How to Become a Traveling Chef

Thinking about a career as a traveling chef? Discover which opportunities are out there, how to find them, and if you have what it takes.

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August 2, 2023 11 min read

Do you love to travel, but worry that a culinary career might force you to plant roots in a single place? Are you feeling stuck in your current job and looking for a unique way to see the world, preferably with your apron on?

The good news is that there’s a whole world out there hungry for knowledgeable, professionally trained chefs. For you, that means opportunities to flex your culinary skills while still being able to tap into your adventurous side. Becoming a traveling chef might be just what you’ve been looking for!

What Is a Traveling Chef?

Rather than staying planted in one kitchen, a traveling chef moves around. The frequency depends on the type of job. For example, if you’re cooking on a cruise ship, then your location can change weekly, even though your kitchen stays the same. If you work for a client or family, you might spend some of your time working in a private residence and the remainder in a vacation home, yacht, or on the road.

You could also be employed with an organization that requires you to be more mobile, perhaps in a corporate chef training role that sends you wherever your skills are needed. If you’re looking for flexibility, then freelancing or contract work would allow you to choose where you want to go and for how long. From beachfront restaurants to ski resorts, the possibilities–and your location–could change with the season.

Male manager talking to a team of five staff members, all wearing aprons and standing in front of a restaurant bar

As a corporate trainer, you could travel to restaurants within your brand portfolio.

You can also use mobility as a means of learning more about the culinary niches that interest you. For example, if you felt inspired by the 2011 film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, then you may want to focus your job search on coastal areas with fish markets where you can learn about working with raw fish. If you’re fascinated by the possibilities of plant-based cooking, then get your hands dirty.

Chef Joshua McFadden, the author of Six Seasons, worked on a farm and did pop-ups to explore the seasonality of vegetables. This method of learning can help you discover jobs that may align with both your travel aspirations and your career goals.

What Are the Career Options for a Traveling Chef?

Once upon a time, traveling chef jobs were pretty limited, with most globetrotting cooks working in below-deck kitchens on floating vessels. But times have changed, and job opportunities in this area continue to grow.

If a traveling chef job is something you think you’d enjoy–either as a learning experience or as a potential career–know that there are several ways you can design your life. You could choose to work for a single company, experiment with seasonal work, or even be your own boss.

Opt for Entrepreneurship

If you’ve got an entrepreneurial mindset and you like a change of scenery, then why not start your own food truck or mobile catering company? Both options allow you to work as an on-location chef, wherever you are. Food trucks are growing in popularity for weddings and events worldwide. You can also find creative mobile opportunities, like running pop-up restaurants or starting a traveling supper club. This can allow you to build your professional network and collaborate with other chefs.

“I’m a graduate of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. The instructors are like rockstars. They truly care about you as a student and as a person. I opened a food truck while enrolled and the long hours had me falling behind in my classes. My instructor called me personally and we worked on balancing the schoolwork with my work schedule AND she helped me with great advice for my business. If you’re thinking about culinary school–DO IT!!!”*
Quinten Adcock, Escoffier Online Culinary Arts Graduate and Owner of QDogCafe food truck

Got a passion for hot sauce, nut butter, or salad dressing? Consider bottling up your unique recipe and selling food products through your own cottage industry business! Traveling to trade shows and farmers’ markets to whip up tasters is usually a part of the job. Plus, you may get to meet people from around the world while simultaneously building your business.

Find Freelance Jobs

Freelancing can allow for the most flexibility, but takes grit and elbow grease to be a financially secure option. This path is often a great way to explore different options and build your culinary network. You can become a freelance chef for private households, yachts, or touring celebrities. Job boards like Private Chefs, Inc.,, and are excellent resources.

Another option is to put your skills to work for festivals and events. While you’re at it, share your experiences as a traveling chef and food blogger.

For a more established career, consider searching EConnect, a platform that connects aspiring culinarians with established employers in the culinary and hospitality industry.

Seek Out Seasonal Work

This might be the easiest way to get moving as a traveling chef. Seasonal jobs are abundant and take place all over the world, giving you ample opportunities to continent-hop while learning about food from different cultures.

You can find seasonal work at international hotels and resorts, cruise companies, or private chef jobs for families abroad. For example, is a great resource for finding short-term gigs in the United Kingdom that will definitely give your suitcase a workout. Be sure to compare the salary to the cost of living when it comes to seasonal jobs, as these are often in resort areas and finding affordable accommodation can sometimes be tricky.

Take On Corporate Travel Jobs

If security is important and you’d prefer to work your way up with an organization, then a traveling chef job with a large company that has a global reach could be right for you. Become a corporate trainer working with a national or international chain, and you’re sure to rack up more than a few airline miles!

Jobs with international food brands and cookware companies may also keep you on your feet, traveling to trade shows and events as a demo chef. Cruise ship chef roles can also allow you upward mobility while keeping you afloat year-round.

An assortment of various types and sizes of kitchen knives surrounding a circular wooden cutting board on a wooden table

Working for a cookware company could allow you to travel while giving product demonstrations to potential clients.

Look Into Volunteer Opportunities

If experience, rather than a paycheck, is your main goal, then try volunteering with global food programs. Opportunities with humanitarian organizations like World Chefs Without Borders are great ways to see the world and do some good.

There’s also the World Central Kitchen project, started by Chef José Andrés. Not only are these organizations great ways to enrich your travel experiences, but you could have the chance to meet like-minded chefs from all over the world, helping you start to build your global network.

Before You Decide, Ask Yourself…

There are a few things you should consider before packing your bags and scheduling your passport photo shoot. The more honest you are about your long-term goals and your preferred frequency of travel, the more successful your experience as a traveling chef may be.

How Much and How Far Am I Willing to Travel?

Do you want to live out of a backpack or do you prefer to unpack it every once in a while and settle in for a bit? This is a big lifestyle consideration that you should take into account before you start your job search. There’s no wrong answer here–it all depends on how well you know yourself and your habits.

You can be a traveling chef in your own city or region, just traveling occasionally. You can work seasonally, going wherever the wind (and the work) takes you. Or you can go full nomad and wing it. The key is to know yourself, be honest about your living habits and needs on the road, and think about which traveling chef lifestyle best suits you.

If you’re interested in an experience abroad but not sure how often you want to re-pack your bags, then you could take advantage of Escoffier’s international study opportunity. We’ve partnered with École Ducasse’s French culinary institute in Paris to offer Escoffier students a unique culinary education experience. If you’ve completed your associate degree program in either Culinary Arts or Baking & Pastry Arts at Escoffier, you’re eligible to enter the second year of Ducasse’s three-year Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts. You can request more information here.

Young smiling woman sitting in front of The Louvre Palace in Paris, holding a croissant and coffee cup, with laptop in her lap

Our partnership program at the École Ducasse French culinary institute in Paris could help you understand whether working internationally might be a good fit for you.

If you think life on the road long-term might be for you, then you can see what it’s really like by reading the World Travel Chef blog. Chef James Long has been a full-time traveling chef since 2013. He’s done it all, from private chef gigs to working in upscale resort kitchens around the world, supplementing his knowledge with local cooking courses along the way.

Do I Have the Necessary Skills?

The nature of this kind of work means a traditional in-person stage isn’t always possible. So what gets printed on your resume can really matter. Prospective employers often don’t have time to take chances–especially if the job is in some far-off, exotic locale. They need to know that you have what it takes from the time you apply for the role. This could include things like basic knife skills, keeping a clean workstation, and knowing basic kitchen commands. They may also want some assurance that you’ll approach the job with a certain level of professionalism.

A culinary degree from a respected institution can help affirm all of the above. Plus, you don’t have to wait until you’ve completed your degree to start working. Escoffier offers 100% online degrees with hands-on industry externships. Depending on which program you’re in, online classes are between 15-23 hours per week depending on program and personal pace of study. So, you can potentially earn your degree in any remote setting while you’re off being a traveling chef in the real world.

Cassie Wallace“The online program worked best for me because I could do my full-time job and be a full-time student. It was easy because it was flexible. I took off, spread my wings, and never looked back.”*
Cassie Wallace, Online Baking & Pastry Graduate

How Much Financial Security Do I Need?

Now that you know your options, it’s time to think about the financials. Do you need the security of a regular paycheck, or do you have enough savings to cushion you between jobs? Seasonal jobs, for instance, aren’t necessarily hard to find–but there may be gaps between when one job ends and the next begins. This kind of lifestyle might require you to be low on work once in a while, so it’s best to be financially prepared. It’s a good idea to have an emergency fund in the bank just for peace of mind.

Becoming an entrepreneur requires investment upfront, so making sure you have money to live on while you’re getting off the ground can help save you a lot of stress. If you’re someone who likes a bit more security, then working for one company, rather than going freelance or seasonal, might be the option that fits you best.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’ve been dreaming about becoming a chef and you want to explore the world, then consider taking your show on the road! Culinary career prospects are on the rise and that means new and interesting work opportunities are popping up every day. Besides, why should digital nomads get to have all the fun? A traveling chef job can let you have your cake and eat it too!

Interested in a career as a traveling chef, but need to brush up on the basics? Whether it’s sharpening your knife skills in our online culinary school or learning how to successfully start your own business in our Food Entrepreneurship Program, Escoffier is a great place to start getting the knowledge you may need to become a traveling chef.

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This article was originally published on August 12, 2016, and has since been updated.

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.

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