A day in the life of a private chef

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Top view at chef who starts to prepare a meal for dinner with many ingredients around her on the bench

Having a private chef job is a dream role for many – you can create extravagant menus for glamourous parties and cook exciting bespoke meals for the rich and famous. We chatted to one of our fantastic candidates, Jessⁱ, about what it’s like to be a freelance or temporary private chef. From preparing a fish n’ chips lunch for the chopper, to navigating her way around an ancient cooker, she never knows what‘s in store for the day.

8am: I start my day by taking my son to school. Wherever possible, I like us to spend time together in the morning and have a nice breakfast before I go off to work. I’m working for a famous artist today (who is one of my regular clients) and I’m cooking lunch for him and his family. Prep for the day would have started many weeks ago as I need time to write a menu and a shopping list and send that off to the office manager, who will pass it up the chain to the client.

8.30am: I head to the market to pick up the meat, fruit and veg from the local farm shop. It’s really important for me to use local suppliers for these elements of the dish, and I know the housekeeper would have already done the main shop for the meal.

10am: I arrive at the house to find the lovely housekeeper has put out all my ingredients, set up my board and arranged an apron and tea towels. She prepares a coffee for me and we have a good ol’ catch up while I write out a plan of action, so I don’t forget anything through the process.

10.30am: I start prepping and, because I’m catering for multiple dietary requirements with a limited amount of time, I need to take extra care to plan every element of the dishes so nothing will be under or overcooked. Today I’ve planned a pea soup entrée; a pan-fried sea bass and vegan aubergine and chickpea stew main; and brownies with ice cream for dessert.

12pm: I’ve been cooking everything to perfect timing, but disaster strikes – the clients are late. This is a typical problem I face in the kitchen all the time, but it’s a crisis when it happens just as everything is about to be ready. I pause cooking and wait for a call from the client that they’ve left their location.

2pm: I’ve only just gotten the call from the client to tell me that they’re a few minutes away and absolutely starving, so they’ll need the food on the table when they arrive. It’s a little frustrating because after waiting around for a few hours I now have to rush like crazy to get it all hot and ready to go. To work as a private chef, you need to be able to think on your feet, exemplified as my meticulously planned three-course lunch is transformed into one course with pudding to go.

3pm: After the client has eaten, I pack everything down and help clear up. I always help with washing up at this house because the housekeeper always does everything she can to help me with my job. The leftovers are gratefully received by the studio assistants, and we have an unofficial debrief on the day’s events.

4pm: I finish in time to pick up my son from childcare and head home to make our own supper (which is usually quite boring when I’ve cooked a big fancy lunch!).

6pm: I use my downtime to swim or run outside after a busy day. Being out in nature in the fresh air is the perfect antidote to the day’s stresses.

7.30pm: I usually like to treat myself to a long hot bath and head to bed early so I can prep for the next day! The most exciting thing about being freelance is that you never know what you’re going to walk in to – there could be very few utensils, lots of dogs and guests in the kitchen, or double the amount of guests than planned, so it’s best to be prepared!

If you’re looking for a private household job or would like to enquire about employing a private chef, contact Tiger Private at our West End Office.

[ⁱ.] All real names have been withheld

Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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