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What is a Freelance Chef?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A freelance chef, or personal chef, does more than just cook in a client's home. He or she usually runs a business and must consider scheduling, planning, shopping, accounting and marketing. Although some people in this position have assistants to help with food preparation and other tasks, but many freelancers work alone. Most cook meals a few times a month in a client's home while stocking the client's freezer with meals to last until the next visit.

Freelance chefs may also work in restaurants such as when the regular chef is on vacation. The may even work for clients on yachts or help prepare food for a catering company. Working in this position is not usually the same as being a caterer. Caterers often just prepare food for many different clients for parties and special occasions, instead of preparing food regularly for a handful of clients.

Building up a client base can be one of the most difficult parts of freelancing as a chef. Many experts in the field recommend that new freelancers save up a year's salary before starting because it may be difficult to earn enough money until a regular client base is formed. A freelance chef must literally be able to satisfy his or her client's tastes right from the beginning because the reputation of a chef is heavily influenced by client references.

Beyond an excellent cooking ability, a freelance chef needs to have a professional attitude and appearance. Budgeting and pricing are also essential skills because the cost of the ingredients as well as any other expense comes out of his or her earnings. He or she must also make meal prices that are affordable for the client, yet also make a suitable profit after the costs for ingredients and other expenses are deducted.

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Discussion Comments
By julies — On Jun 04, 2011

Being a freelance chef is not much different than other many other kinds of business when it comes to being successful. You will find that word of mouth advertising is the best thing there is.

When you find a family or restaurant that really appreciates your services, they will let other know. Of course the best way is to somehow give them a taste of your cooking so they know what to expect. With so many families being on the go all the time, there will be a growing need for freelance chefs.

By LisaLou — On Jun 02, 2011

Becoming a successful freelance chef means much more than being able to prepare tasteful meals. If you don't also know how to run a business, you will struggle to make ends meet. When you are first getting started, you won't have the money to hire any of this done for you, so it would be very helpful if you also took some business courses.

There are many schools that teach you how to become a chef, but a freelance chef also needs to know how to run a business. It also helps to have some marketing background because you will continually need to market your services until you get your clientele built up.

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