Christian Paier has combined his cooking expertise and business savvy to launch a one of a kind company which connects private chefs with high profile households. His career as a chef spans thirty years, and his extensive understanding has allowed him to thrive in a highly competitive industry.
Paier launched his agency Private Chefs when he worked as a private chef for a billionaire in Beverly Hills. During his time in the job he noticed a gap in the market.
“I met lots of A-list celebrities and high-profile people through my employer’s dinner parties,” explained Paier. “It made me realise there was a real need for an agency that specialises in private chefs only.”
He then underwent intensive research before finally launching Private Chefs Inc in 1995. It was a hard road for Paier to build a successful business, and he was met with strong opposition along the way.
“People were literally laughing in my face for starting this agency because no one believed there were enough private households that employed full-time private chefs,” said Paier. But the accomplished chef was sure of his instincts, and his perseverance paid off. Private Chefs has seen dramatic expansions since its launch. The company now occupies nine offices on three different continents around the world, a milestone that Paier never thought possible, and his chefs have cooked for countless celebrities including (but not limited to) Bill Gates, Oprah, Michael Jordan, Madonna, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, George Lucas, John Travolta, Tina Turner, P Diddy, Kim Kardashian, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Tom Clancy, Tom Hanks, Ralph Lauren and Steven Spielberg. Paier himself has cooked for Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery, Rupert Murdoch and a long list of people he isn’t allowed to mention.
Private Chefs aims to introduce talented cooks to a new genre of work while weeding out unsuitable applicants for employers to provide both parties with fresh opportunities. Chefs with at least eight years’ experience as a private chef or sous chef in a top-level restaurant can submit their resume for review with the company. They will then undergo rigorous background and personality tests to ensure the private sector is the right fit for them. While private service can offer some fantastic perks, it is not the right fit for everyone.
“They need to have a certain level of sophistication because they interact with lots of high-profile guests and friends of their employer,” said Paier. “They also have to be a team player and be as friendly to the maids and gardener as he is to the house manager, not every chef can adjust to that dynamic because they are used to bossing people around.”
There are a lot of unique challenges associated with being a private chef. One high-profile rock band requested a chef covered in tattoos, while other chefs have had to deal with nudist clients, being sought out by a fashion designer for having a certain ‘look’, or being sought out for being especially unattractive.
“Being available at the drop of a hat and being able to deal with last-minute changes are crucial,” explains Paier. Sourcing high-quality ingredients and understanding how to cook on a private jet are skills which any private chef must master.
Despite the trials, Paier talks fondly about his time as a Private Chef and feels strongly about the career opportunities that await cooks who are looking to enter the private sector. “Overall a private chef career can be very rewarding. With lots of time off and perks such as Christmas bonuses, gifts and on average the pay is 30 to 40 percent higher in the private service than in a commercial setting.”