GRCC culinary institute to offer new career options for chef entrepreneurs

In February, Grand Rapids Community College will offer its inaugural training through the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education for culinary students who want to become personal or private chefs.

Candy Wallace, founder of San Diego-based American Personal and Private Chef Association (APPCA) spoke to GRCC culinary students this week about The Personal and Private Chef Certification Class and the career options available, such as becoming a private chef for one client or becoming a personal chef for several clients.

"Many second-career culinary students want to be a personal or private chef, a food writer, or have other involvement," Wallace says. "I created APPCA about 20 years ago for myself because I never wanted to cook in another restaurant and never wanted another employee, but still wanted to cook for a living, wanted to cook for private clients but not just one client."

GRCC's course provides training in traditional culinary skills as well as in sanitation, nutrition, marketing and writing a business plan. It will offer personal chef certification. Established chefs will have an option to take a two-day course for the certification. GRCC is the only public institution offering this course through the APPCA, Wallace says.

Audrey Heckwolf, a former private chef for the Dick and Betsy DeVos family and owner of Grand Rapids-based Urban Chef, is a culinary instructor at GRCC and will teach the class. Heckwolf says that women chefs often find that the demands of restaurant kitchens – working during dinner hours, evenings, holidays, poor pay – force them to leave the profession once they start raising families.

"I have an 18-month-old and 10-week-old and I still have my own consulting business and coordinate and teach cooking classes," she says. "I can put the cooking on hiatus, but do the consulting and classes as they fit my schedule.

"As a personal chef, you can decide what your personal chef business looks like," she says, "whether it's food styling, food critic, cookbook author or event planning."
Source: Randy Sahajdack and Audrey Heckwolf, Grand Rapids Community College; Candy Wallace, American Personal and Private Chef Association

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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