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From restaurant chef to private chef: A guide to making a career transition

Becoming a private chef has some crossover with being a restaurant chef but also its differences. Here I'll tell you my top 5 things I wish I'd known sooner


Making a transition from working in restaurants & hotels to working as a private chef has some benefits. Without the drudgery of spending endless hours doing the same monotonous preparations, picking foraged herbs and flower petals & sending out the 700th identical dish of the week, it leaves some more room to be creative & develop new dishes and ideas without all the excessive faffing & fermentation of modern fine dining restaurants.

After lockdowns, and returning to the restaurant grind, I eventually became disillusioned and wanted to move away from the fine dining & Michelin bubble so decided to move into working as private chef both on a permanent basis & as a freelancer as my first business venture & side hustle.

These are the things I wish I'd known before I'd started which would have made it faster & easier.

Brush up on your financial literacy & skills

Working as a freelancer or through a limited company, or even in a permanent role in the private sector will often mean processing expenses or managing some invoices or receipts for petty cash. Errors will typically result in you losing out on missed expense reclaims or undercharging billable expenses to a client, and unlike in a restaurant where invoices will typically be paid by the company finance department, you might have to manage some or all of these yourself.

As a freelancer or limited company director, you will also need to submit a self assessment tax return or corporation tax return & company accounts to HMRC.

Tax Return

Learn how to photograph food

Food photography is increasingly important in 2024 as everything moves more online. Increasingly, job applications require you to submit a portfolio of your previous work & food photographers are expensive. Almost everybody has an iPhone or smartphone in 2024 and learning how to manipulate lighting, your smartphone camera and some photo editing software will pay dividends in building your portfolio.

Food Photography, Phone Photography, Lightroom

Build up a portfolio of your previous work before making a career transition

Increasing number of job applications have asked me to present a portfolio of work upfront recently. Having a portfolio website ready will mean you can quickly direct their attention to this quickly once the perfect role comes up and you're ready to make a career transition.

I personally use as I find it fast and easy to use, while the majority of websites are built using WordPress, which is also good but I found it less intuitive.

Learn about SEO and building up your website traffic

SEO search engine optimisation for private chefs

Being found online is increasingly important to picking up the right clients who will bring in good recurring revenue.

Learning about digitial marketing, SEO (search engine optimisation) & paid digital advertising is a highly transferrable skill that is relevant to any industry which will help build your online presence.

It's a process which takes a significant amount of time to build up, so this is one to start as soon as possible, probably while you are still employed.

Work on your Social Media profiles

Social Media

One thing I was late to the party with was Social Media from a professional context. I undervalued it's importance until only recently, but have increasingly started to understand it's importance.

It's not an area I massively enjoy and it's easy to spend a lot of time achieving nothing down a rabbit hole, but do value it's importance.


In summary, making a move from a restaurant chef has a number of transferable skills, but there's a number of blind spots you might have that you should become aware of if you want to keep growing your business and generate enough sales to do it full-time.

Being self-aware is important so you can address your weaker areas or decide on what you want to delegate out or hire an external agency for.

For me, I love working with money & finances and came into being a private chef while studying accounting after getting disillusioned with working in hotels & restaurants. For this reason, I've enjoy developing & applying those skills and manage these areas myself.

I've also always been very creative, so working on my food photography, blog & website satisfies that need for me to create & build new things.

Digital marketing & Social Media are areas I'm not strong in and don't enjoy as much, so these are the areas I hire specialist assistance in & would eventually like to delegate.

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