It’s the first question potential clients ask when they call to inquire about hiring a private chef. Depending on who is asking, my answer might come across as very expensive or very affordable.
When matching chefs to clients and their event needs, I ask clients what kind of budget they have in mind. Then I check in with the chef for an estimate of how much he or she would charge for a particular event.
When I ask prospective clients about their budgets, some will suggest only half of what they are prepared to spend, while others really have no idea what the costs are. I suspect that some clients might assume they can pay a trained chef the same amount they pay their housekeeper to cook. Some prospective clients have called expecting to pay $50 or $60 per person, which is just not feasible. A chef often brings along his or her own utensils, shops for ingredients first, and then travels to the client’s home to cook. A client might be able to get cheaper, but cheaper can often foster resentment for both parties.
Sometimes, when a chef is just starting out, he or she will charge a low fee. This is usually too low, in my opinion. So I advise that the fee be set higher to ensure that the chef is being paid his or her worth. In the case of some chefs, however, as demand for private chefs increases at the height of summer in the Hamptons, I have witnessed those who charged a lower fee in June raise their fee in August, to a point beyond what the market will stand. These chefs may have a job this summer but most probably won’t have one next season, as this simple act could burn a lot of bridges.
Below is guide to what clients should be prepared to pay a private chef working in their homes.
Note: This price guide refers to the chef only, and does not include the costs of any butlers, servers, kitchen assistants, etc. A chef is just that, a chef—he or she does not serve the food and does not clean anything outside of the kitchen. In most cases the chef will shop for food but not always.
Here is what you might expect to pay for a private chef on a one-off basis:
- Buffet Chef: For a five-item buffet with one dessert, this type of private chef will charge $85 per person, with a fifteen-person minimum. In this case, the chef comes in, cooks and serves the dinner, and cleans the kitchen.
- One-Event Private Chef: Starting at $125 per person and up for dinner, all-inclusive, depending on the menu, often involving a four-course meal. Many private chefs are asked to come and prepare just one dinner at a time. In these cases, a chef will charge a per person fee, which is just a little less then what a caterer will charge. The chef prepares the meal and plates the food, makes sure everyone is happy, and cleans the kitchen.
- Wine Dinner—Classically Trained Chef: Starting at $250 per person and up. This chef will plate each course and pair every dish with an appropriate wine, explaining the pairings as each course goes out. Chef makes sure that every guest has a lovely time.
Here are the rates for clients who would prefer to have a private chef on a regular basis:
- Day Rates: A day rate applies where the chef cooks two meals per day plus cocktail hour. This rate often involves $500–600 per day for the labor, plus the food costs, and may also involve other accommodations depending upon special circumstances.
- Weekly Rate: A week rate is approximately $2500–$3500 plus food costs for two meals per day in a five- to six-day week.
- Yearly Rate/Annual Salary: Starts $120,000 per year, plus food costs, plus benefits.
Please keep in mind that special situations can increase a private chefs overall fee. In the case of any special dietary needs, such as allergies, special diets, vegetarian, gluten-free, and so on, the price will be higher, and can easily double, due to increased shopping and menu production times. Chefs may also increase their fees when working with difficult kitchen setups, such as those with tight spaces or with electric stoves.
I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have any questions or comments please respond below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish you good luck in your search for your private chef.