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Industry: Personal vs. Professional Chef

September 4, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu Chicago 0 Comments

When you’re aspiring to be a Chicago chef, you’ll have to make many choices about your career. One of the biggest is whether you want to be a personal chef or professional chef. With the right culinary training and kitchen experience you can aspire to pursue a career as either one so the choice is up to your personal preference. Let’s take a look at which one best suits you and your career goals.

The various titles of “chef” generally apply to more advanced roles in a professional kitchen (for example, Sous Chef, Executive Chef). Graduates of a culinary arts training program should expect to pursue entry-level opportunities and should not expect to become chefs upon graduation but are encouraged to work toward becoming a chef throughout the course of their careers. Le Cordon Bleu does not guarantee employment or salary.

Personal Chef

A personal chef is someone who prepares meals for clients in their homes according the client’s preferences and dietary needs. The meals are planned with the client and the chef is free to bring their creativity to the planned menu. Most often the meals are left packaged and refrigerated or frozen for the client to enjoy later. Other personal chefs prefer to focus on dinner parties and other special occasions. In this way, they work much like caterers doing all planning, shopping, preparation, serving, and clean up after the party.

Being a personal chef requires a high level of motivation to continue to get new clients. As owners of their own businesses, personal chefs must have excellent marketing, business, and financial skills.

Professional Chef

Becoming a Chicago chef means having the opportunity to work in some of the finest kitchens in the country. Some of Chicago’s many fine restaurants include Avec, Alinea, Charlie Trotter’s, and Gene and Georgetti, one of Chicago’s most famous steak houses. These and many other world-class restaurants make Chicago and excellent destination for chefs in training.

Professional chefs are employed by restaurant owners, hotels, caterers, and other owners of commercial kitchens. They may also be chef/owners of their own restaurants taking on the duties of both general manager and executive chef. In addition to the more seasoned roles of executive chef, sous-chef, chef de partie, and garde manger, Chicago chefs have many other opportunities to seek a career in the Chicago food service industry. Buffet managers, beverage managers, sommeliers, pastry chefs, and test kitchen chefs are some of the many opportunities an experience chef can pursue.

Chicago Chef Jobs

As a personal chef one needs a high level of motivation that can reward them with the freedom of owning their business. As a professional chef working in a commercial kitchen, one can have the opportunity to work with other talented and motivated culinary professionals that can assist and motivate them toward the upper echelon of professional Chicago chefs. With hard work and creativity, either of these choices can provide aspire chefs with an exciting and rewarding career in the Chicago food service industry.

This article is presented by The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in Chicago, Illinois. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Chicago for more information.

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