Personal Chef Equipment Shopping List
Personal chefs require different equipment than caterers. Since personal or private chefs typically use in-home noncommercial-grade equipment, smaller sized equipment suitable for cooking for two, four, or six people makes a better choice.
Personal chefs can set themselves apart from the competition much like caterers by offering specialized menus for clients. Decide whether you want to add a personalized touch to your business with your equipment, particularly if you specialize in the creation of a specific type of food, such as sushi.
If you cook in a client's home, you may be able to use their cookware. When you have your initial client meeting, take a full inventory of the pots, pans, casseroles, knives, gadgets, and measuring utensils. Some clients will have beautiful fully outfitted kitchens, and you'll only have to bring your recipes, the groceries, and storage containers. Other clients will be poorly equipped, and it will be worth your while to bring your own sauté pans, stockpots, and casserole dishes with you to ensure that the food cooks evenly and that you have the right equipment.
Since personal chefs have to transport equipment, select pieces that have multiple uses. Pie pans, for example, make great breading plates and cooking pans. Bus pans and hotel pans, as mentioned above, have dozens of uses. Additional staples for every personal chef include the following:
A wheeled cart for transporting pots and pans and heavy groceries.
Knives. Every professional chef needs her own knife set. Whether it's the same one you got in cooking school or a newer set, it's always better to use your own knives. You'll know how sharp they are and you'll be used to the handgrips.
A large, dependable food processor. They're great for chopping and mincing just about everything.
Cooking utensils. Always carry several pairs of tongs for sautéing and grilling. Carry a meat thermometer and a deep-fat thermometer. Also travel with a ladle, large stirring spoons, a spatula, and a large slotted spoon for draining.
Clean dishtowels, paper towels, potholders, and clean sponges.
Staples like seasoning salt, salt and pepper grinders, baking powder, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh parsley, and thickeners like cornstarch.
If you're used to cooking on thick stainless steel or anodized aluminum, for example, bring your own cookware. Your pots will be well seasoned, and you'll know what to expect from them. By using your own cookware, you'll have more to carry, but you won't be in danger of scratching or burning your clients' expensive cookware.
Even if you're cooking in a commercial kitchen and delivering your meals, you'll need to use regular home-sized pots and pans to cook most meals, since every client will have his own preference. Large, commercial-sized pots can be used to cook large amounts of rice, green beans, and other basic dishes for larger numbers of clients at one time.
Buy commercial-grade thermal storage bags or containers for transporting groceries in warm weather. You can buy foil-lined collapsible bags, or the larger Camcarriers mentioned above. You'll need a good supply of plastic or foil containers with lids for storing meals in the client's refrigerator or freezer. Restaurant supply companies carry these food-storage items and sell each size by the case. You can check styles, sizes, and prices at