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How Much Does a Personal Chef Cost?

Many people think that a personal chef is an expensive service that only the wealthy or well-to-do can afford. This is not the case. Lots of everyday people with average incomes use the services of personal chefs for various reasons. Like many professional services, how much a personal chef costs can vary. That doesn't mean that people haven't figured out ways to use personal chef services on just about any budget.

Personal Chef and Private Chef

There is a difference between a personal chef and a private chef. People often confuse the two because it sounds like they perform similar duties. It's funny because a private chef is, essentially, your personal chef. However, a personal chef is really a private chef since they work for themselves, and offer their services to many individuals.

What a Personal Chef Does

A personal chef will come to your home and prepare several meals designed to last you and your family a certain length of time. Either they will have a set of meals for you to choose from or they will do the grocery shopping and prepare whatever you want. In either case, they will prepare the dishes to your specifications. They will typically do all of this over the course of a day. Once they prepare all the dishes, they will package and store them for you. From there they will move on to their other clients.

Personal chefs also do one-time events, such as parties or gatherings. They can help you plan a menu and will prepare the dishes for the gathering. They may also stay on to serve as caterer. In fact, some catering companies offer personal chefs as one of their services. Personal chefs can also help people plan out meals, courses, meal budgets and meals that require dietary restrictions. These types of services can come with or without actual meal preparation services.

So How Much Does a Personal Chef Cost?

Personal chefs offer a service; they set prices based on many types of criteria. As with any service, the price range can vary wildly. Additionally, a lot of the cost has to do with what you want in particular. Many people have found that they can afford a personal chef and actually save money. Consider that buying groceries usually costs less than constantly eating out. Depending on the people involved, the time saved from shopping and cooking can translate into more time for other things.

With that in mind, it helps for people to calculate how much they would spend on a meal and turn that into a personal chef budget. If you and your family eat out a lot, consider how much that costs. Don't forget to add in the incidental costs. An incidental cost would include gas for traveling to and from the restaurant, and gratuities paid for the meal. There are also more intangible indirect costs, such as health risks from ill-prepared food, bad service and unhealthy eating.

Figuring out the Budget

Figuring out your per meal budget will help because many chefs charge a per meal or per entrée price. There are two main ways that a personal chef can charge you. These include a flat rate and an hourly rate. With either rate, there are many things that can affect the overall price.

  • Number of people served
  • How many servings required
  • Special instructions
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Ingredients
  • Reputation of chef or service
  • Method of preparation (in-house, picked up, or delivered)

For all these services and more, a good ballpark price range is $35 to $50 per hour or perhaps $13 to $15 per meal. The prices can vary below or above those figures as well. Certain celebrity chefs will charge two, three or more times the hourly rate. If the hourly or per meal rate seems high to you, just remember to create that budget and compare.

General Pricing Example

Let's say you hire a personal chef just for you. The chef charges $13 per meal. The chef offers a flat rate to prepare two weeks' worth of entrees for you. You want just one meal for each day, dinner. That would cost you $182. If you add in a gratuity, a special restriction or preparation instruction, we can add a few more dollars and call it a round $250.

At that price, you will pay close to $18 per meal. Compare that to a restaurant where a meal for a single person can easily skyrocket beyond $18. Also, add in the fringe benefits. These are meals made to your specification that you do not have to go out for. They will likely be much healthier, taste better and they will have that personal touch. It's also time that you personally did not have to spend cooking and preparing.

It's also important to remember that many personal chefs are more than willing to work with you. The budget or price list they submit to you is negotiable. These are professional men and women that typically love what they do. If in doubt, speak to a personal chef or a personal chef service before assuming it's something that's out of your range.