10 Things You Should Know Before Booking Your Personal Chef
When booking a Personal Chef for your custom event there are a lot of details you may not necessarily think about that are needed to make your private event a success. If this is your first experience booking a chef, relax--you will never be able to think of everything beforehand but below are 10 things you should know before reaching out to the Chef for planning and estimated pricing.
It can take a couple of days for the chef to put together a customized proposal and menu so knowing your budget at first contact means the chef can work with you in deciding what your best choices are in the shortest time frame. For a fully customized service, pricing can vary based on what you would like provided in your menu and service--sometimes sourcing research is required to find those special touches and there are so many other factors involved. Target for fine dining restaurant price ranges to help you formulate a budget based on your number of persons. Don't forget to factor in rental wares, staffing, cocktails and any extras you expect.
2: Target Dates
It takes a lot of time and effort to put an event together so booking as far ahead as possible makes things easier for everyone. If you're booking a large event for a date less than 2 weeks ahead you can expect additional charges as the chef will have to put extra work into procuring and preparing everything in a short time frame. Remember, the chef sources all the ingredients by hand and it can take several days to work with vendors, shop and prep them all.
3: Contact Information
Provide all contact information--names, phone numbers and email addresses are very important. If the chef needs to connect with a coordinator or venue managers and other service providers that you are using for your event, you'll want to provide that information too.
4: The Type of Service
The chef needs to know if you would like a seated, presented meal or a cocktail party style service with small plates, buffet or passed appetizers. The type of service you choose can impact the number of staff needed and will shape the way your service is timed and planned out.
5: Type of Food
Knowing the type of food you want can help usher along the proposal process. Have some of your favorites in mind as custom menus are designed specifically for your individual taste. Best also to know if there are any allergies, religious observations or special dietary needs for your particular group. Refer to sample menus on the website if the chef has samplers to look at; they can help you get a feel for the chef's style. If you're offered a consultation, ask about the chef's signature dishes--these often showcase the chef's best work and are often fondly remembered by guests.
If you opt to have cocktail service you may know exactly what you want or you may want to work with the chef to provide signature cocktail curation. Selections from their custom beverage program should be easy to add, just note that costs will have a lot to do with the laws around serving alcohol, staffing for the service and the number of ingredients needed to make your cocktails.
7: Know your Timetable
Depending on the type of event you're having, the chef needs anywhere between 2 to 6 hours onsite before the event to prepare and assemble dishes, and to arrange decor if that is part of the requested service. Hiring a private/personal chef is not the same as hiring a caterer--a lot of your menu items are prepared fresh from scratch right in your kitchen. So be prepared to share a bit of kitchen space!
8: Kitchen Specifications
Know the details of your kitchen space as this can make a big difference in how food, equipment and supplies are transported and stored once the chef arrives. Some things to know include:
- How many eyes on the range?
- Is the range gas or electric?
- How many ovens and warmer drawers?
- Is there a dishwasher?
- How much refrigerator space can you have available for use?
- How much counter space can you have available for food preparation?
- Dishwares; will you need the chef's rental service or do you have your own special china that you wish to use? Remember, additional charges can be incurred for hand washing of dishes, fine crystal and specialty wares.
Supplying photos of the kitchen space is recommended and they are easy to take with your camera phone and send to the chef via text or email.
Expect to give a full physical address of your event location; how else will the chef know where to go? The chef needs to know where the event will be held so that rental deliveries can be made and travel costs can be calculated--these charges are typically costed on a regional per diem scale. Be prepared to give a billing address as well. Bookkeeping can be such a task but quite necessary for records, charges and receipts.
10: Access to the Event Space
The chef will need to know details on how to access the event space. What the parking situation is like, where the entrance is, are there stairs involved or any other details that will impact how they get their equipment and ingredients to the kitchen.
Of course there are many other little details that you will eventually work out with the chef but this list should help to make the process easy and productive for both parties at first contact. We hope that you have found this article useful and that it will help to make the booking process smooth and easy. With Mardi Gras and Spring around the corner we also hope that we've inspired you to start thinking about your next dinner party and how to make it special.
And finally, in the spirit of the season we'd like to share a Mardi-Gras inspired recipe for you to try; just click the photo below and enjoy!
Popcorn Rock Shrimp with Spicy Honey