In Massachusetts where I live, we aren’t allowed to prepare Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHFs) in a home kitchen – meals must be prepared either in a commercial kitchen or a client’s home. Exceptions are made for non-potentially-hazardous foods, such as jams, jellies, cakes and cookies – I call it the “Bake Sale Exemption.” Every state is different; be sure you know what local regulations apply to you. (If your Town Hall isn’t sure, check with the Health Department. They will likely ask you where the cooking is to be done in order to determine what regulations apply to you.)
Planning to start a personal chef business? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me at christine at taylormademeals dot com.