Money Talks: What you can expect to be paid daily as a private chef

Money Talks: What you can expect to be paid daily as a private chef

Being a professional chef is a dream job for so many people, but no one is an overnight success. Great gigs and big money comes after years of honing your skills and grafting to build up confidence, contacts and culinary repertoire. Sounds like hard work? It is. Very. But nothing worth having ever came easy. Here are our GUIDELINES as to what you can expect to be paid, by the day, throughout your career as a freelance private chef.

How to be a better private chef

How to be a better private chef

You can boil, bake and fry your way around a kitchen standing on your head, blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back. Your menus are inventive and fresh, and there are no tough joints, soggy bottoms or burnt buns on your watch. In short you are cooking on gas (or Aga, if need be). But there’s more to be being a private chef than just being a culinary whizz kid. Here, we tell you how to improve on excellent…

Happy clients, happy cooks, happy us!

Happy clients, happy cooks, happy us!

From Shoreditch to Thailand to Norway, creating recipe videos, cooking for adults, children and even a dog...Over the past few months we have placed cooks into some brilliant jobs and, unsurprisingly, given the skill of the chefs on our books and the exciting opportunities we offer, there are some very happy candidates and equally happy clients!

Private Cooks and Chefs...a few reminders from Sugarella Cooks...

Imagine booking an expensive hotel with no pictures of the rooms, recommendations or trip advisor scores....

Imagine visiting a restaurant where you are expected to spend a lot of money which has no reviews, no menus in advance for you to see, and no one has ever heard of it...

Imagine buying an item of clothing off the peg online without knowing what it looks or feels like....

So - you want to cook in a private home. That is great, and we look forward to working with you. There are just a few things we would like to remind you:- 

  • We have numerous cooks on our books. And they all think they are as good as you. We are a young company and, for now, have less clients than cooks, so it helps to be nice to us, to stay in touch with us, and to let us know your whereabouts. That way it is likely you will be our first call when the next amazing job comes in.
  • You should be able to provide us with at least two recent references from your most recent employers. These should be private client employers, regardless of how famous/busy they might be, we work with numerous chefs and clients and can always get references from someone, whether that be the clients PA, or the client themselves, it is possible. Unfortunately without references, we cannot use you. How will we know who you are and how you work in a private home?
  • We advise all our chefs to have a DBS certificate. You are working in a private home, around young children, and invading someones private space. We want to know you are who you say you are, as much as the client does. Apply for one here.
  • Photographs of your food. This is really important. If you are a chef in this day and age, we advise you have your own website with lots of photographs of your food. Or at the very least, an instagram page which shows pictures of your food ONLY. We don't want to see what you get up to on your days off - create a private personal page for this. You may even find you get jobs from clients direct through your own instagram page or website.
  • Up to date CVs and references. When you finish a job, ask your client if they are happy to write a reference for you and if they are happy for you to pass their details to future employers. Update your CV, send it to us and let us know the amazing things you have been doing.
  • Reply to our e mails and phone calls. As much as you like to get a response from us, we like to get a response from you. If we contact you in regards to something, even if it is not for you, please just acknowledge us and let us know where you are in the world. If you are no longer needing work, we then no longer need to bother you.
  • Once a job is confirmed, contact the client at your earliest convenience to arrange menus, logistics and travel arrangements.
  • Flexibility. Being a private cook is not easy. We never said it was, and we know how hard it is ourselves, having been there and done it, and still doing it! Please expect the long hours and days, and understand that some jobs will be harder than others....
  • If you can do all of the above, get your chef whites ironed, your knives sharpened and....enjoy the experience.

To work for Sugarella Cooks or to book a cook, please contact us.

Time for Tea! Banana & Blueberry Cake - the recipe

Use up those old bananas in a delicious cake. I added blueberries to mine, but you could add any other old soft fruit, such as plums, peaches or raspberries rather than throwing them out! If you make this for your guests when on a job, they will be thrilled because you will be using old fruit instead of throwing it out and they have something yummy to tuck into!

Blueberry & Banana All in One Cake

  • 3 over ripe bananas
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g self raising flour (or plain flour and add an extra 2 tsp of baking powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 110ml olive oil
  • 50g blueberies, plus a few extra (about 6 to dot on the top before baking)
  • Optional: 50g dark chocolate chunks
  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celcius
  2. Line an 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment
  3. Peel then mash the bananas in a bowl
  4. Place ALL ingredients into your food processor (I use a Kenwood K Mix for this)
  5. Whizz on a high speed until all ingredients are combined
  6. If using chocolate chunks, add these in now and mix in with a spatula
  7. Add the mixture to your cake tin and dot with extra blueberries on top (if using)
  8. Bake for approx 30-40 mins until nicely golden on top and a skewer comes out clean
  9. Decorate with melted white chocolate or sprinkled icing sugar (entirely optional)
  10. Enjoy with a cup of tea!

10 reasons to book a cook through Sugarella Cooks...

  1. We meet all our cooks before using them, have a good chat and really try to get to know them
  2. We fully reference check our cooks and do not use anyone that cannot provide two references from their most recent employers
  3. We offer a very personal and bespoke service, we listen to your needs and help match the right person to your job. Ella has done private cooking jobs herself for many years so has a clear understanding of what is required and what the jobs entail.
  4. It is important that the cooks are as happy as the clients. Therefore, we do not suggest jobs to cooks that we do not feel are the right fit for them
  5. We can offer advice to clients on salaries and expectations, based on their individual needs and requirements
  6. We offer honesty. If we do not feel we have the right person for the job, we will tell you, rather than sending someone forward that is going to be a disaster.
  7. We have a huge selection of people from newly qualified cooks to very experienced, all looking for a range of work from part time, full time, permanent or freelance
  8. We offer competitive recruitment fees in comparison with similar agencies
  9. We have a very good relationship with all our cooks and chefs, so it is likely they will want to do a good job to ensure we keep them in high regard!
  10. You can safely relax and enjoy your party/holiday/every day life and leave the hard work in the hands of someone you trust - us!

Book a cook today - contact us now.

Why use an agency like us?

"I don't work through agencies"......oh how many times have I heard chefs and cooks tell me this - and believe me, I do understand. You have had bad experiences in the past with larger companies that perhaps have too many jobs and not enough time. Perhaps they have never worked as a chef so don't understand the things us cooks and chefs just 'get'.

I started my agency due to the frustrations I found with other agencies. Whilst I am by nowhere near perfect, I do try to cover the gaps to make my business a success, to keep my staff on my side, as we have to remember - good staff are the people that keep your business going.

I am not saying I reply to every single application within nano seconds, but I do make a conscious effort to respond to each and every applicant, even if I do not believe they would be right for the type of roles I have. 

The next time you complain about an agency, perhaps stop and think. Whilst the one dream job you have seen advertised may not have worked for you, there may be another just around the corner. So don't burn your bridges with them - hold your breath and move on, you just never know what the future holds!

Why Cooks should work through Sugarella Cooks

  1. Do one job for us and get good feedback, it is likely you will then be on speed dial from then forward, bringing lots more business your way
  2. I have worked as a chef myself and understand the hard work involved. I never undersell cooks and price the jobs fairly.
  3. If there is an emergency and you find yourself unable to do the job - you just give me a call and I sort a replacement. If you are on your own - what do you do? You have let the client down, and it is likely they will not use you again.
  4. I have extensive insurance covering for damages in the home or accidents on the job (more information can be asked once you are registered)
  5. We have a regular pool of lovely clients, so it is likely you will get some nice jobs in wonderful places
  6. We are an ear at the end of the phone. If you are lonely on a job, worried about a client, I am here to talk. I understand all the anxieties cooks and chefs can go through!
  7. If you do one job for one of my clients and they ask you back, if you inform me, I offer an incentive where you are entitled to 10% of my fee. Why bother telling me your returning? Look back at point 3.
  8. I offer a personal and bespoke service, and am here to be the cooks friend, not the enemy.
  9. I have a number of contacts with chefs who may need a helping hand. If I know you are good, I will often recommend you to a chef in need.
  10. If I ask you about a job and it is not for you, I will not hold it against you and will call you again! Likewise, if I do not feel a job I have will be the right fit for you I will not ask you to do it.

Thank you and Happy Christmas!

I have just received the most delightful e mail from a client which has made my Christmas. I have to share it with you:

Rather belatedly (well it is Christmas!), I just wanted to say a big thank you to you for organising Charlton to come and work his magic at our early Christmas lunch. It was absolutely delicious - everyone was most complimentary. Charlton was a joy to work with and really good fun - it was all so easy and everything was cleared up. So thank you to you and to him!

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all my wonderful chefs & cooks that have really helped me make this first year of business such a success. Looking forward to great things in 2017. Huge luck to all those chefs cooking for my clients over Christmas and New Year, I will be thinking of you all.

Thank you, also, to all my loyal clients that have been brilliant. I am thrilled with the way things are going and don't forget it is not too late if you need a chef for any occasion!

Next year we will be introducing other services that we can help you with, so please do not hesitate to contact me with any staff need whether it is in or out of a kitchen.

With best wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year.




How to prepare a dinner party in one afternoon - hassle free recipes.

I do love cooking, but I do not love standing over a hot stove for hours and being stressed when my guests arrive. Firstly, I am a very busy person and just do not have the time to be doing this and secondly, who does?!

So, yesterday I popped out on my lunch break to buy all the ingredients I needed to cook a 3 course meal for some friends coming over that evening. I started cooking at 3pm and by 6.30pm I had a beautifully laid table and everything ready to go for the oncoming arrival of guests at 7pm (and I had not been in the kitchen non-stop!)

Find my quick recipes and tips below...and good luck!

Slow cooked shoulder of Lamb with a sugar, rosemary and garlic glaze - serves 4 or 5 with left overs


  • 1  x 2kg shoulder of lamb
  • 3 x cloves of garlic - crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 x sprigs of rosemary - finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 x tbsp of dark brown soft sugar
  • 200ml water
  • Extra rosemary and garlic
  • Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Place the lamb into a deep baking dish 

Mix the garlic, rosemary, oil and sugar together in a small dish and mix

Spread over the lamb evenly

Scatter some spare rosemary sprigs and whole cloves of garlic around the bottom of the dish then fill the dish with the water

Cover the dish in foil and put into the oven

After about 30 mins, baste the lamb (use a large spoon and collect the juices to pour over the lamb to keep it moist)

Keep basting every 30 minutes

After 2 hours, remove the foil and sprinkle some salt over the top of the lamb, put back in the oven and keep basting every 30 minutes.

After another 2 hours your lamb should be done. So it will have been in the oven for a total of 4 hours. The lamb can be taken out and left in a warm oven at 100 degrees Celsius covered in foil until you are ready to serve.

Use a fork and sharp knife to flake off your soft should look something like this and taste delicious! Serve with some redcurrant jelly and use the juices from the bottom of the pan as a gravy.

For the vegetable accompaniements I roasted a few baby carrots and parsnips very simply, then when they were done I put into an oven proof dish ready to heat through later. I then steamed some french beans whilst we ate the starter and seasoned them with a little salt and blob of butter. I roasted some skin on new potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and garlic, which again were very easy to re-heat later.

Cooked lamb.JPG

Lemon Posset with a macademia brittle - makes 6 ramekins


  • 600ml double cream
  • Grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Seeds from 1 x pomegranate (optional) - could use raspberries, blueberries or nothing!

Place the cream in a saucepan with the sugar over a medium to high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Once the sugar has dissolved, put the heat up and leave to come to a steady simmer - do not take your eyes off it or it will over boil!

When bubbling, remove from the heat and add in the lemon zest and lemon juice

Pour the mixture into a jug and then pour the contents of the jug into 6 ramekins or the dishes of your choice. Add in the fruit at this stage, if using. Put into the fridge to chill then remove when it comes to pudding time and serve!

Macademia Brittle


  • 200g sugar
  • 100g macademia nuts, roughly chopped

Grease a non stick baking dish lightly with some butter. Put the sugar into a heavy based non stick saucepan. Melt over a medium heat....once dissolved it will go through some stages. Just keep watching it until it turns a caramel brown. Don't be scared, just be watching it and ready to remove it from the heat once it turns a deep brown caramel colour. Add the nuts, then carefully pour onto your baking dish. Set aside to cool and then later on break up into shards to serve with your beautiful lemon posset!

Artichoke Fondue


  • For presentation: 2 x hollowed out wholemeal unsliced loaf, with lid
  •  Large Jar of Mayonnaise, approx. 600g
  • 2-3 heaped TBSP Crème Fraiche
  • 2 x tins of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 x jar of sun blushed tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 500g cheddar, grated
  • 250g grated parmesan
  • 2 x crushed garlic cloves

 Combine the artichoke and tomatoes (if using) with the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, garlic and cheese in a large bowl. You should have a consistency that if you put a dollop on a large wooden spoon it falls off the spoon in about 30 seconds (should not be too runny or stiff).

Fill the bread loaves with the artichoke mixture and cover with the lid of the bread

Wrap loves in tin foil and warm in the oven (approx. 160 degrees celcius) for approx. 45 minutes

Remove from oven, remove foil and sprinkle over chopped basil.

Serve on a large platter with croutons (made from the bread you have taken out of the loaf), breadsticks and vegetable crudites.

 My table!

I have just moved house and we still don't have any blinds/curtains in the kitchen, and are using temporary bits and pieces for the moment until we can find the time to go house shopping. However, I managed to find some bits around the house to make the table look pretty, and the kitchen feel cosy, using candles and fairy lights which added a Christmassy and warming feel and definitely made you want to settle down for the night!





Ella's Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Puff Pie - a recipe for the weekend!

chicken pie

Ella’s Chicken, Mushroom & Spinach Puff Pie

  • Serves 4 (plus left overs for the next day if not too greedy!)
  • Use a heatproof oven dish approx. 20 cm x 15cm x 8cm (deep)

Top Tip

When you place into the oven, place the dish onto a baking sheet BIGGER than your dish so that it catches any drips and avoids a messy, smokey oven the next day.


·         6 x boneless and skinless FREE RANGE, (ideally organic) chicken thights (I like to get these fresh from the local butcher and not from the supermarket – ask them to prepare them for you and remove as much fat as possible)

·         160g smoked bacon lardons (or chop 6 rashers of smoked back bacon into small pieces)

·         200g baby button mushrooms

·         100g baby leaf spinach

·         2 x leeks (washed and finely sliced)

·         500g puff pastry (I suggest buying this than making your own, but the satisfaction of making your own pie with your OWN puff pastry is out of this world, so if you have the time and the patience, do try it)

·         2 tsp chopped thyme

·         2 tsp chopped rosemary

·         1 whole egg

·         Maldon salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning

For the sauce:

·         100g gruyere, grated

·         50ml white wine

·         50ml double cream

·         900ml warm milk

·         300ml warm chicken stock

·         50g butter

·         50g plain flour

·         Salt (I prefer Maldon) and cracked black pepper


Approx cooking time: 45 mins - 1 hour prep and 30-40 mins cooking


1.       Heat a heavy based non stick large frying pan on the hob.

2.       Place the chicken thighs into a clean bowl and season with cracked black pepper

3.       Add a splash of oil and 2tsp of Maldon salt to the saucepan

4.       Carefully place the chicken thighs into the pan – they should sizzle when they touch the pan. Use tongs for this (invest in some if you don’t have any, they will change your life!).

5.       There should be plenty of space in your pan so the thighs should not be touching each other – if they are then do a few at a time.

6.       Heat the chicken on all sides until you have what looks like a crispy golden outer coating

7.       Place the chicken into your heavy based heatproof dish and set aside.

8.      Add the lardons to your frying pan and cook

9.       Once starting to go crispy, add the leeks and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and keep stirring until cooked.

10.   Before removing from the heat, add in the chopped herbs (thyme and rosemary) and mix all together over the heat.

11.    Sprinkle this mix into your dish with the chicken and set aside

12.    Pour over the (uncooked) baby leaf spinach – this will wilt inside when you cook the pie

13.    If you think your pie is looking a bit sparse, bulk up with peas or some more spinach or other green vegetables, but remember you have the sauce to fit in.

14.    Make the sauce:

a.       Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan

b.      Stir in the flour, and keep stirring for 2 minutes

c.       Pour in the warm milk and chicken stock gradually (you must be patient here and add a bit at a time). Each time you pour some into the mixture, you must stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps).

d.      Once you have added all the milk/stock, stir over a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes until thickened and lump free. At this point add your wine, and stir in.

e.       If you do find your sauce has created some lumps, you can cheat and use a blitzer to get rid of them – no one will know!

f.        Remove the sauce from the heat (once thickened) and add the grated cheese and cream at this point

g.       Stir well then pour over the chicken mix



15.    Leave the chicken dish to the side to cool (For at least one hour). If you want to leave this in the fridge overnight without covering it with pastry, it will be absolutely fine.

16.    Once the chicken and sauce mix is cool, you can top with pastry.

17.    Roll the pastry onto a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin.

18.   Carefully place the pastry over the top of the pie, not worrying if you have overhanging edges.

19.    Use a fork to make indentations all around the edge of the pie dish, to stick the pastry to the dish.

20.   Use a sharp knife to cleanly cut away the excess pastry.

21.    Make a hole in the middle of the pie to allow the air to escape when cooking.

22.   Use the excess pastry to make pretty designs on top such as leaves, initials or anything else that takes your fancy!

23.   Completely chill the dish in the fridge for at least one hour to ensure the pastry has a chance to settle.

24.   Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.

25.   Crack and Beat the egg into a small bowl and use a pastry brush to neatly glaze the top of your pie.

26.   Sprinkle over some cracked black pepper and Maldon salt.

27.   Place into the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes until the puff pastry has risen and is golden.

28.   Check, and move the pie around (if, for example one side is cooked more than another, which is very common in older more uneven ovens)

29.   Cook for another 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

30.   Check the pie is cooked by inserting a sharp knife through the middle and if steam escapes and the sauce is bubbling, it is ready.

31.    You can cover the pie with foil and place in a warming oven if you are not serving immediately, but I would not advise doing this for more than 45 minutes as it will start to dry out.

32.   Serve with lovely fresh mint peas and creamy mash potato for a lovely warming family supper.

33.   This pie tastes even better when re heated the next day, so perhaps double the recipe to make two and have left overs!

chicken pie 2