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04/30/2010

Personal Chef

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  Personal Chef business.

  Business Overview

  The dream of many an American these days is to throw open the door after a long day at the office and be greeted by the homey aroma of dinner in the oven. With more and more two-income families, bread-winning single parents and hardworking young singles, however, supper is more often than not of the TV-dinner variety. But if you like cooking and the warm, fuzzy feeling of nourishing hungry bodies and weary spirits, you can save the day (or more properly, the dinner hour) with a personal chef service.    As a personal chef, you'll meet with clients to ascertain their food likes, dislikes and diet preferences, then plan meals, shop for groceries, and cook a week's worth to a month's worth of suppers to stash in the freezer in your clients' kitchens.
  The advantages to this business are that it's creative, it's gratifying -- there's no one so appreciative as a well-fed soul -- start-up costs are low and you can start part-time if you like.    In addition to cooking and meal-planning skills, you'll need a solid working knowledge of nutrition and a big helping of organizational smarts. It's hard to efficiently dish up dinners when you're always running back to the market for forgotten ingredients or hunting for misplaced recipes. You'll also need to know safe food-handling practices, health regulations and product liability laws.

  The Market

  Your clients can be anybody who doesn't have a live-in staff -- which means just about everybody. Single parents, two-income families, older people who may have difficulty getting around, young professionals who may have trouble not running around -- you can target them all. You can also target people who are hosting parties or special occasion dinners in their homes as an alternative to traditional catering.    Since this business is still fairly new and exciting, publicity is an excellent way to go. Write up a press release and get your story in local publications. Donate two weeks' worth of meals to the lucky winner of a charity auction. Place ads in local papers. Make up a brochure and send it to a mailing list of middle- and upper-income families, retirees and young professionals.

  Needed Equipment

  Since you're using clients' kitchens, you won't need to be concerned with health department regulations about commercial facilities. Although a computer and a printer are not necessities for starters, they do come in handy for keeping track of clients' food preferences, making up menus and printing out frozen-meal labels and reheating instructions. Some clients will have good, workable pots, pans and utensils; others won't. For those nightmare kitchens, you'll want to invest in a travel set of cooking utensils and pots and pans. And some personal chefs provide their clients with disposable microwave/oven-safe containers for reheating meals.
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