After interviewing Amaryllis, a vegan private chef in London, I had the privilege to interview Rocio who started 10 years ago to offer services as a private chef for luxury vacation rentals in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started being a private vegan chef.
I started working as a private chef after several years living here in the Riviera Maya. I was working hard in restaurants with demanding schedules for more than 9 hours a day which impeded me from enjoying doing things in my daily life.
Suddenly I had the idea of offering my services in the small and oldest hotels here in Playa like “Condohoteles” that were along the 5th Avenue.
I left them a menu and offered my services for people that were staying in these apartments who were owner families or guests and stayed for a week or longer.
These are apartments that have a kitchen but many times people are on vacation and they don’t want to cook so I thought I could go there and cook for them.
That’s how I started here in Playa del Carmen around nine or ten years ago.
First, I was offering these services only for dinners in one of the most luxurious and recognized villas here in Playa del Carmen.
One day, I was invited to work as their villa’s chef, a service which is included in that villa as of today. I worked there for two years.
The villa’s owners were also partners of one of the most important luxury vacation rentals agency. I became then the agency’s chef.
Suddenly the agency started growing and they had to start hiring more chefs which at the time I had to interview and try their menus. So basically that’s how I started.
2. How do you market and promote your plant-based chef services?
I think vegan food is the one that makes me be the most creative as a cook and which I enjoy the most because I have to find those flavors and please the palate.
Finding how to satisfy those textures without using animal based products and getting the most out of plants and fruit that nature gives you and don’t come from animals make you be creative.
I based my vegan menu on Mexican dishes with their flavors and ingredients so that people that come visit my country can have the option of still satisfying their eating habits and lifestyle trying the ingredients and flavors that there are in Mexico.
The result was a very cool menu because these are the Mexican dishes and flavors but in a vegan version.
There is also the option when people hire me to create a Mexican menu or a healthy menu because in the area there are more and more yoga and health retreats.
3. How did you set up your private chef business?
I think the most important thing to start your own business is not to be afraid of going out of your comfort zone because the most comfortable thing is having a salary, something that assures you a fixed income.
This way I started my own business, not being afraid of not having a salary and trying and striving for what I wanted.
When I started I had the idea of creating a webpage I wanted to look for the right person.
Now, I really love my website I’ve updated it a couple of times and I have a great webmaster who helped me initiate my online business, then it grew more in Facebook and right now I’m focusing more on Instagram but most of my customers are from the internet.
After some years now, people have gotten to know me in the area and I work a lot with concierges, travel agencies, VIP concierges, host and villa owners who also recommend me and my services.
4. What do you think is important when creating such a business? How did you stand out from the competition?
I don’t focus on competition or what they’re doing, I’m focused on being better, making something new, creating, giving the best of me.
I think details are very important, the way I mount a table, a spoon, I think how I’d like to be served, what I’d like to see when I sit down at a table, from a glass, a spoon, a tablecloth, to the way the napkin is folded.
Each small detail is what makes the difference, always be demanding of yourself. Sometimes people tell me that I’m intense and that I don’t stop, that I’m hyperactive but I think that is what has made me become a difference and also always growing and being a step ahead.
Sometimes people tell me that I’m intense and that I don’t stop, that I’m hyperactive but I think that is what has made me become a difference and also always growing and being a step ahead.
5. Why people love your services as Chef?
I think people love this service because who doesn’t like being pampered? who wouldn’t like not having to worry about doing the shopping, getting everything there must be?
Rather than avoiding having to go to a restaurant or having someone go grocery shopping, I think it’s the experience of hiring a private chef because you step out of the ordinary like when going to a restaurant.
You get served at home, in a comfortable environment, it’s a personalized service, we get to know the client and once we understand what they like, we try to surprise them and have everything they want or they’re thinking about at the table even before they have to ask for it.
Our mission and our accomplishments are always surprising our clients; surprise them with unexpected things, reading their minds on what it is they want.
That’s what makes a service become an experience and not only being a supplier of food at home but an experience that is always different, being something they don’t expect.
6. What advice do you have about becoming a private chef for vegan people? How did you price your services?
I based my prices based on what I thought I should earn by the hour of work at first.
Then, everything went up, gas, salaries, I try to give a fair salary to people for the work they do and I always hire qualified people that I know will do things as if I were there even if I’m not.
I always have qualified people in my staff who likes what they do and are prepared. Based in what I pay them and what I do is what I charge.
7. What are your top 5 tips for becoming a private vegan chef?
-Get inspired with local ingredients, get to know their flavors and textures.
-Be curious, look for and do research on different uses and behaviors of all plants.
-Visit markets in every place you visit, eat in every place you have the chance to.
-Imagine what your favorite dish would be like without animal ingredients.
-Play and have fun experimenting, enjoy what you do.
Do you want to attract more vegan guests?
What do you think of this success story of a vegan private chef for luxury vacation rentals in Mexico? Would you like to try out her food? Tell us in the comments and share with your friends!
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I’m Natacha, a French vegan Airbnb host who has been working online for the past 4 years. I help hosts stand out and make more money online so they can have a good work-life balance!