Chefs have always worked hard to provide great food and service. After the pandemic it was critical to create and add best practices to reduce the spread of respiratory diseases to protect the safety of the chef, the hosts and the guests they served. At HeyChef! we acted quickly and proactively to put our clients at ease and establish guidelines to create a safe work environment that addresses their concerns.
What Covid guidelines apply to private chef work?
Until now, best practices for private chef services to reduce the spread of infectious disease did not exist. Personal and private chefs are not regulated like restaurants and catering companies but safeguarding health at work during and after the pandemic is still a priority. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief because the best private chefs share a commitment with you to safeguard the health of everyone in your home.
The pandemic changed the way HeyChef! does business with our clients. And we didn’t keep these best practices to ourselves. HeyChef! was the first in the industry to publish our standard operating procedures and offer them to chefs and domestic service agencies nationwide.
You have questions. We have answers.
We understand that when you reserve the services of a private chef and waitstaff to come to your home you have questions. So our first rule of thumb is this: you can book with confidence if they have answers for you before you have to ask. When it comes to protecting your health, the company you hire should be: proactive, concerned, professional, and prepared.
We know that a complete plan of best safety practices is a three-part pie which involves:
Look to hire a professional who addresses all three. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to screen your guests for vaccinations and symptoms if you don’t also screen the staff serving them.
When chefs work in a residential kitchen, their safety is in their clients hands as much as your safety is in theirs. – Holly Verbeck, HeyChef!
Since health department regulations don’t govern activities in residential kitchens and the chefs and servers who work in them we adopted and adjusted the guidelines for restaurant, catering and health care industries to create a practical and conscientious guide to manage the home work environment. These guidelines include:
1. Discuss a plan and preferences for personal protective equipment with each client.
Customers need to feel safe and reassured about the staff who come into their home. Top private chef companies will seek a mutual understanding of the expectations and responsibilities you and their culinary team share for one another. Some clients request mask and gloves, others require neither; it’s their home, so it’s their choice. Note: Clients have the right to have staff wear masks even if the hosts and guests do not.
2. Determine the best match of staff for each home.
At this time, chefs, bartenders and servers are not required to be vaccinated for their profession as domestic staff. This also means not every staff member is suited for every household. Culinary professionals may elect to wear a mask even if it’s not requested by a client, but they do not have the right to refuse if the client has requested they do so. Their power lies in their choice to refuse work in a particular home if they feel the level of protection a client uses is inadequate. The key is to communicate expectations of both sides – before service begins.
The best match of chefs and staff, hosts and guests is between people who value similar levels of personal protection.
3. We encourage private chefs to offer rapid testing before serving their clients.
It’s commonplace for hosts to ask their guests to rapid test or stay home when they are sick, so we think it makes good sense to make rapid testing available for staff, if the client requests it. At HeyChef! We can facilitate and monitor testing for an additional charge. If your private chef doesn’t offer this it could be a sign they are overlooking other factors which affect your safety and health.
4. The best private chef companies train their talented team – and document it.
The chef, plus all individuals who work in the kitchen alongside the chef to serve or interact with others in the household should:
5. Private chef companies should confirm the health of the hosts and guests before service begins.
At HeyChef! We conduct a pre-service questionnaire with our team, and with our clients because our health is in your hands also.
6. Address special circumstances.
Yep, blowing out birthday candles shouldn’t be taken for granted. Working in a residential home is unique and every clients’ needs differ. Be prepared to have a conversation with your chef about you, the event, the indoor/outdoor work spaces and serving areas, the work surfaces, and the equipment, appliances and hand tools that will be used.
We once served a client whose granddaughter had life threatening allergies. Not only could she not eat certain foods, her allergies could be triggered by physical or aeresolized contact with the ingredients. Contact with a contaminated dish towel could be fatal. We were able to serve their family by carefully creating a menu and training staff on proper sanitation practices for all cookware, silverware, dishware or glassware that were used for the meal.
7. When high risk factors exist, have a back up plan.
It’s always disappointing when someone is sick and can’t come to your party. It’s more problematic though if the host or the chef is sick. No one wants to cancel a party and having a back up plan helps. At HeyChef! We work with a team of chefs. This separates us from other private chefs who work solo because if one of our chefs has symptoms or is confirmed sick, we can enact our back up plan and may be able to replace the chef without impacting your celebration. Not all private chefs can do this. Talk to your chef during the planning stages, especially if high risk factors exist in your household.
The best indication you’re working with the right private chef is the way they demonstrate concern for your health as well as their own. The conversation should be proactive, and you shouldn’t have to bring it up. This is your home, and you have the right to a thoughtful and thorough conversation about health and safety before they step foot in it. Conscientious chefs know what you need to feel comfortable and be safe; they will work to meet or exceed your expectations by addressing your concerns ahead of time and making accommodations.