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-   -   Is there a Chef in the house? (https://www.discusscooking.com/forums/f26/is-there-a-chef-in-the-house-56932.html)

snack_pack85 04-13-2009 11:06 AM

Is there a Chef in the house?
Anyone here a freelance or personal Cheff? I am wondering how I can get started in the feild. I am seriously annoyed with my job as a nanny and lately I have been preparing some really great meals for the family. It's becoming more and more clear that this is what would make me happy. Just cooking for families/clients etc.

So how did you get started. Is the pay good? What kind of training would I need to be a freelance Cheff?

Callisto in NC 04-13-2009 11:13 AM

Do you have any formal training? Culinary school? Night classes at the community college? Most people won't hire you without credentials. The field is very competitive and without credentials, you'll find it hard to get a position as a personal chef. This is based on research and seeing a friend fail and end up at a restaurant. And she had full training.

snack_pack85 04-13-2009 10:34 PM

I have no training at all, no. But I am looking into culinary school.

LPBeier 04-14-2009 12:26 AM

Culinary school is a great place to start, but to become a private chef takes more than that. You need to work in the field for awhile, whether in restaurants or catering, to get experience and also contacts. I worked for a catering company to complete my apprenticeship to become a chef after school and then I hired myself out for various events, many of which were volunteer work just so I could prove I was able to run things on my own.

Do you cook meals where you nanny? And if so do you plan them or are you given a menu and/or recipes to follow? I ask this because if you are cooking at your job and you create the meals yourself you are doing the work of a private cook.

My advice is go to school, get work in the field and offer to cook for groups or individuals (they supply the food and you will do the planning and cooking) on a volunteer basis so you can get references for that type of work.

I now do catering (from private to large weddings), cake design and hire myself out to other caterers when the need help on a job. I can make my own hours, which is good with recent health problems.

Oh, one more thing. There are businesses springing up all over where they cook meals that people can pick up for dinner or for the freezer. You might want to look into a place like that to gain experience and even see if this is what you want to do.

Good luck!

Cooksie 04-14-2009 09:07 AM


Originally Posted by LPBeier (Post 812813)
Oh, one more thing. There are businesses springing up all over where they cook meals that people can pick up for dinner or for the freezer. You might want to look into a place like that to gain experience and even see if this is what you want to do.

Good luck!

This has become very popular around here. You can just stop by and pick up a casserole/entree on your way home from work. I received a Christmas gift certificate for 8 or 10 (I've forgotten) casseroles/entrees for my freezer. It was nice to have them on hand.

ChefJune 04-14-2009 11:10 AM

You can get TONS of information, as well as some on-line training at the website of the American Personal and Private Chefs Association. Check them out!

LPBeier 04-14-2009 11:28 AM


Originally Posted by ChefJune (Post 812915)
You can get TONS of information, as well as some on-line training at the website of the American Personal and Private Chefs Association. Check them out!

Thanks, June,
I knew you would have more specific information than I as I am not up on the American schools, etc. This is a very interesting site. Don't think we have anything like that here.

snack_pack85 04-14-2009 11:44 AM

Thanks for the info everyone. Here at work, I am first a nanny, but after cooking a few meals for the family they asked me to make one dinner a week and pre make several breakfast options. So in any given week I prepare five or six breakfasts that are kept in the fridge for the week. They are anything from egg bakes, frittatas, sandwiches etc.

The dinners are usually pretty fancy as my boss enjoys the finer things. Because of this I have had access to lots of fine ingredients that I otherwise would have never used. I made scallops once for them that really knocked their socks off (according to them) and I have never ever touched a scallop before let alone cooked them!

I also do a lot of baking. I have made birthday cakes from scratch for each of the family members for their birthdays. it's worked out really well because I am getting a lot of experience with new ingredients and learning new techniques, etc.

My boss has some great connections at the CIA in Napa CA and she is getting me a tour of their campus. That would make me the happiest nanny in the world if that worked out!!

ChefJune 04-14-2009 11:58 AM

I've never heard the Culinary Institute of America referred to as "the CI of A." I've only heard it called "CIA" just like the spy group.

Snack_pack: about 20 years ago, I met a young woman working as a nanny (and cooking some for the family) who signed up to assist me in a cooking class I was teaching in Boston. She kept coming back and assisting, and then started to "moonlight" doing prep in my catering kitchen. She went on from there to cook in some of the top kitchens in Boston. All with no formal training, but by being interested and a quick study, and getting lots of ojt. These days she's "retired" to be a full-time mom, but any of the kitchens where she used to work would be glad to have her back.

All this is to say that there are other routes to your goal than culinary school, which can be VERY expensive.

luvs 04-14-2009 04:22 PM

i would say if you get into school at CIA, you've got it made!

snack_pack85 04-14-2009 09:27 PM

For me it actually has been nearly impossible to get financing for the CIA. I make too much alone to get any substantial help and now that I am married and my husband is in law enforcement, you can forget it. We own two homes but we're just making it (thank god for renters). Basically everything is against me.

Also, Callisto my experience applying at the CIA has been much different than what you describe. There is definetely a test I must pass, and it's called the Compass. The only way out of it is if you've taken the SAT's in the last five years. They're asking for referalls and I need to have worked in a kitchen (on the books or volunteered) for a certain amount of time.

It isn't like a trade school at all. At least not the way that I've seen things so far.

Are you in the CIA now? Or have did you graduate a while back? How was it???

kitchenelf 04-14-2009 09:54 PM

CIA is a very common term for The Culinary Institute of America...VERY common. Now that that's out of the way I would like this thread to get back on topic. It may not look off topic because I have removed some unnecessary posts.

This thread has gotten a bit off topic. What started out to be a very enthusiastic thread about possibly a career in the private cooking field/area (which can take on different forms) to a thread that has gotten a bit in your face and heated.

Snack - I love your enthusiasm to want to get into that niche. I don't believe it's so cut and dry as to you having to have a culinary degree. I believe passion can be a real driving force. There are all sorts of cooking classes that can be had to broaden your repertoire. Enthusiasm and passion are first and foremost...I believe your half-way there! :chef:

CIA in Napa? I saw it as we were driving to Callistoga. My husband was going to set me up with some kind of class...unfortunately I had the flu :sad:. Made for a not so great time in wine country! :lol:

snack_pack85 04-14-2009 10:02 PM

I wasnt aware that the Culinary Institute had a campus in Charolette. I thought they only had three locations? One in New York, California, and Texas. So I am really really confused.

kitchenelf 04-14-2009 10:16 PM

Charlotte has a College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales. I truly am sad they moved from Charleston, South Carolina to Charlotte! There is also a Community Culinary School of Charlotte

That's all I know of in Charlotte.

If you take me to the CIA in Napa with you I'll sharpen your knives for free :mrgreen:

kitchenelf 04-14-2009 10:38 PM

With all due respect you definitely were corresponding with the Culinary Institute of Charlotte. It is, however, different than The Culinary Institute of America. It's not like universities where the name may be University of North Carolina, Charlotte...or University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Those are divisions of the state university system. The CIA has 3 locations only...Hyde Park, Napa, and San Antonio.

The Culinary Institute of America offers an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree. It is not a technical school nor community college. There is nothing wrong with EITHER of those options. I would LOVE to go to any of the culinary programs Charlotte has to offer. I would love to learn anything from anywhere!!!! It's just that this school is not associated with the CIA. It's doesn't make it a bad place...it's just not the CIA.

GB 04-14-2009 10:41 PM


Originally Posted by Callisto in NC (Post 813235)
Well I guess I am attending a school that no one considers a culinary school.

No, you are just attending a school that is not the CIA. As you already mentioned, the school you are talking about goes by CI of A, but as everyone else has mentioned they are talking about the world famous CIA which only has locations in NY, TX, and CA. See their site here where they both say their 3 locations and also that they are knows as the CIA.

Now that we got that out of the way maybe we can once again get this thread back on topic?

LPBeier 04-14-2009 10:46 PM

Snack, even if you can't get into the CIA you can find other programs that will help you on your way. You have gotten a lot of wonderful advice here and I can feel the passion inside of you. Go for it girl, you can do this!

kadesma 04-14-2009 10:48 PM

Back on topic please, seems to me Sp is trying to go a different direction in her life, she needs our help not a slap in the face that her choice of school is unimportant...The positive thing is school.What it's called is not.The Cia yes that is what we here in California call the school in Napa is a beautiful large grey stone building, as you drive by it almost calls to you..but the main thing is school...Learn and go forward...SP, seems to me if I were in your shoes I'd talk with luvs but espically with Chef June. Her post to you just might be your way to go.Listen to those who have your best interest at heart,anything else, take it for what it is,worries for you and listen well..You will find a way.

Wyogal 04-14-2009 10:59 PM

I am currently in culinary school, but am probably not going to finish (for a variety of reasons). I am also looking at the APPCA, as I'd like to become a personal/private chef.

kitchenelf 04-15-2009 10:18 AM

Wyogal - keep us informed of your career.

snack - I'm packed and ready to go to Napa - - - :rolleyes:

snack_pack85 04-17-2009 02:27 PM

Yes!! Sounds like we're ALL going to Napa! Who's driving? My car seats four ;)

Thanks, Everyone for the wonderful advice. I am really hoping for the best. My dh and I were a little worred about the amount of time it takes. I am 24, and I'll be in my current position for atleast another year and a half. So if I start the CIA at 25 or 26 it looks like I'll be tied up there for over two years as well (I think three actually) and I don't know how I can swing that.

We live a bit away from Napa, so we'd have to figure out some living arrangements etc. Decisions decisions. I have a lot to think abdout and you have all given me a bit of extra info and encouragement to consider as well.

Thanks Friends!

c'com kitchenelf...Napa is waiting....

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