Hey Folks. I am currently embarking on a major career change. After 11 years as an investigator for the FBI, I am leaving to do what I love most - cooking. I want to start a business doing personal caterering/chef services on a small scale, cooking food for groups ranging from romantic dinner for two to dinner party for 12, and not much bigger. I want to keep it small, high-end, and gourmet. The business will include cooking dinner for clients who have the money to spend on someone coming into their home and cooking their family dinners five days a week because they themselves don't have the knowledge/ability/patience/imagination to do it themselves. That's the "chef services" part.
I do a ton of cooking and entertaining at home and I've caterered events as large as 50 people by myself; but beyond whatever knowledge and skills I possess on my own, I do not have any formal training. On one of my two days off from the Bureau, I currently "stodge," or apprentice in the kitchen of a major restaurant owned by a big-time chef in Philadelphia. I plan on doing that for a year. When the time arrives to start my business and build a clientele, I will cite this apprenticeship for credibility. In addition to that, however, I want tobe able to cite some formal credential in the way of cooking.
After mild investigation, I've learned that there are organizations out there that, after multi-day seminars/conferences/courses, one can earn a certification as a "personal chef." I learned of two organizations: The United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA), and the American Personal and Private Chef Institute and Association. Does anyone have any familiarity with these organizations, or any other credible organizations? Are these organizations valuable or a waste of money? Is my plan a smart one? Any tips from experienced personal chefs/caterers? How important is having a full-blown culinary degree in this line of work? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.