Chefs applying sauces and garnishes to a salmon entrée at a client’s home.

Source: Christine Hyatt

The personal chef business is booming as more consumers choose to eat at home during the coronavirus pandemic, rather than at restaurants.

The virus is expected to cause the restaurant industry to lose $240 billion in sales this year, based on estimates from the National Restaurant Association. Lockdowns pushed many Americans to spend more time eating at home, whether it’s restaurant food delivery, at-home cooking or the fruit of a personal chef’s labor. 

“It’s unfortunate that Covid-19 has brought what we do to the surface, but I’m starting to see a lot of people who are looking at the personal chef and in-home dining experience as a great alternative to the dining experience as of now,” said Brian Driscoll, co-founder of the Glendale, Arizona-based personal chef company Driscoll Cuisine & Cocktail Concepts.

The United States Personal Chef Association estimates that there are between 5,000 and 6,000 personal chefs working nationwide. Personal chefs own their businesses, unlike private chefs, who are employees of a particular household.

According to Angela Prather, membership and partnership manager of the trade group, the personal chef industry started decades ago because of demand for outsourcing meal preparation. But special occasions have become a part of the business as well, and some — including Driscoll Cuisine — have opted to focus most of their efforts on attracting those customers.

The pandemic hit as the industry was in the middle of a boom, according to Prather, and has further accelerated the trend.

When restaurants began reopening for indoor and outdoor dining across the country, many consumers still felt uncomfortable partaking, particularly if they had underlying health conditions. While diners might know and trust the members of their party, they don’t know who