Thinking about hiring a chef in the Hamptons this summer?
Below are a few key things to think about before you look for a private chef who can meet all of your cooking needs.
1. Is the Chef Local? Does He or She Have A Place To Stay?
Cooking in the Hamptons is only a seasonal income for many private chefs. There are only a very small handful who call it home year-round. The chefs who return each season are usually employed by the same family every year. The few who live here all year long also have established their own summer clients.
With that said, however, people do move around and slots do open up. I have seen many instances where a client will call me at the last minute because they booked a chef early in the season and then found that the chef didn’t have a place to stay or that the chef had to take a full-time position elsewhere and then cancelled the event.
Sure, many chefs will come out from the city on short notice, but prepare to pay double or triple the amount than the cost of a local chef. A city chef will come out for upwards of $250 per person with a ten-person minimum. You may find a lower fee, but that’s before the add-ons. Imagine paying a chef to come out from the city, plus a Jitney fee and a taxi to and from the supermarket and farm stands all day then finally to your house. Some city chefs think everyone in the Hamptons is a billionaire or pays like a billionaire would. Unfortunately, I have seen many a city chef beg for work and then come up with these super-high prices when I try to throw them a bone!
2. Chef vs. Caterer
A New Jersey chef recently tracked me down here in the Hamptons and wanted to be featured on needachef.com. I asked him what his specialty was. Turned out he was a “Master Chef” and could do parties from 35 people to 300! “Wow! That’s incredible,” I proclaimed, suspecting he might be a caterer. Where was his concession? “Right over the bridge in Secaucus.” He said he could be here in three hours.
The rule of thumb when using a private chef is that all things are cooked in your kitchen. Your meal will be shopped for locally: fresh from the farm, the gourmet store, or the fish monger. Do you really want chicken that was cooked hours ago and then brought out by truck in a holding box before it is placed on your table? Needless to say, that “Master Chef” didn’t make the cut at NeedAChef.
3. “What do feel you comfortable cooking?”
One of the greatest things about cooking privately is working for great clients. In my experience, the homeowners who would ask me this question about my comfort level would allow me to cook a menu that I was comfortable with on my first visit. This ensured that their party would go smoothly. Plus, they could see how I worked and could always ask me to change things for future events.
4. Please specify what type of home kitchen you have.
This is so important for the quality of your end result. An electric GE Profile or Whirlpool flat top stove versus a Viking Professional or Wolf range are two totally different cooking experiences, both of which can greatly challenge your chef when cooking time and proper finishing techniques come into play. For example, a meal cooked in a home without a convection oven could take twice as long and your food might not cook evenly, which means: disappointed guests. Please also be aware that many chefs may charge more for an electric stove when cooking for parties of ten or more people.
Your chef also needs to know your kitchen setup because most of private chefs use their own equipment. They need to know what tools to bring!
5. Are you able to provide ample refrigerator space?
I usually bring a double-wide Igloo fish cooler stuffed with dry ice so I never have any refrigeration problem. However, many chefs will need some space in your fridge so they don’t have to lose the scallops behind your Pinot Grigio and your Skippy peanut butter!
6. Payment & Tipping
Some internet chef referral services ask that all payments be made upfront and sent directly to their company—then they pay the chef. At the same time, these services urge clients NOT to tip the chef.
At NeedAChef, we encourage our clients to use their discretion when considering a gratuity. We believe if you feel your chef did a good job and you would like to express your gratitude through a tip, that you should have the choice to do so.
Also, our chefs are New Yorkers, who know how to take good care of people! Your display of you appreciation might just promote a long relationship between the chef and your family in the Hamptons.
Ready to plan your event? Please take a look at the Chef Profiles to find your chef!
If you have any question or comments feel free to write them below.