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.
(Please note this is a guide only, and some jobs will vary in salary due to strict client budgets. Sometimes it is worth taking on a job that pays less than usual because of the experience it will give you)
Newly trained cook: £80-£100 per day
You might have done a four-week basic cooking course or been around food at an assistant level. Any job advertised as ‘great first job’ is for you: bucket-and-spade holidays in Cornwall, stalking weekends in Scotland – anything where picnics and simple suppers reign supreme. The client will be expecting someone inexperienced – and you are likely to have to help with pets and children.
An inexperienced but passionate cook: £100-£120 per day
You might have done a year’s cookery diploma and a few jobs doing simple dinner parties but will never have worked as a private cook alone. You will have good creative skills and photos of your food on a good Instagram page or website. You’ll be perfect for family holidays or modern dinner parties where the food is fresh and inventive. The client is likely to guide you where the menu is concerned, but feel confident that you can pull it all off with aplomb.
A cook with between 2-5 years’ experience: £120-£150 per day
You’ll have experiences in catering companies, private households and restaurants. You’re references will be strong and you will be creative and confident when it comes to menu planning. You should be capable and perfectly responsible in most family holiday or weekend party situations. Special diets, children’s menus and using local ingredients won’t faze you. The client will be leaving the catering entirely up to you.
A competent cook with 5+ years’ experience: £150-£200
You’ll have a broad range of clients and be well used to how it works in private homes. The client really doesn’t need to worry about anything, however you will still be expected to muck in, help with clearing and doing the shopping. You’ll be well-used to special diets as well as ever-changing minds and plans.
Competent chef with 5+ years’ experience: £200-£250 per day
Your skills will be very good and you’ll present your food beautifully. You’ll be flexible and able to undertake briefs at short notice without panicking. The client may have never been in their kitchen before and will leave everything to you. Will expect high-end food and exceptionally professional behaviour.
Extremely experienced chef with 8-10+ years’ experience: £250+ per day
You’ll have excellent references from some of the most exacting private clients and be fully up on current food trends. The clients you’ll have will eat in Michelin-starred restaurants all the time and expect an impeccable standard of service in their own homes. You are likely to have to ‘cook to order’ and must be ready for the client to change their minds often. You will not have to do any tasks other than preparing and cooking food, although flexibility will be required at all times to turn your hand to any unusual requests.