While my business address is in Carlsbad, I am regularly engaged all over Southern California. I work in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties.
These two terms are usually interchangeable, but I will try to give a definition based on my experience and the experience of those who have mentored me.
A Personal Chef is a person that typically cooks for multiple clients. What makes a chef a "personal" one is that they come into your home and cook what you want as opposed to you having to choose from a menu at a restaurant.
A Private Chef can be one of two things:
They can be a live-in cook, working exclusively for you and your guests and can be "hired out" by you to work for your friends.
A Private Chef can also be under an exclusive written or verbal "contract" with you that states that they will not provide services for anyone else.
No matter which designation your arrangement falls under, both involve you, the client, having a customized experience.
It starts with a conversation!
A good "PC" will arrange to speak with you, at length, to discuss your likes, dislikes, and expectations.
An honest "PC" will advise you if you ask for or expect something that is outside of their area of expertise or capability.
For example: I personally do not "cater" events. By this I mean that buffet lines, large corporate events, and weddings are not services that I offer. No matter how lucrative a job can be, I am always up-front with clients about this.
After establishing these things, you choose a date for your event. Most PCs, (myself included), make it a practice to "interview" your kitchen to become familiarized with the layout of your kitchen and take inventory of any equipment you may have.
The next step is planning the menu! This is the funnest part because it is where ideas are exchanged and you get to know one another better. You may choose to stick to a PCs specialties or challenge them by asking them to create a dish for you. This is the time when a PC takes note of things you really love and things you really don't. If they do a good job, the PC will need this info for when you hire them again!
At this point a deposit is usually taken. Depending on the size of the event, it can be as much as fifty percent. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the agreement and the PC the confidence that you will move ahead with the plans you've spent so much time making.
All that is left to do is cook the food!
The PC arrives at your home on the day of the event and begins working. Most PCs (myself among them) prefer to "close" your kitchen for the day. This means that they will ask that traffic in and out of the kitchen is kept to a minimum. We need complete control of your kitchen in order to stay on schedule and do our best job! Most PCs are happy to make lunch or snacks for you and your family while the kitchen is closed.
After the meal is prepared and served. The PC will, either alone, with their team, or in conjunction with your own house staff, clean the kitchen.
The remainder of the bill is settled either that day or at another time. Some PCs insist on settling immediately but I personally am flexible with this. We've spent so much time together already that there's no need for me to be worried that the settling of the tab will get complicated!
Finally, an ethical PC will, unless specifically encouraged by you, not solicit your guests for business. Once you have settled your bill and they are assured that you were satisfied with their service, it is common to offer you a set of business cards that you may distribute to your friends.
That's all there is to it!
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food. done well.