Private Chef versus Personal Chef

Editors note: Private Chef versus Personal Chef was originally published in September 2019 and most recently updated in May 2022.

Private chef versus Personal chef – It’s easy to think that the terms ‘private chef’ and ‘personal chef’ are interchangeable and make reference to the same role. But while a private chef and a personal chef have much in common, they are distinct and different jobs.

Private chef versus Personal chef – the key differences

Private and personal chefs share many commonalities, but there are clear differences between the two roles.

A private chef:

– Works for one client.
– Often lives in same residence as client.
– Prepares fresh meals on demand.
– Must be on-call/work odd hours.
– Salaried employee.
– May work in a team environment alongside housekeeper, butler etc.
– May need to travel to different homes, on work trips or holidays.

A personal chef:

– Works for multiple clients.
– Does not live in the same residence.
– Prepares meals in advance – leaves instructions for clients to reheat/freeze.
– Works their own set hours.
– Self-employed.
– Deals with all aspects of running a culinary business.

Private chef versus Personal chef – Private chefs

A private chef is employed on a full-time basis for one client at a private residence/s – be it a home, hotel or yacht. Often they work in large homes which have other professional support staff such as butlers and maids. They are expected to have the requisite skills to function well in this type of team environment.

They are tasked with preparing all fresh meals and snacks for daily consumption by the household and to cook for private functions. Frequently they will accommodate particular food requests that are to their employer’s liking, but don’t necessarily constitute great food choices, so being open to delivering these is part of the job.

Most private chefs live in the residence where they work as they are required to be ‘on-call’. It’s possible they will also travel with their employers on holidays or business trips.

Most are privy to many aspects of their employer’s private life. As such, private chefs need to be able to be discreet and hold confidences.

Private chef tasks include:

• Planning weekly menus in conjunction with employer.
• Shopping for ingredients.
• Organising the kitchen.
• Preparing fresh meals, serving and cleaning up.
• Being on-call for snacks.
• Travelling with clients.

Expected salary

Like a personal chef, the rate of pay for a private chef varies according to the amount of training they have, where in the world they work and experience level. A client’s personal wealth can also factor in the amount they are paid. Annual salaries can range from £30,000 all the way up to £100,000+.


Many private chefs undertake formal training at culinary school and also have extensive experience in professional kitchens such as five-star hotels or fine dining restaurants. Most will have at least five years of work experience behind them before pursuing this type of chef career path.

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Private chef versus Personal chef – Personal chefs

A personal chef is in essence a contractor. They cook for a client base – often multiple families, and get paid per cook day or job. They don’t work in commercial kitchens.

They work in the client’s home or business or venue an event will be hosted at.

Often the foundation of a personal chef’s business is preparing a week’s worth of dinners for a family. The food is left packaged and labelled in the fridge or freezer for them to eat at their convenience. Many will also do catering for their clients, dinner parties, brunches, etc. Cooking weekly for scheduled clients is the backbone of most personal chef ventures.

The other significant strand of working as a personal chef, as opposed to a private one, is that you will need to manage all aspects of your business. This means managing day-to-day bookkeeping, filing taxes, compliance and insurances, to being your own marketer and business developer, alongside delivering great food for your clients.

Personal Chef tasks include:

• Planning meals based on client needs.
• Creating customised meal plans.
• Shopping for requested or required food and ingredients to prepare meals.
• Stocking the client’s pantry with requested foods.
• Labelling food and ingredients in an organised way.
• Cooking customised meal plans/catering requirements.
• Packaging meals for future use.
• Storing prepared items in the client or organisation’s freezer or refrigerator.
• Cleaning up the kitchen where meals were prepared.
• Overseeing kitchen staff that work alongside the personal chef.

Expected salary

Personal chefs are not salaried. They get paid per job or cook day. Your income as a personal chef will be determined by how much you WANT to work, and then how much time and effort you dedicate to getting and keeping clients. Average annual salaries can range from £40,000 all the way up to £100,000+


There is no required education to be a personal chef. But many will have a culinary school education, a culinary arts or business degree, and have spent time honing their skills in a commercial kitchen.

Whatever your background if you’re considering working as a personal chef it’s important to remember that you are running a business as well as a kitchen, so make sure you get the training you need in areas that you feel you need it.

Read: Things to Know before Becoming a Personal Chef

Private chef versus Personal chef – And finally…

Being a private or personal chef are two great ways that you can continue your chef career if you choose to move away from working in professional kitchens.

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