Home-cooked meets haute cuisine: Personal chefs offer best of both

|     Khang Nguyen     |

STUTTGART, Germany (dpa) – Superb food, cooked especially for you, in the comfort of your own home? The appeal of hiring a personal chef isn’t hard to grasp.

Annette Gluecklich says interest in her business is booming. “Right now there’s a call every day,” said the personal chef from the German city Worms.

Gluecklich prepares meals right in front of her customers, in their own kitchens. For a main course, she might churn out, for example, a sous-vide saddle of venison with a port-wine jus, caramelised red cabbage and truffle-potato gratin.

It’s precisely that luxury factor that helps explain why the services of personal chefs, who would otherwise work at smaller family gatherings, are often given as gifts.

The concept is simple: For a given amount of money, a chef comes to your home, bringing the necessary utensils and ingredients, and cooks and serves the food. Sometimes kitchen clean-up is even included.

Oysters prepared by the German personal chef Annette Gluecklich are laid out at a birthday party in the city of Worms. The personal chef says interest in her business is booming and she gets calls daily
Personal chef Annette Gluecklich prepares dessert during a tasting in her apartment for customers interested in having her cook at a wedding. The personal chef says interest in her business is booming. – PHOTOS: DPA

The price depends on the desired ingredients and the number of people. “It’s not cheap fun,” said Gluecklich. On average, for two adults, you would expect to pay around $175 per person, she said, but for that each menu is customised. There is no upper limit.

That hefty price tag could explain why such presents are not in greater demand, despite the fact that other dining experiences and cooking courses are popular gifts, according to Jochen Schweizer, a German company that allows people to give each other experiences.

In the past three years, no significant increase in sales has been noted, according to a company spokesman.

Personal chef Eberhard Braun, 46, sees parallels to a cooking class when he visits his hosts’ homes.

In addition to the meal, his hosts want to learn how to cook better as well as experience something special, he says. Part of the appeal of having food professionally prepared for you at home is that you can escape the anonymity of a restaurant.

One of the most common questions Braun says he’s asked is how to make meat nice and tender. Braun, who also teaches cooking classes, said the answer is to shop right and cook at a suitable temperature.

From an employee perspective, the German chefs association (VKD) welcomes the trend, even though it’s still quite small.

“Chefs can negotiate the price individually and don’t necessarily have to work every day if there’s a high volume of orders,” says VKD Vice President Daniel Schade.

At the same time, Schade advises customers to have the costs clearly itemised.

“That way I can see: How much did the goods cost? How much am I paying for labour?”

German hotel and restaurant association Dehoga has no problem with the competition, as long as it’s fair.

What’s not acceptable is if some businesses constantly face new regulations and paperwork, while regulation-free areas are tolerated elsewhere, says spokeswoman Stefanie Heckel.

Due to the lack of statistics, it’s not possible to determine whether, and to what extent, restaurants lose business to such offers, she said.

For the moment, Dehoga sees the development positively amid a strong start to the holiday season in Germany.

Whether eating at a restaurant or hiring a personal chef for the home, it seems that there is enough to go around.