Whether you're one of the thousands of students who completed culinary school only to be saddled with a low paying job and a mountain of student loans, or you're a professional who's contemplating a career change and always wanted a career as a chef, you'll be happy to know that there's a promising and relatively new culinary career track that may offer just what you're looking for.
What is this new culinary career?
A personal chef.
Over the next few articles, we're going to provide you with the practical information you'll need to begin this exciting new culinary career as a personal chef.
What is a Personal Chef?
First personal chefs are not the same as private chefs. A private chef is employed by one employer, either a private individual or a company, and he prepares meals for that employer on a daily basis. A personal chef, on the other hand, has many clients, and he prepares several days--and sometimes weeks--of meals at once and then freezes them in individual portions, which the clients can re-heat and eat later. (For a more detailed discussion, view our previous article which educates consumers on the difference between a private and personal chef.)
A relatively young industry, the personal chef career track has been around for 20 years or so, but has only exploded in popularity in the last five.
The Consumer Demand for Personal Chefs
From the consumer standpoint, several factors contribute to the demand for personal chefs.
First, Americans are busier than ever. There are more single family house holds where the parent is also the chief breadwinner and doesn't have time to prepare a healthy meal each night. This crisis is also felt in many two parent households where both parents work outside the home.
Adding to this is the fact that as the Baby Boomer generation ages, there's more demand for meals that cater to (pun intended) restrictive diets such as low sugar, low sodium, or heart healthy diets.
The Industry Demand for a Personal Chef Career Track
Matching the consumer demand is a crisis in the culinary industry. In recent years more and more trade schools and culinary schools are offering culinary arts degree programs. Even the renown Le Cordon Bleu has gotten into the act by partnering with several American culinary schools to offer a Le Cordon Bleu degree in conjunction with the school's culinary arts degree.
In spite of the quality culinary arts education that many of these schools offer, the graduates emerge over-burdened with student loan debts and faced with the reality of working long hours in a kitchen -- even an upscale one -- for low, hourly wages that barely cover living expenses, much less student loan debts.
Furthermore, the work that the graduates find themselves doing is often made up "prep work," which consists largely of menial tasks such as chopping and peeling large quantities of vegetables, peeling potatoes or separating eggs. Some even end up preparing fast food at snack stands -- hardly the culinary careers they dreamed of when they enrolled in chef school.
Personal Chef Career Track
Fortunately, the personal chef career track has helped solve these problems faced by the hard working consumer who doesn't have time to prepare a healthy meal by providing her with options other than fast food or dragging the family out on weeknights to a restaurant. Further, it allows those on restrictive diets to enjoy a variety of tasteful foods that keep them healthy.
For the culinary professionals, personal chef jobs allow them to earn good wages doing the things that they've always dreamed of doing... preparing delicious meals for customers who appreciate them.
Now that you know a little more about the professional chef industry, you can decide if it's something you want to pursue.
In our next article, we'll discuss the various training options available to help you start your new personal chef career. See you then!