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Everything You Wanted To Know About Hiring A Private Chef....

Since the pandemic there has been a distinct rise in the amount of people hiring a Private Chef especially for a treat on holiday or for Hen nights. We've asked many of our customers what encouraged them to use a private chef instead of going out and the main reasons are:

  1. Cost. Many people find it more affordable to have a chef come in and cook, they usually take care of the drinks which means they're not paying restaurant or pub prices.

  2. Many venues will not cater for larger parties especially if they have children in the evenings.

  3. A lot of our customers love the opportunity to sit and chat to their guests instead of being chained to the kitchen.

  4. No one wants to be designated driver !


There are two very distinct types of customers. Those who are old hands and hire a private chef every year on holiday or for special occasions and are used to chefs being around and then there are the others who have not. So for the latter category here's a snap shot of what to expect.





What To Expect


Booking Your Chef


The process of hiring a Private Chef is relatively easy. Before you email or speak to a Chef you should have visited their website and socials this will give you a feel for them and their food. It's natural to want to shop around so consider a couple of quotes, however, please keep in mind, cheaper doesn't automatically mean better and if you hear the word " Oh I can do better than that" ask yourself why a company would undercut another quote? Our prices reflect our service and the quality of the ingredients we serve. If someone is undercutting another chef, it says more about them- think about it. Once you have a company in mind you need to be ready with the following information.


a) A Date ( the timings can be sorted out later)

b) A Venue

b) A Budget

c) A Deposit


Almost all Private Chefs will ask for a deposit before confirming the date or working on a bespoke menu the budget will also need to have been agreed.





Prices


When you're looking at pricing try block the following phrases from your mind.


" I can get it cheaper ....."

" It doesn't cost that much at Miller & Carter or other chain "


Of course you can get it cheaper, of course chain restaurants can charge less, they're using mass produced food, a lot of prepared off site and heated up on site by kitchen team who are paid a pittance.

That's not what having a Private Chef is all about. Try to remember, the cost is not just a trip to the supermarket and cooking a few steaks on the night.


The costs for your meal include the following: Ingredients ( You might have noticed a very sharp rise in the cost of ingredients) most Chefs support their local economy and will buy from anywhere but a supermarket !! prep time ( a considerable amount of work goes into your event before your chef even arrives at your venue) staff costs ( if you've got over 12 guests then we'll be bringing an additional member of staff to help with service) Fixed Costs ( electricity, gas, water, fuel, insurance ) All of these costs are built into the per head price. With the cost of living crisis continuing to affect most households we are all trying so hard make our offerings as competitive as possible.


Once this the budget is agreed, the deposit received and confirmation is sent, work can begin on menus. During the period between hiring and the deadline for menus Chef will be very busy, cooking for others. Your event is in the diary and work is going on behind the scenes.Chef will have signposted you to sample menus to whet your appetite and will be on hand to answer any questions. Please remember to be mindful when contacting your chef.


To give you an idea, on an average day I am in the kitchen from around 0800 onwards. I am prepping usually 3 -5 courses alone for up to 50 individuals. I have a break for an hour before I leave to go to the venue. I leave my phone on silent. I am not being rude if I don't answer you immediately I am genuinely busy. The event is all evening and then with travel time arrival back at home is close to midnight.


I always try to give customers the heads up if I am ridiculously busy and agree a mutually acceptable time to email or speak. Repeatedly texting, calling and emailing is not going to help your relationship with your Chef. I once had a customer do all three throughout a service and in spite of me politely writing back and reminding them I was at work, it continued. The next day I cancelled the booking and returned the deposit minus my time.





The Clock Is Ticking


By the time we are on t-minus 14 days to go to the event the menu should be printed and distributed and menu choices returned to your chef. The total number of guests finalised together with any allergies and intolerances and times agreed. We get that life happens and are absolutely flexible so open communication is really important here. Just keep Chef in the loop or you will still be charged in most cases, if meals have been prepped meals for guests who are no longer attending.


On The Day


Depending on the size of your event prep will have been well underway the day before, however, the majority of prep is done on the day. everything is packed and labelled and chilled until the last minute. Then transported in coolers. We always advise customers that we will arrive on site 90minutes before service begins. We leave way before that to ensure that we have the required about amount time to ensure dinner /canapés are served on time. You will always contact you if there are any issues on the journey.


Whilst your Chef is on the way, you need to ensure the kitchen surfaces are cleared down, washing up is not left in the sink and the dishwashers are not full of dirty food ( Yes, this has really happened !! ) . A shelf in the fridge and freezer would also be very handy we don't want your desserts melting ! It really holds things up if we are sorting out the kitchen on arrival and can cause delays in service times. Chef will arrive and be really looking forward to cooking for you. You'll have got know each other over the weeks or months of planning. The first things most Chefs will do is have a look at the kitchen, check the crockery, cooking equipment and turn the oven (s) on.





Then we'll unpack and start cooking. I can't speak for other chefs but everyone is welcome in the kitchen as we continue prep and cook. We'd just ask that guests keep clear of the kitchen when we are serving. So be mindful if you're laying the table or mixing drinks. We've had service held up before by people mixing cocktails for 20 mins and whilst we appreciate that this is your space, we are trying to provide you with the service we've promised.


Once the canapés or first course has been plated and started service, everything should run smoothly. If there is anything you need just flag it to your Chef or front of house team on the night Chef' will be clearing down, washing and drying, putting crockery and cutlery away as the service continues and by the end of the evening you will be left with a pristine kitchen, you won't even know that we've been ! Chef may ask you to check the kitchen before they leave to ensure you're satisfied that all is well and thats it !





Finally .... Just a few do's and don'ts


  1. Do communicate with Chef, we realise you want everything run smoothly, so do we. A simple text first to arrange to speak is so much better than calling when Chef is in the middle of a busy service.

  2. Do get involved with menu planning. Its your event and it should reflect your wishes.

  3. Do ensure only one person is communicating with Chef.

  4. Do have a chat with Chef throughout the night, we always so happy to engage with our guests.

  5. Do give feedback, good or bad. Its important so long as it is fair and constructive

  6. Do read the Terms and Conditions. Our's are flagged clearly on our website.

  7. Don't get worried about your kitchen ( if you're at home) We are not there to judge, we are there to cook.

  8. Don't treat Chef and any colleagues like 'The hired help"

  9. Don't overcrowd the kitchen once service starts, there is a lot of very hot dishes being moved around. We don't want any accidents.

  10. Don't ask us to reproduce chain restaurant menus. It's not going to happen.

  11. Don't dump dirty glasses or crockery used before in the kitchen, it's not our job to wash it up

  12. Don't assume we will cook for your children if it hasn't been previously agreed. The best thing to do is to agree all of this up front and get it written into the contract of confirmation. Then there is no awkwardness later.


Do above everything else ENJOY YOURSELVES trust Chef and team to do a wonderful job for you. In a lot of cases this is a luxury and you should be able to enjoy every second.






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