Lately, we’ve been discussing the option of renting a commercial kitchen to be able to grow your personal chef business. Last week, we focused on the pros and cons of renting space, as well as what to look for. Well, this week we have a completely different and wonderfully original approach to the “kitchen issue.” Welcome APPCA member Adreeanna Black of Bistro from Home in Idaho, who, in a guest post below, will introduce us  to her solution: her way cool commercial kitchen trailer.

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Bistro at Home owner Chef Adreeanna Black (front) with general manager Alyssa Lucero in their commercial kitchen trailer

While trying to search for a commercial kitchen because business has been overwhelmingly busy and cooking for all my clients in one day is much easier then going to each home, I, too, ran into the same issue. We had two incubator kitchens in our city. One unfortunately shut down due to inactivity and the other was so costly I was hardly meeting my profit margins. I thought perhaps we could turn our garage into a commercial kitchen and just choke down the cost and time that would be needed to build it. I knew we needed a kitchen to maintain the business, but at what point does the expense out weigh the need?

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While I  was crunching numbers and frantically trying to figure this all out, I was approached by a family friend to look into a food trailer. I was rather concerned with the idea and was convinced creating a commercial kitchen in the home was our only option. While I did not think I would have wanted anything mobile or want to deal with all the problems that may come with something like a kitchen trailer, we went ahead and looked at this other option.

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Let me tell you, this was the best decision I have made in my entire life! We purchased this trailer which turned out to be almost fully equipped, extremely functional, and with two days work into fixing some plumbing and gas line issues, she was up and running and ready to be thrown into the personal chef grind. The very same week, last week, we had a catering job for 350 people. Even though the work load was much more then preparing meals for my clients, the overall experience was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. This week meal planning and preparing has been such a difference in comparison to the previous months. Being able to prepare ahead of time, store, and assemble has been the biggest money saver. I am now a proud owner of a commercial kitchen trailer. The best part about having one of these is free advertisement! The kitchen is a licensed mobile commercial kitchen. 

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You may be wondering what the cost of the trailer has been thus far. It is a 14-foot trailer with five sinks, diamond steel plated floors and back splash, a 24-inch flat top, a 30-inch sandwich station, a 20-pan dual door food warmer, 50-gallon fresh water reserve, 75-gallon gray water reserve, and ample storage space.  

Trailer: $13,750

Licensing: $150

Exterior improvements: $60

Interior- plumbing and gas line: $45

We will be needing a small range which is about $1700.

While the numbers may seem steep we’ve made $2318 off this week alone. 

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If you weigh the costs, the trailer was a “small” fee to pay to be able to free up time and make money through convenience. I understand the need for a commercial kitchen and having something available to be able to keep up with your work load. Maybe something like this would be worth looking into. I can have the trailer parked anywhere. Because we do not use it for resale or retail and only for food production there are really no limitations–also another reason why I can hang a banner on the side. Plus, the previous owners of this trailer had bought it when it was a utility trailer. The cost of mobile commercial kitchens can be very expensive if bought through kitchen companies. Something that is custom built is usually cost effective and will be approved for state licensing if guidelines are followed for a “standard” commercial kitchen. 

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Prior to becoming an APPCA member I worked in restaurants for years. So having the experience of working “the line” I know how tight yet functional a kitchen can be. This commercial kitchen trailer is no different except it’s way more functional in the aspects of mobility and convenience! Here in Sandpoint,  Idaho the market for personal chefs is untouched. Given the reputation and experience I’ve had with the local restaurants, word is getting out and a couple of fantastic sous chefs I’ve had the pleasure of working with are very interested in what I have going on. With that in mind we–my newly appointed general manager Alyssa Lucero and I–have decided that we can make this commercial kitchen trailer a benefit to our community. We’re creating a mobile incubator commercial kitchen. We’ve been able to team up with a lot of other community establishments and have big plans for the future. My biggest goal for this kitchen for the coming months is to be able to share the value and convenience with other personal chefs and collaborate with our local restaurants to do cooking classes and venues.

I truly feel that if personal chefs from all around only knew how simple and efficient this concept is, their profits and convenience would quadruple in a matter of a couple of months. Currently I work at a Starbucks part time (the benefits are great!), am attending Escoffier Online (Thanks, APPCA, for the great discount! ), am a mother of two boys, and am able to run my business (Bistro At Home) efficiently, effectively, and successfully! Having the convenience of a mobile commercial kitchen and being within my reach with hardly any overhead cost is so fantastic.

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Are you considering renting space in a commercial or other kitchen? What do you think of this concept? What has your experience been?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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Caron Golden

About 

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

1 Comment »

  1. Andy is great! Her bright smiling face and can-do spirit is such an inspiration! We love her here in Sandpoint, Idaho and I look forward to watching her soar!! (Alyssa is pretty amazing, too!)

    Comment by Kelly — September 22, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

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