Chefly is so relevant right now. Lots of chefs are starting to embrace this model because there is a higher demand than usual for private dining experiences - as a result of COVID-19 - but also because Australians feel more comfortable dining at home. They don't want to compromise on the gastronomic experience that they would enjoy in a restaurant, so hiring a private cook to create a delicious meal in the comfort of their own home is the ideal scenario. It is a win-win for the chef and the diner!
In a restaurant, you might really enjoy the food, but not feel at ease with the environment, the noise level, or the service. You also need to consider those people who are elderly, disabled or injured and do not have the same access to dining in a restaurant. When I worked as a private chef for an elderly lady who struggled to walk far or go up the stairs, someone in the family was celebrating their birthday and decided to have it at home, with a private chef. It meant that the elderly grandmother could also be there to enjoy it. It is moments like this that make dining at home such a LUXURY.
Private dining experiences also give the diner more flexibility on the menu, cuisine and even the number of courses they want to consume. Foods can truly be cooked to their taste and dietary requirements because they can discuss and agree on the menu with the chefs directly beforehand.
Chefly is an unconventional way of cheffing, but I would give other culinary professionals the same encouragement I gave myself at the start when I was a little uncertain. That is: private cheffing is the best way for a chef to express themselves, and to showcase their strengths and creativity. When you work in a restaurant you are confined to doing only what is required in that kitchen. Pasta making and cooking with fish are my strengths and that is what I am most passionate about. But if I work at a meat grill restaurant my abilities are wasted and my creativity is limited.
As a private chef, you can also pass on to your diners, the knowledge, the history and inspiration for dishes originating from your culture. I introduced one of my clients to the Pastiera Napoletana, a dessert that is traditionally made around Easter time in Naples. My clients had never heard of it before and were ecstatic when they tasted it.
What could be scary for chefs is the fact that you are dealing with your clients alone - with no colleagues to help you or advise when times get tough. It is just you and your personality. I think you need to have an outgoing, open personality and be able to talk about the dishes that you are preparing for them - the ingredients, the history, why you are using them.
Take the client on a journey with you, and create an experience around the food that they are part of. It comes fairly natural to me now because I enjoy talking, but not everyone is like this. In fact, many chefs who have always worked in large kitchens are used to focusing on their tasks, they do not talk much, so being forced to talk to clients as part of the job may feel intimidating. This might be hard initially, it requires pushing you out of your comfort zone, but as you practice, your confidence will grow. My suggestion would be for an aspiring private chef to start practising with their family and friends with whom they are comfortable.