This is not an easy question to answer, as the role of a private chef is a demanding one and certain aspects are reliant on the clients’ requirements, however there are some fundamentals that every chef needs to succeed in the private sector.
I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a career that’s spanned from cooking in the bustling professional restaurant kitchens of London, to cooking in high profile private chef positions globally. Now, with the team at Chef Xclusive, we are dedicated entirely to sourcing private chefs for our clients, and understanding what it takes to be truly great in the role is essential.
Chef Xclusive is a bespoke consultancy sourcing private chefs for luxury lifestyles, private residences, yachts, luxury villas & chalets, private aviation and secluded retreats. Not only do we work hard to match our chefs’ skills and personality with our clients’ requirements, but we are also committed to contributing our knowledge and understanding to improve, and develop the private chef profession.
Working as a private chef differs greatly from the commercial kitchen, where the daily duties are focused toward the busy service times – preparing your mise en place for the inevitable onslaught of checks from the ticket machine. Within the commercial kitchen a chef will fit into place with the other team members, becoming a unified well-oiled machine that, seamlessly brings together many different elements to create the final plate for the diner.
The majority of private chefs work alone, shouldering sole responsibility for the provisioning, preparation, storage, cooking and in some cases serving of the dishes. Communication is key; the ability to discuss and understand the principals’ preferences is paramount. There are many details to consider, likes and dislikes, service times, dining locations and dietary requirements, to list a few. In addition, the preference list sets the boundaries for the culinary playground, dictating how the chef can experiment to deliver new techniques, ingredients, cooking styles and experiences for their principals. An open and honest line of communication is the cornerstone of the relationship.
Organization is a quality that every great chef possesses, and within the private role it is the chef’s most trusted ally. Between picking the fresh produce in the morning to cleaning down the kitchen in the evening, their schedule is extremely busy. Amidst the barrage of duties the chef must always be prepared to be flexible, and incorporate new requests and instructions from their principals, itineraries change at the blink of an eye so it is essential the chef is ready to adapt quickly and seamlessly.
A private chef will spend a large quantity of time within the principal’s private space, during relaxed and social occasions. Therefore, it is vital that the chef has a personality that can blend into the atmosphere while remaining professional. The best private chefs have the ability to magically fade in and out of the background, understanding when their presence is required and when it most definitely isn’t.
The chef requires a vast skill set to facilitate the principal’s requirements. They need to be skilled in preparing a balanced weekly menu consisting of breakfasts and brunches, freshly baked breads and pastries, lunches and family style meals. No matter how simple the requirements the chef will use their skills and resources to lift the dishes to new heights.
Principals often dine in world-renowned restaurants meaning the chef will need to stay in tune with the latest fashions and trends. Keeping up to date with new techniques and equipment in the culinary arena will enable them to create exceptional fine dining experiences. Possessing the drive and determination to continuously self-develop is critical.
The kitchen walls do not define the boundaries of the private chef role. True passion for cooking enables the chef to develop their position by suggesting beneficial additions to the estate or property, implementation of vegetable and fruit gardens for seasonal produce, roosting boxes for chickens to provide free range eggs, fire pits for grilling and roasting and preferred supplier lists for the best local produce. These types of additions improve the overall service that the chef can deliver, from the fresh garden produce to the freshly laid eggs.
The role of a private chef is demanding and is not limited to the clutter of pots and pans, it’s a hard and varied job that requires a skilled and talented individual with drive and enthusiasm. The truly great private chefs of this world are continuously pushing the boundaries, developing and honing their skills to deliver their principals an unparalleled level of service.