7 Side Business and Project Ideas for Professional Chefs

By admin / November 18, 2020

Food is one of the four most essential needs of humans. Along with water, shelter, and clothing, food is something that no man, woman, adult, or child can live without.

As such, the food industry is deemed one of the most profitable sectors worldwide. Of course, this isn’t the only reason why chefs have plenty of career paths to choose from. This industry also brings together a person’s passion, cultural expression, and creativity into a single, mouthwatering plate.

When you become a certified chef, you also gain access to dozens of opportunities. Besides working in a restaurant, you can also launch a food truck business or even have your very own YouTube show. The possibilities are endless, but it pays to know some of the best options for side businesses or projects available today.

Pop-Up Restaurants

Pop-up restaurants became quite popular in recent years. They “pop up” just about anywhere, for one night, several days, or even an entire week. Because of the limited time of availability, these food businesses provide novel dining experiences for customers that most established eateries have a difficult time competing with.

Because of their nature, pop-up restaurants don’t have the same fixed costs as long-term establishments. This makes them perfect for testing restaurant concepts and the feasibility of doing business in a certain area.

From there, you can begin creating a brand identity that would determine how you want to be seen and what perceptions to leave your customers. Then, you can upgrade a pop-up restaurant into a full-time food establishment.

Ready-to-Cook Meals Shop

People who have worked in the catering field would do well in this side-gig.

Most restaurant-goers and food delivery customers are people who are too busy to make their own meals from scratch. Capitalizing on this fact, ready-to-cook meals shops offer meal packages that include an array of appetizers, entrees, and desserts that suit their target customers’ tastes.

When starting this type of business, it would help to know several different themes and cuisines. This way, you can create anything from Mediterranean fare to Australian barbecue meals that your customers crave, for example.

Gourmet Popcorn

Where there are movies, there is popcorn. This means that popcorn stands will always have a place in people’s hearts.

But why stop there? If you can make something very common like popcorn unique and flavorful, then do it. This is what gourmet popcorn is good for.

This type of food business serves popcorn in a wide array of flavors. From the most common ones such as caramel, cheddar, and chocolate to unique and obscure tastes like Buffalo wing, pizza, and Oreo, gourmet popcorns can become a lucrative business when executed correctly.

If you’re particularly passionate about popcorn and are fond of experimenting in the kitchen, then this kind of business is perfect for you.

Catering Business

If you have a knack for hosting parties and serving food that guests like (even during private events at your house), then you’ll do well in the catering business.

Whether or not you studied how to cook in school, you can still try venturing into this foodservice niche. Of course, you’ll have more knowledge about the trade if you did take cooking classes.

Cooking Channel

Who says you need to cook for other people to earn money in the food business?

Contrary to what most people think, cooking for yourself and making a living in the food industry is possible, thanks to the Internet.

One way to achieve this seemingly impossible feat is by launching your own cooking channel on YouTube. This video-sharing platform can become a bottomless well of revenue when used wisely, regardless of the subject of the videos.

As a skilled chef, you can offer your expertise with a series of easy-to-follow and highly motivating cooking videos.

Use your creativity and look for topics that connect with various audiences. Regular posting also ensures consistent viewership.

Cookbook Publishing

Like posting cooking tutorials on YouTube, publishing recipes and cookbooks is now very easy because of modern technology. Nowadays, you no longer need to look for publishers willing to get your recipes printed and distributed to the masses.

With the help of platforms like Lulu and Amazon Publishing (and, of course, a stable internet connection and reliable PC), you can easily spread the word about a delicious ravioli recipe you accidentally invented while trying out dishes in your home kitchen.

You can make your electronic cookbook even more appealing with mouthwatering photos. You can capture images as you make the dish or, if this isn’t possible, use pictures from Creative Commons and several other royalty-free platforms that offer photos and clips instead. And don’t forget to get your own desktop editing suite.

Food Truck Business

As the name implies, food truck businesses are restaurants operating inside a “truck.” Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to an actual truck. It can also be a van or trailer, as long as it can fit a mobile kitchen and a small serving space.

Most food truck businesses start with the owner preparing the menu items for customers. They require less manpower compared to traditional restaurants and food establishments. This is why it is one of the most appealing business ventures to pro chefs who want to start working independently.

When you tread this path in the culinary world, you need to have an innate love for foodservice and customer relations. You must also be detail-oriented and keen in observing everything that happens in and around your food truck.

As with any other job, experience is quite advantageous. Running a food truck business would be less daunting if you have tried preparing food in a commercial kitchen in the past. Remember that cooking for yourself or your family doesn’t count (unless, of course, you have a family-run restaurant), as commercial kitchens run quite differently.

You’ll also need to learn proper ingredient storage to prevent losses from spoiled ingredients and create a menu that will attract diners. Apart from that, you’ll also need to do your homework on the permits required to run food trucks where you live and develop a brand image and unique offering that will make first-time customers want to buy your food.

Find Your Business

Whether you’re a professional chef or a novice cook dreaming of making it big in the food industry, finding the right business that fits your style and personality determines your chances to succeed. Try out several of the business and project ideas listed in this article until you figure out which one is the best for you.


Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.

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