How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Private Chef?

Shot of a young chef decorating meal in the kitchen.
bernardbodo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Imagine this.

You spend the afternoon at the beach, soaking up the summer sun. By the time 4 p.m. rolls around, you walk back to your waterfront mansion, and dinner is already on the table. It’s a full three-course meal, prepared by a Michelin-rated private chef.

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This is the reality for the ultra-wealthy, but how much would something like this actually cost?

In this article, we’ll break down the cost of hiring a private chef, and detail what is included in their services.

Private Chef vs. Personal Chef

It’s important to note first that a private chef may differ from a personal chef. A personal chef may work for several clients, and prepare meals in advance to cater to various clients, while a private chef is typically an exclusive worker who only works for you.

Make Your Money Work for You

A private chef will typically cook all meals for you, and serve many of them immediately, while a personal chef may prepare food at home and it is more like a personalized meal prep service.

A personal chef will cost a lot less than a dedicated private chef (starting at $30 an hour or so).

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Private Chef?

The cost for a private chef can vary widely. For example, the cost to have a private chef cook six different small-family entrees can run from $100 to $400, according to Fash. This includes meal planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning, as well as transportation costs.

The amount you pay will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Location
  • Number of meals
  • Number of persons to cook for
  • In-house or delivered
  • Services included (menu planning, food prep, shopping, cleaning)
  • Part-time or full-time needs

Costs are much higher in “high-cost-of-living” areas, and the more meals being prepared, the higher the overall cost will be.

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How Much Does a Full-Time Private Chef Cost?

If you are looking for a dedicated private chef to cook all of your meals, this could cost you upwards of $60,000 per year in salary, according to Chefs for Seniors, and that doesn’t include grocery costs. This includes full-time employment, planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning for all meals (including snacks). This means three meals a day, or about 90 meals per month.

Make Your Money Work for You

Some full-time chefs will also require lodging if they are “live-in” staff, though you may be able to get a discount on their overall salary in this case. Costs will vary by location and needs.

Least Expensive Private Chef Cost

Some private chef services can cost around $45 per person. How much you can save depends on the duties of the chef. While most private chef services are all-inclusive, if you simply need meal prep services or just a few meals per week, you can find lower-cost private chef services by working with a personal chef instead.

Personal chef services cost a lot less than a private chef (as low as $30 an hour), so a personal chef may be a better option if you are looking for customized meal plans and meal prep.

Most Expensive Private Chef Cost

A full-time dedicated private chef can cost up to $150,000 or more per year just for salary and benefits, which does not include grocery costs. Locations like Los Angeles and New York City will command a much higher cost for private chef staff.

Make Your Money Work for You

According to a private chef agency, the most they charge for an eight-person meal is $2,000, which comes out to $250 per person.

Bottom Line

Hiring a private chef can be one of life’s most expensive luxuries, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a wide range of costs, and it all depends on your dining needs.

Personal chef services can be as low as $30 an hour, and you can also find part-time meal prep services for even less.

But if you want a dedicated full-time private chef, be prepared to fork out at least $60,000 per year (plus benefits).

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About the Author

"As a nationally-recognized personal finance writer for the past 8 years, Jacob Wade has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Hedge With Crypto, Investopedia, Money Under 30, and other widely-followed sites. He has also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance. His  background includes five years as an Enrolled Agent at an accredited CPA firm, where I prepared tax returns for individuals and small businesses."
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