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Cost of a Passionate Chef

How Much Can I Expect To Pay For A Private Chef?

Mar 5 2020

Private Chefs in America charge on average between $35 & $45 per hour, which generally doesn’t include anything beyond the skill of the Chef. It will, however, cover the hardware the Chef needs to do their job from pots and pans to their prized Chef’s knives. Cooking for a group of four or more can easily require six to eight hours, or $270 - $360. That said, there are many factors that go into how much you’ll pay for your meals such as where you live, how many people are being served, the number of people required for the event, how many courses the meal is comprised of and much more.

What’s in this guide?
  • What type of Chef is the right fit for you?
  • - Private Chef

    - Caterers

  • What services do Chefs Offer?
  • - Meal Prepping

    - Dinner Party

    - Catering Services

    - Grocery Shopping

    - Cooking Lessons

    - Knife Sharpening

    - Daily Meals

  • What Factors affect the cost of hiring a Chef
  • - Geographic Location

    - Skill / Reputation of the Chef

    - Number of Guests

    - Number of Courses

    - Ingredients Required

    - Equipment Required

  • How much should you tip your Chef or Caterer
  • How to make your experience with a Private Chef go smoothly.
  • - Before

    - During

    - After

  • Mistakes to avoid while hiring a Chef
  • - Poor planning

    - Trying to save money

  • How to hire a local Chef
  • - Scouting

    - Scheduling

    What type of professional is right for you?

    Many Chefs can make a menu, shop for the meal, cook it and even serve it or package it up to be enjoyed later. That said, the cost to hire a Chef can vary greatly depending on many factors such as where you live, how many people are being served, the quality of the ingredients, the number of people required for the event, how many courses the meal is comprised of and much more. In most cases you’re either choosing between Private Chefs and caterers. Neither one is necessarily better than the other, but one of them are better for you and your needs. We hope this guide will make it much easy for you to figure out which is best for you.

    Private Chefs

    There are several Private Chefs that provide the growing list of food services we’ve grown accustomed to like meal prepping, dinner parties, catering, grocery shopping, cooking lessons, knife sharpening and daily meals.

    Many Private Chefs operate by themselves which is a great setup for most. It allows them to have freedom in their scheduling to be able to take whatever event they want without concern to the availability of others, it allows them to set their own pay rate and gives them the most control over the actual execution of the selected service.

    Where it is more difficult for them, however, is the amount of people they can cater to. At Savor The Passion we like to recommend that a Chef working by themselves not cook for more than 10 people at a time in order to ensure the highest quality.

    Hiring Chefs that work alone is also great because its so much easier to arrange for them to cook for you and your guests when they don’t live locally often no even in the same time zone. This will minimize costs of travel plus room and board.


    Oftentimes we have hosts reach out that want to have an event for more than ten people, but are sick of going to the same restaurants or someone that can’t go out to eat in a restaurant for medical reasons getting a Chef with a support staff is a great option. These Chefs often refer to themselves as caterers.

    These Chefs that act as caters often charge based on the amount of people that they serve at any given event as well as other things like required staff on hand & extra equipment required to serve a larger crowd of people like warming trays, servers, bartenders, ice. Distance often plays a major role in determining how much your event will cost. Depending on where you are often changes what the standard distance is that you start getting charged a traveling fee.

    >> Looking to feed a crowd? Compare caterers near you
    What services do Chefs Offer?

    The title Chef encompasses so many skills and services, but no Chef is great at everything and some Chefs simply aren’t interested in doing everything a Chef is capable of doing.

    Meal Prepping

    There are so many reasons that people can use a Chef to meal prep. Most often we see busy families that are simply strapped for time. When a host needs a meal prep, they can contact a Private Chef where they will work together to build the perfect menu. On average you can expect each serving of your meal to cost $10-$12. This service is best used with a local Chef that lives near you so that you don’t have to pay for traveling costs.

    Tip: When first building a relationship with your Chef stay in the kitchen or a nearby room to watch your Chefs process while they prepare your meal. Its up to you if & when you want to share a security code with your Chef to maximize your time while they cook for you.

    Remember: they are just like a plumber, electrician or cable technician; they’re there to make your life better.

    Dinner Party

    Private Chefs are frequently requested for dinner parties to celebrate all kinds of events in a person’s life. Anniversaries, milestone birthdays, baby showers and many other events have proven great excuses to have a Private Chef attend and cook for a dinner party.

    Chefs often have a number of menu items to choose from which have a price tag per person to them though there are times where a custom menu is required for an event. The national average for the cost of a meal cooked by a Private Chef comes in around $45/person. Truly passionate Chefs often have menus that are already designed for dietary restrictions like Celiac Disease, low-carb diets, low-sugar diets, low-sodium diets & many more restrictions. A truly skilled Private Chef should have no problem making a custom menu for your meal of the day or evening.

    Tip: Its best to ask your guests in advance if they have any dietary restrictions like allergies to make the menu design process go as quickly as possible.

    Remember: Chefs are artistic so to really enjoy your Chef its best to give them an outline of what you’re looking for in a meal and allow them to fill in the blanks.

    Catering Services

    We all know that the best celebrations are only great because we get to share our success. When you have a celebration, you’d like to share with your loved ones a caterer is often a great option when there are 10 or more guests you’d like served. Caterers often work solely with a set menu that you have to choose from. This gives everyone two key benefits being we know how much it will cost well in advance and your Chef has likely cooked this meal several times allowing the best chance of consistent results. Nationally caterers have been known to charge anywhere from $20 - $110 per person which usually only covers the cost of labor and materials. If you need them to rent tables, plate ware or things of that nature that is using charged separately.

    Tip: We believe the best number of people any one person should be serving at one time is 10. So, if you have 23 guests its best to have a Chef and 2 assistants with them

    Remember: Food has always brought people together; its easy to find an excuse to have a Private Chef cook for you!

    Grocery Shopping

    We’ve all been grocery shopping, but have you ever gone shopping through the eyes of a Chef? This is a great opportunity to really get to know your food and what you should be looking for while you’re shopping. There are two options to go through when you choose to have a Private Chef do your grocery shopping. You can either go on a guided tour with your Private Chef or you can have them restock your kitchen either on an on-call basis or at regularly scheduled intervals.

    With a guided Tour you and your Chef will meet at a local grocery store or farmer’s market where they give you a guided tour through a local grocery store or farmer’s market. Coming with a shopping list will allow your Private Chef to go through and give you the most tips on how to select your ingredients.

    Kitchen Restocking is great if you’re a busy body looking for a great opportunity to save some time and still have a well-stocked kitchen with the freshest foods chosen by the eyes of a professional.

    Tip: So long as you’re doing a guided tour around the grocery store or farmer’s markets, now is a great time to schedule a time for them to come cook for you and your loved ones using the ingredients you just bought together

    Pricing Insight: In either case your Chef will likely charge per hour though some Chefs do prefer to charge on a per person basis.

    Cooking Lessons

    Ah cooking lessons. Everyone can cook, but if you really want to learn what it takes to make the beautiful meals you see on your phone and when you go out to eat there is only one way to do that, you need to learn from the source, a Private Chef live and in the flesh ready to answer your questions personally. Your Chef will come with all the materials, just bring your imagination and creativity.

    Tip: There are different Chefs that specialize in a specific process or cuisine. So, though most Private Chefs and Caterers, if there is something specific you are looking for (like working with seafood for instance) its best to find a Chef that has homed in their knowledge.

    Pricing insight: The national average for cooking lessons varies most often around their usual price of about $45/ person.

    Knife Sharpening

    If you’re anything like most home cooks you’ve heard enough horror stories with a knife that you’re more than a little intimidated by a kitchen knife. Truth is that most kitchen accidents happen because the knife wasn’t sharp. It just so happens that any Chef worth their salt knows how to maintain their own knives which means by extension yours.

    Generally, a Chef will charge by the inch or the blade, but the most telling baring to tell how much it will cost to sharpen your knife will depend on what kind of steel you use. Assuming you aren’t using specialty blades you can expect it to cost you around $25 per blade you need sharpened which should last you four to six months under normal home use.

    Daily Meals

    If you’re looking to make sure you eat well with minimal effort this is a great option for you. Some people use this as a great way to make their vacation just that much better after making a real connection with their Chef to fly them out with them for weeks or months at a time. Now, obviously this incurs extra fees if you’re expecting them to travel with you, but that isn’t the only option to have daily meals made for you. If you’re looking to save time at home this is another great option for you that will likely be charged on a monthly basis.

    Pricing insight: its best to take this on a case by case basis as Chefs may change which they prefer to charge by based on the service being provided to determine whether they will choose to charge by the hour or by the meal.

    Number of Courses

    The number of courses that a meal has will change the price. There are so many ways a meal can be constructed and each one will not only come with a different experience to accompany it, but there is also a change in price to go along with it.

    Ingredients Required

    In the culinary world we say the name of the game is repurposing. A clear sign of the skill of a Chef is the amount of creativity that they can find to reuse the same ingredients in different dishes and get different results. That said, it’s generally best to have all guests have the same menu for the sake of keeping costs down and maximizing efficiency.

    It’s not only about how many ingredients are involved in a meal, but also the quality of those ingredients to go along with it. Choosing the freshest ingredients is always preferred, but things like fresh egg pasta over dried will add ingredients and time, though you will also get a noticeably better product. Perhaps a more familiar form of a higher product is when our hosts request all organic ingredients which beyond severely minimizing our potential ingredients it also boasts a premium price of 40% above the non-organic alternatives.

    Equipment Required

    Every event comes with their own needs to feed the party goers. For the most part your Private Chef or caterer will already have the costs of basic equipment baked right into the base price of their services including pots, pans, knives, cutting boards and well as any cleaning supplies that may be necessary.

    There are times, however, that the usual tools and equipment aren’t quite enough to get the job done whether you request they do live action stations where they make omelets in front of your guests while they make their order, you request to have Hibachi service complete with a Chef doing all the tricks you love, a Sushi Chef that breaks out the dry ice to take their presentation to the next level all the way up to requesting a food truck to service tens to hundreds of your guests.

    Stairs and Other Obstacles

    Other factors that are likely to affect the hourly rate of your event include factors that make life more difficult getting to and from the service such as stairs or steep driveways as carrying the amount of goods they will need becomes much more challenging when obstacles like these come into play.

    It’s not simply a matter of the difficulty that raises the price rather it’s the amount of danger and physical exertion coming into play that makes the difference here. Much like a mover, stairs or a steep driveway makes it more likely that there will be an injury during your event.

    How a team charge for obstacles depends largely on the company. Some Private Chefs & caterers have set rates for stairs, running an average of $50 to $70 per flight of stairs. Though, if you live on a top floor and your team has to transport all of their tools up & down in the elevator, they may have a one-time fee usually at an average of $75 to $100.

    Chef’s Tip: During your initial conversations with the Chef or Caterer, it’s important to provide as much detail as possible. The more information that you can give them in the initial conversation the more accurate an estimate that they can give you in order to make your decision.

    Opportunity Cost

    Opportunity cost is a topic most hosts don’t consider, but Chefs and Private Chefs have to keep this in mind. Truth is the more time they are with you the less amount of time they will be available to cook for other hosts. At the end of the day they are businesses and when it comes to their time, they make the most of it. To put it simply, if you want to be sure you get the best help possible be willing to offer them more money than the next guy. Once a Chef accepts a gig, we are very strict against those that would drop one gig to pick up another for the sake of the money. Don’t give them a reason to choose the other party over yours, right?

    How much should you tip your Chef or Caterer

    Simply put, as in all services, tipping is not required, but it is appreciated. When it comes to Private Chefs, we generally recommend 20-25%. When you hire a caterer there is another option to consider. I’d recommend you ask if they will be using tip pooling. If they do then I would treat the tipping aspect just like with a Private Chef. That said, if they don’t then I recommend tipping based on individual effort. If you see one employee working hardest a tip of 18% - 25% is strongly recommended

    How to make your experience with a Private Chef go smoothly.


    There are a few things that you should have in mind when you’re preparing to hire a Private Chef or caterer. You should have an idea of how many people you’re expecting and while you’re getting that list together its also a very good time for you to get an idea of what everyone’s dietary requirements are as this is going to be a big factor in determining what you’re able to have in your meal. Also, we recommend making sure all of the equipment is in working order. The last thing you want to have happen is to have one of your two ovens break down in the middle of your wedding and everything gets pushed back.


    The most important things that you can do to make sure that your event goes well is to make sure that your counters are clear, the sink is empty and the more space you can give your Chef in you fridge & freezer.


    At the end of your event there should be next to nothing left to be done we simply request that you make the final payment for your event within 24 hrs. and please make a review of your Chef so that we can track how each Chef is doing and to reward their great efforts.

    Mistakes to avoid while hiring a Chef

    Poor Planning

    For events under 50 people this is generally not an issue, but when we start talking about bigger numbers then we need to start taking planning into consideration.

    A few key points to have in mind: if you’re in need of several services like in a wedding for instance; its best to not have all the different services come at the same time. Rather its best to stagger them so that coordination doesn’t become overwhelming.

    Remember, you hired professionals for a reason. Though you hired us to make your vision a reality, remember you hired us to make your vision a reality. Give your pros a list of what you want done but leave it to them to get it done their way. They’ve spent years learning how to do the job to the highest quality in the least amount of time.

    Trying to Save Money

    This is very much like the poor planning. Your pro is there to help you. Generally speaking, we are good people that just want to use our passion to make your life better. In that spirit our pros quote you in order to put themselves in a position to provide you with the best possible experience. Naturally you may want to haggle for a lower price, but please know, in doing so you are directly sacrificing the quality of your experience.

    Rather, if you find yourself talking to a Private Chef or caterer that quotes you higher than you intended feel free to request if there is any fluff you can do away with first. Likely they are already doing what they can with what they have so should they insist this is the best they can do we recommend you contact another pro that might be in a better position to help you in the way you seek.

    How to hire a local Chef

    There are many ways to go about hiring a local Chef or a caterer. We’ve been working to make ordering a service through us as easy and care-free as possible.


    First thing’s first, right? All the preparation in the world means nothing if they aren’t available when you need them. Whether you need service for one meal, or you need ongoing service; what’s most important is that you make sure they are available when you need them to be.


    Now what it’s all about, the food. We all know on some level that the first bite of any meal is actually taken with the eyes. If a meal doesn’t look appealing, then nothing else matters. Read their bio and get to know them a little through that. Sure, really enjoying your Chef isn’t imperative, but its sure nice.


    Every company has their own rules as far as payment goes. Generally, we recommend at least 30% down to ensure the date and time was reserved and the final payment is made within 24 hours of the beginning of your service.


    Finally, please leave a review. Leave a review of your Chef, of Savor the Passion and your experience with us. Our goal is to make this platform huge and you empower us to make change that you want and that will make your experience better.