Mistakes home chefs make

Common Mistakes Home Chefs Make that Affect their Business

Home Chefs and home cooking businesses are on the rise in the United States, and understandably so because of the growing awareness to eat more healthily prepared home-cooked meals.

As the industry widens, new home chefs will come on board, and there is a need to help these individuals navigate through the business and avoid some common mistakes that many home chefs made.

As a chef whether old or new, you have probably made a few mistakes in your time. Maybe even some really big ones, and understand that cooking can be very tedious and grueling because of the processes involved.

In this article, we have identified some common mistakes home chefs have made over time and how you can avoid them.

10 Common Mistakes Home-Chefs Make

1. Overlooking the fundamentals of cooking

This is the most fundamental of all mistakes. If you are a home chef, you need to know how to cook. It’s that simple. It’s not enough to simply follow recipes or instructions—you need to understand the fundamentals of cooking and be able to apply them every time you prepare food.

What do we mean by “understanding the fundamentals of cooking?” We mean knowing how heat works, what different temperatures mean when it comes time to cook something, what tools and utensils are available for use in the kitchen and how they work together with different foods, etc. This knowledge isn’t just important for beginners—a seasoned cook can benefit from a refresher course on his or her basics as well!

2. Not keeping a clean and organized kitchen

A messy, unorganized space will lead to you being less efficient in your cooking, which can lead to other mistakes such as burning food or forgetting ingredients. To avoid these problems, keep your tools organized and accessible, wash up after each use of the stove or oven (if possible), and make sure that you have enough lighting for all of your work surfaces. You should also regularly wipe down counters and appliances with a disinfectant cleaner so that bacteria doesn’t grow inside them.

We wrote an entire article on keeping an organized kitchen, read it here.

3. Neglecting prep work

Cooking in itself already is a time-consuming process, so taking time to prep your ingredient before you start cooking helps to save time by reducing the number of hours that go into cooking. Ingredient/Meal prep is also a way of ensuring that all ingredients needed for cooking are available. 

4. Unstructured menu

This can be fun if you are cooking for just yourself, but if you run a home-food business, it can also be a huge waste of time. If you don’t have a system for planning meals or a structured menu your customers can view, you’re likely to spend more time thinking about what to cook than actually doing it.

Meal menu

If you’re not sure where to start or what kind of meals to make, consider looking at some recipes online, some we already wrote about. You can also ask friends whose cooking styles you admire what they recommend—they may have tried something new recently that’s great! Finally, don’t forget about cookbooks and magazines; these are great resources for inspiration.

5. Not separating household food from business food

When you’re starting, it’s easy to feel like you can take a few shortcuts that won’t affect your business. For example, you might figure that if your household food is stored in the same refrigerator and freezer as your business food, it doesn’t matter. But there are several reasons for keeping them separate:

  • It is easier to track inventory when all of your inventory is packaged and labeled separately.
  • If something goes awry with the product (for example, if someone gets sick from it), then you’ll have a much easier time tracking down which batch was affected.
6. Not paying close enough attention to food safety

You may think that food safety is just about cooking the right way, but it’s more than that. Food safety is a mindset and a process, not just the result of good cooking. It’s also an important aspect of running your business because customers don’t want to eat unsafe food.

Here are some things you can do to make sure your kitchen is practicing proper food safety:

  • Educate yourself on the basics of food safety and make sure all your staff is up to speed as well.
  • Follow safe cooking practices (such as washing hands, preventing cross-contamination, etc.).
  • Use proper refrigeration methods and temperature controls (like a thermometer).
  • Washing your hands before touching raw meat, or poultry. This is a big one because raw meat can harbor dangerous bacteria that cause food poisoning, and if you don’t wash your hands before handling and preparing it for cooking, you run a serious risk of contaminating your kitchen with harmful bacteria.
7. Not considering what the customer wants

Customers want to feel like they’re getting exactly what they need, not just what you think they should have. If you have a clear vision for your business and know how to communicate that vision effectively, then it’s easy for customers to understand why you do things the way you do. For example, if one of your most popular menu items is fried chicken fingers but their healthiest choice is grilled salmon, don’t give them a hard time about it. Give them both options so they can choose the one they like best.

8. Failure to keep up with the latest food trends

It’s not just about keeping up with trends in your industry. You should also be aware of what people are eating, as well as what’s in season and growing in popularity.

If you specialize in preparing seafood, for example, you’ll want to know that salmon is on the rise right now and how much people love it. This will help you decide which dishes to add to your menu and when to offer specials based on this information.

You can get some of this information from media like Food Network, Food Safety News, Food Industry Executive, Taste of Home, etc.

9. Ignoring financial and other business realities

Ignoring financial and other business realities.

You need to know what your income is, your expenses are, what your profit is and how much money you have available for reinvestment. You should also know when it’s appropriate to pay yourself.

10. Stopping the business before it has a chance to grow

You don’t want to stop the business before it has a chance to grow. It’s important to keep your eye on the long term and continue investing in your business, even when things get tough. If you’re not making money right away, don’t worry about it too much because everyone goes through this.

Other Common Mistakes Home Chefs Make

Failing to Promote the Business

If you’re not promoting your business, it’s going to be hard for people to find you. You need to do whatever it takes to get the word out about your business so that people know what you’re offering and can decide if they want to buy from you or not. Good thing Local Chow is here to help you with this bit of the business.

Not prepping your ingredients

Cooking in itself already is a time-consuming process, so taking time to prep your ingredient before you start cooking helps to save time by reducing the number of hours that go into cooking. Ingredient/Meal prep is also a way of ensuring that all ingredients needed for cooking are available. 

Not seasoning food properly 

Without proper seasoning, your meal will taste bland and unappetizing. For example, Salt is very essential for cooking. It serves as a preserver and enhances the flavor of your food. So, you must taste your food before serving it so that you know when it’s seasoned enough. Remember you’re not cooking for yourself but customers.


This one seems obvious but often gets overlooked because we want our food ready as soon as possible! The problem with this is that overcooking can ruin your dish entirely. e.g., when meat and vegetables are overcooked, they tend to lose their nutrients. So, it’s important not to make sure not to rush through your meal or let it sit out too long before eating it!

In Conclusion

There are a lot of common mistakes that can occur when you are operating your business as a home food chef. But the key to success in every endeavor is to look at the mistakes others have made and try to avoid them, and also create opportunities for improvement. 

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