Career / Career Switch / Women Entrepreneurship

Alternative Careers: How To Become A Home Chef In India

. 12 min read . Written by Priyanka Sutaria
Alternative Careers: How To Become A Home Chef In India

In Alternative Careers, Kool Kanya explores unique and lesser-known fields to give you insight into a more adventurous world of livelihoods! In this guide, we’re discussing how to become a home chef in India.

Are you facing a burnout from your job which has ceased to go away and are looking for an alternate career. Here’s how to can make a career shift to becoming a home chef in India.

They say a woman’s place is in the kitchen, so why not profit off the stereotype?! And there is no better time to begin than now.

Why? Because we love the gastronomic joys of eating out and eating home-cooked food.

And the combination of the two is a prime opportunity for some industrious folks to turn this into an income generator by starting a home chef business. That’s right… Home chefs in India were already growing in numbers, but the tiny industry has boomed in 2020. It is set to only become bigger in 2021!

And if you have the cooking skills, business acumen and wherewithal, you too can start your own home chef business and become a home chef. Grab your aprons, aspiring home chefs, because this is just the guide for you!

Table Of Contents

What Is A Home Chef?

A home chef is someone who runs a food business out of their home, usually on a small scale as compared to dine-in or take-out restaurants.

Home chefs are usually individuals, or small groups of people (often within the family!) who work with the titular home chef to run the business. 

This tiny business unit takes care of setting a menu, sourcing the ingredients, making the food, marketing the venture, delivering the orders, and a variety of other tasks that fall under the umbrella of a home chef business.

Alternative Careers: home chef

Who Can Be A Home Chef?

To become a home chef, one needs to know what their food-related interests and skills are, and have an entrepreneurial bent of mind. Before you learn how to be a home chef, its important to know if you can even be one? And, the answer is yes, you can!

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of interests that can ease your way:

An Eye For The Goods Foods

It probably goes without saying, but you need to:

  1. Love food
  2. Love making food
  3. Make lovely food

A chef without a menu is like food without seasoning. To make a menu, one needs to know how to make great food, and how to put great food together in a composite menu.

An Interest In Entrepreneurship

As a home chef, you don’t need any commercial or professional food and beverage qualifications, but it definitely is desirable to have an entrepreneurial spirit. You are essentially starting out on your own and creating your own home chef business from home!

This means marketing, having interest in promoting and growing your business, keeping sales and accounts in order, and building strong customer relations.

Hygiene Consciousness

Whether or not you’re a home chef, everyone likes eating knowing that their food has been made keeping hygiene standards in mind. Especially in 2020. 

A good home chef will ensure that they find ways to translate those hygiene expectations and standards into their home kitchen. This means sanitised hands, tools and surfaces; ingredients cleaned and used well before expiry; and no human or pet hair!

How To Become A Home Chef In India?

Wondering “how do I start my own home chef business in India?” Well, read on to know!

To become a home chef in India, and a good one at that, here’s what you need to do. 

How To Start Out As A Home Chef In India

Like any other business, a home chef serious about their career must have a business plan and strategy. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start your own home chef business in India?

Alternative Careers: home chef
  1. Decide what food you want to sell, how and menu. Is it cuisine-specific? Perhaps it’s a course, such as snacks or desserts? Is it a set menu, or a la carte? Are you making food on order, or keeping a daily stock? Know these before you start your home chef business.
  2. Learn who your audience is. This will help you in making a small marketing budget, develop a marketing strategy, and also in how you deal with customers. Well, because it is a business after all! Why should things be different if its a home chef business?
  3. Research your competitors. Home chefs are on the rise, and it’s a good idea to put in the effort and make your business stand out from the crowd. Check out their marketing, pricing, display and delivery systems.
  4. Make a list of your expenditures. You will have to make a small amount of investment for your business to pay for ingredients, packaging, and anything else.
  5. Create a branding strategy. How you present yourself to the world, and to potential customers, matters. Here’s a quick guide to building a brand story for your home chef business.

Research: Chron

Now, you are ready to start setting up your shop!

Processes To Set Up Your Home Chef Business

We spoke to Ahvanya Sharma who runs Kitchen AVZ, who gave us insight into setting up a home chef business. Here are the steps you need to follow to have a successful home chef career.

1. Build Menu: After you have decided what you are going to focus on in terms of food, work on trying and testing menus. You can use recipe blogs and Instagram pages for inspiration, and your own imagination to see what works best for your business. Start with something basic, and you can expand your menu as your business grows and the business model in sacrosanct!

Pro tip: Get your family and friends to be guinea pigs for your menu experiments.

2. List Out Your Inventory: Once you have your menu, you’ll need to make a list of everything you will need to make your business run smoothly. This includes ingredients for each dish, how to store and use them, equipment you will require, packaging and branding materials, and anything else.

Make sure you maintain an excel sheet with all this information and update it as and when there are any changes.

3. Set Up Your Store Front: Think of a name for your business, and create either a website or a business account on Instagram. You can use the app’s business features, such as user insights and promotions, to your advantage. Making a unique logo is also a must!

Plus, make branding materials such as logo stickers, menu cards, business cards, and packaging made. You can get all of these designed by a professional on the Kool Kanya Marketplace.

Alternative Careers: home chef

4. Register Your Home Chef Business: Do you need register your home chef business? Yes, and on the Food Safety Compliance System (FoSCoS) website, and get a basic license. This is now mandatory for any food and beverage business in India, including home-based ones.

The documents needed are listed below.

5. Take Good Photos: You will need to make samples of the dishes on your menu, and take decent quality images. To learn how to take good photos, you can watch some simple YouTube tutorials on photographing. Photograph the items you wish to sell against a plain, clean background in natural light. They help to market your work and grow your home chef business.

6. Figure Out Stock And Delivery: Make sure you have your vendors lined up for ingredients and packaging, and that your delivery system is ready to well deliver. Whether you need customers to come pick their food up, or you are partnering with a local service, or you are making the deliveries yourself; figure it out early on. These are nitty gritties that you need to become confortable with in order to become a home chef in India.

7. Set Up Payment Methods: You can set up a business UPI account to carry out transactions for your business as a home chef as they are the easiest way to conduct business. Another option is to request online bank transfers, if customers do not have a UPI app.

8. Start Spreading The Word: After building a menu, start marketing your business by asking family and friends to recommend your food to their networks. You can also share your Insta page or website on your personal social media. Make sure delivery prices are also mentioned.

Pro tip: Make a PDF or JPEG version of your menu, and broadcast it to your local WhatsApp contacts.

9. Get Cooking And Get Your Orders Out: Once you have started getting orders, make sure you are ready to get going. Make sure you are disciplined, dedicated, and willing to take on the stress of a kitchen job. You can add personalised touches with handwritten notes, illustrations and more with the orders to give your customers the full home chef experience!

10. Be Your Own Customer Service: Home chefs are different from chefs in a restaurant, because they are the point of contact for all aspects of the business. This includes maintaining a relationship with customers. 

Making sure that you let your customers know that the order is out for delivery, and taking the time to hear their concerns and reviews can help you do better and build a loyal clientele.

(Continue reading below.)

How To Register Your Home Chef Business: Documents, Process, Cost, Etc.

In order to become a home chef in India, you need to register your business.

If you are earning less than ₹12 lakh per annum, you will require an FSSAI Basic Registration. On the website, you have to create a user ID and open a new application. Select the type of business you are setting up, and check your eligibility. Next, select Form A or B to fill in, depending on your business

Here are all the documents you need to register a home chef business in India or for your application for a home chef business.

Upload the following self-attested documents for home chef business registration:

  1. Form A or Form B (Form A for Basic FSSAI Registration & Form B for State and Central FSSAI Registration) complete and signed
  2. 2 Passport Sized Photographs
  3. PAN Card of the FBO Owner/Proprietor/Partner/Director,
  4. Proof of Possession of the Premises (Property Papers if the property is owned, Utility bills (Electricity or water) or Rent Agreement if the property is on rent)
  5. Partnership Deed
  6. Certificate of Incorporation or Articles of Association (AOA) in case of a company
  7. The complete list of food items the unit will be processing
  8. The complete FSMS (Food Safety Management System) plan (applicable for FSSAI State or Central Food License only)

Here is the full list with all details.

Add the acceptance of declaration and pay the fee. Here is the fee structure as provided by the FoSCoS.

Finally, wait for your application to be processed and check on it until it goes through.

Alternative Careers: home chef

What Does A Home Chef Do On A Day-To-Day Basis?

Just because you’re not running a restaurant kitchen doesn’t mean your job is more relaxed. It’s a good idea to know what being a home chef entails. Its interesting to see what a day in the life of a home chef is like.

On a daily basis, a home chef would be:

  1. Taking stock and keeping a check on inventory.
  2. Prepping for the day’s menu by getting ingredients ready.
  3. Cooking, cooking and more cooking.
  4. Fielding customer enquiries and taking orders.
  5. Packing and preparing orders for delivery.
  6. Cleaning and sanitising the kitchen and equipment as required.
  7. Photographing dishes and making menu updates.
  8. Uploading products on Instagram and engaging with potential customers.
  9. Updating the business master doc with details of products and payments.
  10. Tallying accounts, and making sure expenses and income are in order.
  11. Speaking with customers to check on deliveries, getting feedback and collecting reviews.

How To Grow Your Home Chef Business

Like every business, running a home chef also requires one to scale up; whether horizontally or vertically. And, hence it is important to ask how to grow your home chef business, after a point.

Horizontal scaling up would be expanding one’s customer base to reach a larger audience, create a loyal clientele, and build the hype around your business. On the other hand, vertical scaling up would be expanding one’s menu to sell more products and make more profits.

To do this, one has to first find clients and then explore the scope of your home chef business.

How To Get Orders For Your Home Chef Business

Set aside a small marketing budget, and market your website or Instagram page with a fully-loaded menu by creating a reach campaign and get followers. You can also learn how to build an organic audience for your business ‘ads’ free using this guide (it’s all about geo-tagging, hashtags and consistent posting!). Do not worry all of this will work out once a business revenue model is working full fleged.

Alternative Careers: home chef

Once you make a couple of sales, upload reviews and positive responses on your website, or Instagram stories and make a highlight. Make sure you follow up on your clients, because building that one-on-one relationship with them is key to keep them coming back.

Join local Facebook and WhatsApp groups for entrepreneurs and foodies, and promote your business there. You can also reach out to local micro influencers, and send them samples from your menu to reach a wider customer base.

You could also reach out to pages who curate and review local food, and introduce yourself kindly and request a shout out.

What Is The Scope Of Becoming Home Chef In India?

Alternative Careers: home chef

As the economy opens up, it’s a great idea to branch out and take your business from home to public spaces. (Safely, of course!)

You can host limited edition special menus; partner up with other home chefs (think home meals with dessert specialists, snack maker with beverage seller, etc.; cater to sizable parties and start a full-fledged cloud-kitchen business.

Home chef businesses can also look into home food delivery services like The Yummy Idea, Rotee, Oota Box and Food Cloud

You could eventually build a marketplace with fellow home chefs, and (once it’s safe again) host in-person pop-ups. 

Keep the following investments in mind while expanding your home chef business:

  1. Overheads on rent (equipment and storage), utilities (electricity and water), and taxes 
  2. Cleaning service (you can link up with a local vendor to get it done at a discounted price) every month to make your kitchen spick-and-span
  3. Packaging and branding material in wholesale (bags, stickers, receipts, etc.)
  4. Marketing and promotional budget (website, social media presence, ads, etc.)
  5. A photographer on an assignment basis
  6. A website designer on an assignment basis
  7. An accountant
Alternative Careers: home chef

How Much Does A Home Chef Earn?

Perhanps one of the most relevant aspects of opening a business, its important to know how much does a home chef earn? Or how is being a home chef as a career?

Ahvanya says that pricing is the toughest and most mind-bending part of being a home chef. She goes on to add that a home chef can make a profit margin of anywhere between 30%-40% with an investment anywhere between ₹10,000 to ₹30,000.

InvestmentProfit Margin/ Earning
₹10,00030% of investments (approx)
₹30,00040% of investments (approx)

The cost of each dish should include the base cost (including ingredients, delivery and overheads) + the value you place on your labour.

Taxes For Home Chef Business

It is recommended to keep a well-maintained accounts book if you take your home chef career seriously, because if you are earning anything upwards of ₹50,000 a month, you will have to disclose your income for tax purposes.

A love for food and being a dab hand in the kitchen is not just hobby material. You can actually make a career shift to becoming a chef, or have a home chef career!

No longer do you have to daydream about opening your own restaurant. No longer do you have to wait for friends to come over for you to try out that recipe you’ve been saving.

So enter that kitchen, and go from home cook to becoming a home chef.

With all this in mind, and all the information we have put together in this guide, we hope you will venture into the world of alternate career paths armed with the knowledge and skills to succeed!

Additional contribution: Shayri Bhattacharya

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