Cooking is one of the professions where the inequality between women and men is most pronounced. Only 6% of chefs in France are female. However, many women working as private chefs can be found online. Female chefs – read here more.

Cooking is one of the professions in which gender inequality is greatest. In France, just 6% of chefs are women. However, visit private chef websites and you will find that this imbalance is less pronounced. We decided to meet up with female chef Nadia Khemir, who told us a little bit about her world. She has been cooking in people’s homes for five years now. As a chef she applies all the knowledge she has acquired during her professional career. This allows her to offer her clients anything they want. We were very excited to hear more about her career and daily life.

TO BEGIN WITH, LUCK WAS HER PASSION

Nadia, a Parisian woman from Tunisia, was raised in a family with a strong cooking tradition. Her father was a famous chef, and her grandmother a private cook to the Tunisian president Bourguiba. When encouraged to consider career options early on, Nadia opted for a vocational baccalaureate qualification in secretarial skills and accounting. She tells us that this choice left her feeling dissatisfied, so she decided to move in a new direction. To this end, she took part in various professional orientation fairs and made the acquaintance of figures who were to have a decisive influence on her future choice of job. Chefs like John Paul Ledanoix talked about their craft with such passion that it opened her eyes. Later on, her path became clearer. She completed her vocational training with stints at Le Petit Bofinger, a Parisian specialist in luxury banquets, before being hired as an assistant and climbing the ladder to become chef de partie in the space of one year.

FROM GRAND HOTEL TO FINE DINING AT WORLD-FAMOUS ESTABLISHMENTS

Somewhat tired of banquets and her catering work, Nadia then applied her talent and expertise to work her way through various major Parisian hotels, but also locations in Switzerland and aboard cruise ships. “I never stayed for more than a year, but the variety of the culinary arts and the many different encounters I had allowed me to amass an indispensable wealth of experience and knowledge, which proved decisive for my later career.” Having spent most of her time as chef de partie or sous-chef, Nadia found that her network had become so extensive that she was able to combine these enriching experiences.

NETWORK OF FEMALE CHEFS

What’s more, she even held the position of head chef on a number of cruise liners and at private restaurants. Nadia also worked as a chef at the famous Parisian restaurant Triumph. “The world of cooking is a small one where everyone knows each other. This world didn’t need Facebook to weave its web. If you are good cook, then you will always have somebody recommending you for this or that job.” Nadia’s career in major hotels spanned a decade in total. In 2009, however, having reached an age when she was ready to challenge herself, she gradually began to develop her own personal project.

COOKERY COURSES AS A SPRINGBOARD FOR FEMALE CHEFS

At this point, Nadia decided to start giving cookery classes. This was well and truly in fashion in the late 2000s, and many projects flourished. She spent four years working for “cook and go” and “the culinary lab”, and believes that this experience complemented what she had already achieved perfectly. Furthermore, the social environment of cookery classes is ideal for meeting all sorts of people. “More and more people hired me for dinner and private parties, and many friends suggested that I become self-employed.” Nadia’s diary soon began to fill up, and the transition to an independent career came more or less naturally. “I had been on sick leave for a very long time and examined all the possibilities I had to realise my personal project. I discovered the Groupon-style booklets and noticed that there was no competition in this area. So I founded my business.” As it happens, Nadia was perfectly in step with the times. Among the pioneers of personal chef services, she took up the momentum of a trend that was to become entrenched in the era.

PERSONAL CHEF IN PARIS: TOURISTS AND PRIVATE HOMES, SMALL AND LARGE BUSINESSES

Success was not long in coming. The two well-known platforms “La Belle Assiette” and “invite1chef” were set up in 2012, setting the pace for the personal chef trend. “Of course, I still have my profile on those sites, but I have turned off the calendar function. I have no use for it in the next few months.” When asked what kind of audiences she deals with as a personal chef in Paris, Nadia responds that audiences are highly varied. In fact, the network woven during the earlier stages of her career has resulted in more encounters and potential clients. Nor does she underestimate the role of online platforms in her success, at least initially. Such portals are a safe bet for foreign tourists looking for a personal chef.

FEMALE CHEFS WHO COOK IN YOUR HOME

The use of customer ratings and the fact that the sites are offered in various languages actually makes the process easier. “Many customers contact me via Facebook,” she adds. We asked Nadia to list some of her experiences with foreign tourists. “Guests book me most often in their hotel suite, but bookings on rented houseboats aren’t unusual either. The majority of foreign tourists are American, English, Spanish and Canadian. They want to enjoy a truly special experience and book a chef for the evening of their arrival or before their departure. In most cases, the groups range from four to six people. Reservations for two are fairly common as well, and depending on the situation a group might be up to 30 people in size.” Nadia always cooks alone, but she employs staff to provide the service.

VERSATILE FEMALE CHEFS

Nadia can do almost anything. When her clients book her, it is they who choose the tableware. Although she trained in traditional French cuisine, her vast experience and many encounters have led her to work with most types of cooking. She has a certain affinity for Mediterranean cuisine due to her family background, and also excels at preparing Italian dishes. World cuisine, Creole, Asian… Anything can be on the menu when you book Nadia. Just ask. Let’s take a look at some of her creations.