A chef’s dream job is surely working in a private house: getting to know one client and settling into one environment. But these are coveted roles. So, how do you make sure you are pipping all the other excellent chefs out there to the post and landing that career-changing job? We’ll tell you…
1. A website is essential. This should have an ‘About’ section which should give potential clients an overarching insight into who you are and what you do. This section is not where you need to be listing every client you have ever had. You should also have a CV or ‘Experience’ section which is a comprehensive list of what you have done and when. Having a gallery of photos of your food is essential. If possible, a ‘Testimonials’ page is really useful and will instil extra confidence in people.
2. Practise professional social media. You should have an account specifically for your work: pictures of your food, fitting quotes, snapshots of your life as a chef. This account absolutely does not need to be furnished with images of you at a rural Ibizan rave at 6am or memes featuring the F-bomb or even evidence of your baby’s first steps. Your personal life should have its own online space.
3. Keep your CV updated. Make it a habit; after every job you do, top up your CV! This means you are good to go when opportunity knocks.
4. Have an extensive selection of menus available to suit all sorts of climates, diets and tastes. We recommend planning a summer and winter formal menus, a vegetarian menu, a cosy ‘homely’ type of menu, a menu for fussy children and a baking menu. You want to be able to show potential clients exactly what you can do.
5. You need to get two recent, good references ideally from private clients. Don’t be afraid to ask: the worst that can happen is that the client can say no. In this case, you can take the opportunity to find out where you could improve.
6. Having a car or at least a driving license is really important. This is because many private clients live in remote places and often, in your role as chef, you will be doing the food shopping.
7. Brush up your people skills in time for interview. Time and again, in any industry, clients will pick the most personable candidate out of a group of equally talented people. Remember to shake hands firmly, maintain eye contact, listen carefully to questions, smile where appropriate and imagine your grandmother was there assessing your manners and demeanour!
8. Dress to impress. Just because you won’t be suited and booted when you’re doing your job doesn’t mean you can turn up to interview looking like an unmade bed. When you are going to be preparing other people’s food it is essential that you demonstrate excellent personal hygiene. Nails should be immaculate (no nail varnish, ladies), hair should be washed and brushed, clothes spotless and ironed, and shoes clean and polished. An excess of jewellery, ripped jeans, trainers or sportswear are all unattractive to potential employers looking for a private chef so steer well clear on interview day.
8. Be Flexible. With all our jobs, they require a large degree of flexibility. Numbers change, guests appear with unforseen diet requirements, and the clients could be more demanding than you may have originally expected. We appreciate as the chef you will have professional working expectations, but until you have established a loyal working relationship with a client, if you appear defensive, inflexible, or unapproachable in any way, it is likely the client will cancel the booking and look for someone else. At the end of the day, they are the client paying your wage so you need to be adaptable to their needs.
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