Written by Nanette Hebdige

If the culinary world is not your bailiwick and you’re not deeply entrenched in the food arena, there’s a chance that many will think these two roles are one and the same. The positions are vastly dissimilar and particularly for recruiters, the demarcation line between the two has to be clearly defined, so there’s no confusion on the job title for the hire.

Personal Chef  – Culinary guru managing their own business and hiring themselves out to a vast array of clients. They’re their own entrepreneurs and IC (independent contractors) for hire. Each job is a separate billed contract, typically not charged by the hour. Depending on the complexity and scope of the engagement, they may require bringing an assistant or a sous chef. The food items are either billed separately or included in the estimate for the individual event or meal prep.

Private Chef  – Hired exclusively to support the culinary needs of a single family to create daily meal prep or plan events of large scale. They’re an employee of the household, collecting a salary and the chef characteristically travels with the family to other locations. The role is salaried, part of payroll and usually reports to the Estate Manager or Chief of Staff. A private chef may be asked to work directly with an outside catering outfit to assist with event planning for large functions.

Personal Chef

  • Out for hire to different clients

  • You are your own boss creating your own schedule

  • You work in your own city unless the client is paying you to travel

  • You bring in your culinary expertise to plan for a specific event

  • Your direction will be to plan and execute menus revolving around a theme for a special function

  • You bring your own knives, tools and maybe some kitchen equipment

  • Specific spices and condiments will be brought along or purchased

  • You have to pay special attention to specified dietary restrictions, food allergies of family and guests

  • Cost of supplies and food are typically billed separately from services

  • Meal prep may be in your kitchen or may require cooking at the client’s home

  • You may need to bring an assistant depending on the complexity and size of the function and include that in the quote

  • You depend on your own marketing to promote your services

  • Heavy social media presence is very crucial to support your brand

  • You rely on referrals and 5-star reviews

  • You have your own vehicle and are able to claim that as a tax deduction as a company car

  • Billing includes applicable taxes, to file your own 1099 tax forms

Private Chef

  • Role required in a UHNW environment

  • The role is typically sourced through an agency since the position is a full-time hire

  • Cordon Bleu and classically trained qualifications are customarily a requirement for the role

  • It may come with a live-in prerequisite

  • You are employed by one family and are part of the household staff

  • The role usually reports to the EM or COS

  • You are on payroll with eligibility for benefits, bonuses and earn a base salary

  • Your schedule revolves around daily, vibrant meal prep and it can change depending on the requirements, visiting family, guests and special occasions

  • You will need to have a solid knowledge of wine pairing for singular menus

  • Food prep and meals will revolve around the residence location, time of year and seasonality of menus/product

  • You become fully aware of dietary restrictions and food allergies, but will have to pay close attention to guests and visiting family members

  • Taxes are deducted from your salary before your net paycheck

  • Your work is performed in the same kitchen unless you are requested to travel to other residences or locations

  • You have the main kitchen at your disposal and the tools and equipment belong to the principal

  • You’ll be juggling with the many personalities working in the household so you will have to be diplomatic

  • You’ll be the one provisioning and prepping without any help – unless there’s a catered function and you can direct people to assist you

  • You may be asked to prepare food at different times other than meal-times

The role of a private chef is becoming exceedingly popular within the UHNW sector, as these roles have been on an upward trend. Each position will require distinct familiarity with Kosher or Vegan denominations, health and fitness diets or certain ethnic specialties. A private chef carries one of the most important and distinctive roles in a household and it has to be a symbiotic marriage, as every principal’s needs and demands will differ and food presented in a UHNW household has to be far from lackluster and needs to border on iconoclastic.

The onset of Covid19 has had more of these private chef roles emerging and one of the prerequisites, apart from the culinary distinction has made them live-in positions.

The accolades and qualifications for a private chef usually need to be significant. Some of these contenders include executive greats that have previously engaged in some high ranked Michelin star locale and have been lured away by a very attractive salary package.

However the transition from executive to private chef can be challenging, as the tone and atmosphere is vastly opposed to the conditions of a corporate milieu, without sous chefs or assistants to prep, clean and serve. You’re cooking on your own and you are a one-person show.

On the flip side, the role of a personal chef yields the flexibility to select from many clients and set your own pace. Some gigs may be recurrent on a weekly basis and others will involve more of an individualistic flair for a specific catered function.

In closing, become familiar with the vast differences that makes both roles so unique. Each carry equal prestige as they showcase the same devotion to the craft – a vastly passionate love affair for the culinary arts.



Did you know the original criterion for food preparation in the 1900’s up to the 1930’s was set by the wealthy upper classes and it demanded a subtlety in flavor and simplistic perfection, which at times proved a very challenging achievement.

The penchant for not good, but outstanding food in those eras had percolated down to the middle echelons, since the multitude of cooks employed in large estates and manor houses were middle class folk, recommended and retained for the excellence in their craft.

However, some dishes needed to be elevated with sauces and vinaigrettes to mask their bland constitution as most British grub was notoriously flavorless and had to be heightened with a boost from other cultures around the continent.

Wealthy Americans visiting Europe would endeavor to steal or solicit savvy cooks from stately or suburban residences. Acquiring the right chef de cuisine to run a kitchen and staff with distinction, flair and culinary excellence was, well, an indomitable task and the right chef was very hard to find.

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