How Chef Josh became a personal chef

There are 2.3 million chefs in the United States, and a recent study shows that over 90% spend their careers working hard for someone else’s business while dreaming of starting and running their own personal chef business. Sadly, the vast majority of chefs take never get beyond the idea stage. The dream stage. Dreaming is fun, but to become a personal chef you need action.

Since it’s helpful to see how others have successfully become a personal chef or private chef (and not only survived, but thrived), I’m going to share a story about a real-life chef and friend, Josh. He’s crushing it in his personal chef business and he did it by taking action with these three simple steps.

To Become A Personal Chef Or Private Chef You Need Good Food– And Better Business Skills!

Let’s face it, to run a business you need business skills.

Whether you’re the best butcher, the most creative baker, or some super innovative candlestick maker, you’d better know how to run the business side of your business. Your food won’t get you out of the kitchen. Your business skills will. 

You need cooking skills and business skills to become a personal chef

If you’re reading this, you already know how to cook. Chefs who start their own personal chef business take the drive they used to master the kitchen and apply it to their business. That means devoting the time to learn as much about the business end as you do about the food. Read. Do mental sit-ups. Hire a coach. Put in the time. Increase your business skills. Invest in yourself.

And most importantly: know yourself.

What does that have to do with becoming a personal chef? It allows you to identify exactly what you want, why you want it, what you’re willing to do to get it, and what you need to learn to add to the good food and skills you already have.

When Chef Josh came to us in 2015 he was already a good chef. He was working in a sushi restaurant doing great work but living paycheck to paycheck. What he really wanted was to call his own shots, do what he loves, and get paid what he’s worth. So he took action and came to us for help with his business.

Personal Chefs Get Paid More When They Define Their Niche

The world needs chefs. Personal Chefs and Private Chefs. (Believe it or not, most people don’t like to cook and they consider it money well-spent to hire a professional to cook for them.) There’s no question the world needs chefs. The real question for you, chef, is who will you serve?

You gotta find a niche. And to niche it up, you have to know yourself.

You have to know EXACTLY how the food you cook solves a unique problem for the customers and clients you serve. In business, it’s not about big brush strokes—it’s about acute details. The super fine-point. The sword’s tip. That’s how you penetrate. That’s how you profit.

So, dive deep into a niche you’re passionate about. You don’t even have to create anything new; you just have to offer a solution to your ideal clients’ problems.

Here are some examples of niches that pay chefs handsomely for their skills:

  • a chef who helps athletes reach peak performance through nutrition
  • a chef who transforms a family’s eating routine after one member’s celiac diagnosis
  • a chef who specializes in executing specialized diets for people who find them laborious and hard to stick to
  • a chef who brings families back to the weeknight dinner table

Chef Josh is a sushi chef and he brings the quality of an exceptional sushi restaurant experience to private homes for parties. No more waiting in a line or shouting over the crowds. No more drinking and driving.

Chef Josh’s offering something people love and want– in a unique way. And it solves a problem for his clients. They want to have an intimate sushi dinner without the crowds, the wait for a table, or keeping track of their drinks.

Niche it up and create a business that naturally attracts your ideal clients. Think ‘small’ niche to get big.

That’s what I do too. I’m a business coach just for chefs who want to go independent and start their own personal or private chef businesses. There’s plenty of business coaches in the world, but not many who know the culinary industry inside and out…with a proven system to get independent chef businesses profitable from day one! (And if you want to learn more about that system, consider signing up for the Rapid Business Launch to go from zero to launched in 30 days with 12 five star reviews)

Successful Personal Chefs Execute Their Business Map: Chef Josh’s Story

When Chef Josh first ditched the restaurant scene to fulfill his dream of owning his own business he started working with us at HeyChef!, my Lake Tahoe-based Independent Chef staffing business. We helped him fill his calendar with good-paying gigs and get his feet on the ground.

Our systems helped him focus on his food and making clients happy while he learned the behind-the-scenes processes that makes it easy to thrive as an a personal chef. We showed him the ropes and in a short time he learned how to handle booking gigs, executing them, invoicing, follow up and business management. Helping Chef Josh start his personal chef business was the beginning of realizing I could teach the business skills I used to create HeyChef!. Since then I have created Make Your Business Cook, helping chefs around the world start calling their own shots, doing what they love, and getting paid what they’re worth.

We miss Chef Josh dearly, but he doesn’t need us to help book gigs anymore. He got big. And he went BIG by going small.

Chef Josh And His Food

No website. No logo. Not even a business card. Nope, Josh had a sidewalk. And he knew how to execute a niched-out business map.

He started doing popups outside a small grocery in the shopping village at the Northstar California ski resort. And every time he prepared his sushi (selling rolls + offering some freebies) homeowners with ski chalets would inevitably stop by for a sample. It didn’t matter that Mikuni, an actual sushi restaurant, was about a hundred yards away. People liked not having to wait for a table. And people liked Josh. 

Josh knew this. 

With the potential clients enjoying his ahi, Josh would then step into phase two of his business map: Book Gigs. He’d upsell the heck out of himself by talking about what he could create inside their home, in their kitchen, just for them. He didn’t have to be salesman-like, he was just being himself. He’d build on their desire to ‘host friends in my own home’ and when they asked for his contact info he’d get theirs as well so he could follow up. With an exchange of phone numbers and a handshake, he’d book gigs on the spot.

Josh found a niche. (Second home owners who love sushi= a GREAT niche!) He went small to get big. He got out in front of ideal customers. And now he’s the region’s top Independent Sushi Chef. Not bad.

Takeaway For Personal Chefs Who Are Ready to Step Into Business Ownership

The good news is this: the same characteristics that bring you success in your personal life transfer over to your business. Know Yourself. Increase Your Skills. Execute Your Plan.

Chef Josh had to sort a few things out before he got the ‘popup’ execution down. (I remember one April 14th he came into HeyChef! headquarters like a student cramming for a final and we worked together to reconstruct some of his receipts and business records so he could file his taxes before the deadline.) He made the changes. He learned new skills. He took action — and off he went.

The areas in which you currently “fall short” are sign-posts for trouble spots in your business. Change them by increasing your skills. Change them for the better and fast-track your business. Know yourself— or you’d better pray for dumb luck.

Chef Josh didn’t rely on luck. He got his shit in order and made a business map. He invested in a coach (that’s me!), found a niche, began, and executed. 

Now he calls his own shots. Gets paid what he’s worth, too.


Here’s some more of my students. I’m so proud of each and every one of them!

If you want to be a success story, you can work with me in a few different ways:

  1. Download the free roadmap to assess whether you’re ready to go out on your own as a personal or private chef
  2. Check the schedule to see when the next 30 day Rapid Business Launch class is happening
  3. Book a time to talk with me about your goals and dreams. We’ll work on a game plan to get you on the road to your dreams (and it’s free!)