Dining

Chef for Hire

The FAQs of choosing a private chef

Interested in hiring a private chef for your next party? Chances are you have at least a couple of questions. This handy guide will get you started and help you navigate the hiring process, with tips on how to find a private chef, what you'll need in your kitchen and everything in between.

What is a private chef?
Depending on your needs, a private chef can be someone who cooks for you and your family in a full-time capacity (often called a "personal chef;" this can range from daily dinner drop-offs to live-in staff who prepare every meal and keep the pantry stocked) or someone you hire for only special dinners and events. You'll find some chefs who work exclusively for private clients, some who function more as small-scale caterers and some who are restaurant chefs who pick up extra work on the side by cooking in private homes and at third-party venues.

How do I find a private chef?
Word of mouth is still the best way to find a private chef, though there are more and more companies emerging, such as Kitchit, Eatwith, and The Culinistas, that make it easy to track down a culinary star for your home kitchen. Additionally, you can check with home staffing agencies. Many of the domestic professionals they vet will take on part-time work or one-off events. Or reach out to culinary schools and ask them to recommend a few of their best recent graduates. And, last but not least, don't be shy about approaching the chef of your favorite restaurant—if the price is right, he or she will often be willing to moonlight in your kitchen.

For what occasions should I use a private chef?
Private chefs are best used when they make your life easier, whether that's a home-cooked meal for two, a dinner party for 30 or a week of family dinners at your vacation rental.

How big of a kitchen do I need?
There's no minimum size. Private chefs are professionals and should be able to make even the smallest space work. In case you doubt that, consider the cramped quarters in most restaurant kitchens.

What kind of equipment do I need?
For dinners or special events, most chefs will show up with everything they need for the kitchen. But a bare minimum of kitchen tools can be handy: a pot, saucepan, sheet pan, cutting board and mixing bowls, for instance. To be on the safe side, ask your chef if he or she needs any special kitchen tools when you book to make sure you're stocked. And plan to provide all of the tabletop items and serveware—or include the rental of those items in your event agreement.

Which groceries should I stock in my pantry?
It's a good idea to have olive oil, salt and pepper on hand. But your chef will usually bring everything he or she needs.

Does a private chef provide beverages as well?
Almost anything can be negotiated as part of the menu. If you would like your private chef to provide a cocktail to start the meal or to pair wines with each course, be sure to include those details in your initial conversation. Drinks are an integral part of the dining experience, and your private chef will work with you to create a complete package for your dinner or event. If you prefer to handle beverages on your own, that's fine, too.

How much will it cost?
Prices vary greatly depending on the number of guests, complexity of the meal and whether or not you will provide the serving platters, plates, and linens. But on average, expect to spend about $65 to $90 a person. When you're booking a chef, we suggest asking for the estimate broken out into the chef's fee, groceries and any extra costs, such as plate rentals.

What are the benefits of hiring a private chef?
Food is key to a successful event, and private chefs cater to your tastes. It's restaurant-quality food made with the best possible ingredients in the comfort of your own home. And if you use the same chef over and over, the chef will take note of what you love and come up with new dishes that would appeal to you.

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