Detailed Guide forCooks, Private Household in California
May also be called: Private Chefs; Personal Chefs; and Certified Personal Chefs.
Specialties within this occupation include: Personal Chefs
What Would I Do?
Private Household Cooks are in charge of everything having to do with food in a private household. They are in charge of all meals for a single family and possibly other household staff. As part of their job, they also shop, budget, stock, organize, and clean kitchen and cooking utensils.
In some cases, Private Household Cooks must follow the requirements of special diets. They cook for social events and holiday meals and may be expected to prepare meals ahead of time for their employer’s later use.
Private Household Cooks must be aware of the daily schedules of each family member, as well as all upcoming social occasions and vacation schedules. They also know of the work and whereabouts of other private household workers, such as chauffeurs and nannies. In a fully-staffed home, the Private Household Cook works as part of a team and helps other members out when needed.
Social manners are important to the job, as Private Household Cooks often serve meals to guests in small or large settings. In addition, they must keep conversations they hear around the dinner table or at breakfast confidential.
When a large event is held in the home, Private Household Cooks may not cook but will oversee a caterer and menu planning, as well as manage other activities such as coat check and serving staff. Some live in the home, while others do not.
Personal Chefs are chefs for hire. Personal Chefs cook in private homes -- sometimes four or five homes per week -- leaving behind customized and packaged meals that meet the taste and nutritional profiles of their clients. They interview clients, plan menus, purchase ingredients, prepare the meals, and refrigerate or freeze them. By law, all meals must be prepared in the client’s home or in a licensed and certified commercial kitchen. Some Personal Chefs specialize in preparing menu items for dinner parties, catering events, or even teaching culinary classes. Since they are self-employed, Personal Chefs must continually market their business.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Plan menus according to employers' needs and diet restrictions.||Active Listening|
|Shop for or order food and kitchen supplies and equipment.||Management of Financial Resources|
|Peel, wash, trim, and cook vegetables and meats, and bake breads and pastries.||Manual Dexterity|
|Prepare meals in private homes according to employers' recipes or tastes, handling all meals for the family and possibly for other household staff.||Service Orientation|
|Stock, organize, and clean kitchens and cooking utensils.||Multilimb Coordination|
|Specialize in preparing fancy dishes and/or food for special diets.||Originality|
|Create and explore new cuisines.||Active Learning|
|Direct the operation and organization of kitchens and all food-related activities, including the presentation and serving of food.||Management of Material Resources|
|Plan and prepare food for parties, holiday meals, luncheons, special functions, and other social events.||Time Management|
|Serve meals and snacks to employing families and their guests.||Arm-Hand Steadiness|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Active Listening||Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
|Management of Financial Resources||Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.|
|Manual Dexterity||The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.|
|Service Orientation||Actively looking for ways to help people.|
|Multilimb Coordination||The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.|
|Originality||The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.|
|Active Learning||Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.|
|Management of Material Resources||Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.|
|Time Management||Managing one's own time and the time of others.|
|Arm-Hand Steadiness||The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.|
Private Household Cooks stand throughout their work day in a kitchen environment, which can be warm. They must deal with the pressure of promptly producing meals that meet quality expectations. Some employers may be hard to please, or may change a menu at the last minute, which can be stressful.
This job requires flexibility of work hours. When several houseguests are present or special events occur, Private Household Cooks may work as many as 15 hours a day. At other times, such as when employers are away on vacation, only a few hours per day may be required.
Personal Chefs’ work environments change from customer to customer. Some customers may not have a well-equipped kitchen so Personal Chefs need to carry essential tools from job to job. Private Household Cooks and Personal Chefs are not represented by unions.
Will This Job Fit Me?
This job would appeal to those who prefer to work independently, are flexible, have a keen sense of taste and smell, are creative with recipes, and who can work efficiently to turn out meals rapidly. People who enjoy serving others might like this type of work.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
Some Private Household Cooks receive bonuses for completing special occasion events, working after-hours, and travel expenses. Earnings of Personal Chefs are unknown as this specialty is not surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their earnings will be determined by what people are willing to pay them for the convenience of their service.
Private Household Cooks often reside on the property where they work since they are cooking three meals a day. Room and board benefits enhance their wages. Other benefits, such as medical and dental, depend on what the employer is willing to provide.
Personal Chefs are self-employed, as are Private Cooks who work on a contract basis. They need to factor the personal expenses needed for health insurance and retirement savings into their fees charged.
What is the Job Outlook?
Estimating the number of Private Household Cooks in California is difficult due to a number of factors. Job prospects for Private Household Cooks will generally be best in high-income neighborhoods or areas.
While relatively few people can afford a full-time, live-in cook, many people with a lifestyle of eating most of their meals in restaurants have found the services of a Personal Chef a healthy and affordable alternative.
No outlook information exists for Personal Chefs as it is an emerging variation of Private Household Cooks. Economic conditions, as well as skills in marketing their services, will determine the opportunities for these workers.
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Education and training, whether formal or on the job, generally starts with basic sanitation and workplace safety subjects, instruction on food handling, preparation, serving, and presentation. Cooking methods and meal planning are either learned on the job from a chef or at a culinary program. Length of training varies for this job. Apprenticeships often last two or three years, while culinary academy programs can be more intensive and last one year or more.
Experience can come from a combination of jobs in the service and restaurant industry, such as cooking in fine restaurants and catering. A California driver license and current, clean DMV record is usually required for shopping needs. Most employers will do a criminal background check on all their household employees.
Early Career Planning
Culinary arts courses will develop skills in food handling and preparation. High school economics and accounting courses can help students understand the financial operation of a business. Foreign languages can expand the customer base, and speech classes can develop skills and confidence for cooking demonstrations.
Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs
The American Culinary Federation sponsors apprenticeship programs around the country and accredits formal training programs. Vocational programs may offer courses in basic food safety and handling procedures, plus general business and computer classes for those who want to be Cooks or Personal Chefs. Many school districts, in cooperation with State departments of education, provide on-the-job training and summer workshops for cafeteria kitchen workers who aspire to become Cooks.
Private Household Cooks and Personal Chefs are encouraged to attend seminars and conferences to keep current on culinary trends, equipment and tools, food presentation styles, and business and marketing skills.
The American Culinary Federation, Inc., in conjunction with the American Personal and Private Chef Association, and the United States Personal Chef Association offer certification programs for Personal Chefs. For other certification programs, check with sources listed at the end of this guide. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
Private Household Cooks work where their name implies: in private households. This includes rectories or homes where religious leaders such as ministers or priests reside.
Finding a Job
Job leads for this occupation often come through word of mouth, although sometimes through advertisements and association postings. Those seeking employment should be ready with a portfolio of proven successes in the form of recipes and events, as well as solid references. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Cooks, Private Household.
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Advancement for Private Household Cooks comes in the form of jobs in wealthier homes where private employers are willing to pay higher wages. This comes with a solid reputation in cooking, organization, and social skills.
Below is a list of occupations related to Cooks, Private Household with links to more information.
|Chefs and Head Cooks||Guide|
|Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.