7 Side Hustles Great Cooks Can Start for Extra Cash

If you’re a cook looking for extra cash, consider one of these culinary side hustles. Options include catering events, selling food products, and blogging.

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December 29, 2022 9 min read

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In this day and age, side hustles are the name of the game for many entrepreneurs. They can not only help you make extra money but also may help advance your career.

If you’re a culinarian, you have a lot of options when it comes to creating side gigs. Whether you start a small business or pursue passive income sources, there are countless things you can do with cooking skills and a culinary degree.

So keep your day job and get started on any of the following culinary side hustles.

1. Sell a Product

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to earn extra income as a professional chef is to sell your food. If you love making salsa, or you think your bread is the best around, why not sell it?

Farmer’s markets can be a good place to start. You can lease a stall for weekly gigs or even monthly appearances, depending on how much time you have to commit to a business, and what your local farmer’s markets have available.

Baker selling organic bread at outdoors farmers market

Farmers’ markets can be a good place to start selling your culinary creations.

E-commerce marketplaces like Etsy are also great for chefs looking to sell their creations. Selling your products online can make your food available to more potential customers. If you start getting a lot of sales, you could even start your own website. But participating in sales via websites like Etsy may mean giving portions of your profits away to the platform or in shipping fees, so consider this route by carefully crunching the numbers.

Keep in mind that your state and also the way you’re selling your food could dictate where you make it. Before you begin churning out batches of cookies or jars of jam, check to see if you can cook in your home or if you need to lease a commercial kitchen space.

2. Establish a Pop-up Restaurant, Food Truck, or Ghost Kitchen

Have you always dreamed of running your own restaurant, but you’re not quite ready to start one? Establishing a pop-up restaurant or food truck may be the perfect way to get started with cooking professionally.

This type of food business can be seasonal, temporary, or part-time, so it doesn’t always require a full-time commitment. Starting one of these businesses also generally requires less start-up money than a restaurant, and can provide greater flexibility in terms of location. If you’re not seeing the sales you would like in a particular area, you might opt to pack up and move somewhere else.

Ghost restaurants and kitchens are similar concepts that gained a lot of traction during the COVID-19 pandemic. An alternative to launching your own brick-and-mortar restaurant, these allow you to prepare food from a commercial kitchen for online sales. Customers can either pick up their meals at your kitchen or have them delivered. This gives you more freedom to play with different menus and concepts and also allows you to forgo the costs associated with leasing a dine-in restaurant space.

Starting your own food truck is another way to serve your food to hungry customers, without committing the time and money to opening a full service restaurant. This venture still requires you to become familiar with business planning, food inventory, menu planning, and more, so it can be a great way to learn or test the skills you’ve explored in culinary school. As far as the actual truck goes, you may be lucky enough to find a used vehicle that meets all your needs, or you may need to purchase and furnish one yourself.

Food trucks on a street with cars driving by

A food truck allows you to showcase your food as well as overall concept

If you find yourself loving every minute of this kind of side hustle, it’s possible you can harness your entrepreneurial spirit and tested skills to establish a permanent space of your own, depending on your city and state regulations.

3. Offer Prepared Meals Locally

Meal-prepping has never been more popular, but not everyone has the time to prepare meals for themselves. That means you can use your culinary skills to fill this gap.

This side hustle can fit into any type of schedule—you can sell as many ready-made meals as you have the capacity to make, marketing as much or as little as you like. If you’d like to set yourself apart from the crowd, you can choose to specialize in a specific diet or type of meal, such as keto, plant-based, or kid-friendly menu items. You can also choose to offer delivery services, or have your customers pick up from your kitchen or a local business.

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Clicking the "Get the Survey Now" button constitutes your express request, and your express written consent, to be contacted by and to receive automated or pre-recorded call, texts, messages and/or emails from via phone, text, and/or emails by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts at the number(s)/email you provided, regarding furthering your education and enrolling. You understand that these calls, texts, messages and/or emails may be generated using an automated or pre-recorded technology. You are not required to agree to receive automated or pre-recorded calls, texts, messages or emails as a condition of enrolling at Escoffier. You can unsubscribe at any time or request removal of street address, phone number, email address via Escoffier website.

4. Prepare Food for Catered Events

If you love cooking for dinner party guests and preparing appetizer spreads for parties, catering events for others may be a good side hustle for you. Depending on the type of events you cater and local regulations and restrictions, you may cook in your own home, at a commercial space, or in a kitchen at the event. Catering also allows you to choose the size that’s right for you—you can start with appetizers for ten-person parties or jump right into preparing food for hundreds of wedding guests.

Like most culinary side hustles, your success will lie in both your culinary and business skills. Once you plan a menu the people in your area respond well to and figure out how to make it work financially, you may be in good shape to keep this business going long-term.

“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

5. Teach an Enthusiast Class

If you have a passion for sharing your knowledge of ingredients and cooking techniques with the public, teaching may be the side hustle for you. This gig can take many forms, from holding single classes on how to make homemade pasta to instructing six-week sessions that cover basic cooking skills.

You can reach out to local restaurants to see if they need chef instructors on a guest or rotating basis, or you may consider renting a kitchen where you can hold regular classes. But you don’t need a restaurant or commercial kitchen space to teach people how to cook! You can teach virtually from the convenience of your own kitchen or even offer in-home classes where you travel to teach small groups of family and friends.

After teaching a class on cooking or baking, you may feel inspired to expand your own education. Escoffier offers 100% online degrees and diplomas with industry externships that even the busiest entrepreneurs can complete.

6. Write a Cookbook

Are you overflowing with recipes and culinary stories to share with the world? If so, consider moving those ideas from your mind to the page by writing a cookbook. Not only can this process help you share your knowledge with others, but it may also connect you with other culinary professionals like food photographers, food stylists, and cookbook publicists.

If publishing a cookbook seems like too big an endeavor, you can opt to sell your recipes to blogs, magazines, and other platforms for extra cash. Freelance recipe developers may not get a lot of recognition, but they can make good money doing what they love.

Unsurprisingly, accomplished culinarians often go on to become published authors. In fact, several Escoffier Chef Instructors have written cookbooks. Online Pastry Chef Instructor and Master Baker Collette Christian is just one instructor who has published a cookbook, Mastering Macarons: Classic to Contemporary Techniques. As an Escoffier student, you can have the opportunity to be mentored and taught by some of the best chefs in the industry.

7. Start a Food Blog, Podcast, or YouTube Channel

Food blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels can be a fun outlet for creativity, and a chance to make some extra money.

These mediums offer many opportunities for affiliate marketing, which may mean more cash in your pocket. The greater following you build, the more likely brands and companies could pay you to promote their products.

You may decide to make your content free and utilize ads for income, or you may opt to charge for subscriptions. Many successful podcasts utilize the subscription model after growing a substantial audience.

If your blog or channel takes off, you may want to use some of your revenue to purchase cameras, props, or audio equipment so you can continue building your business and brand.

Young woman recording on a smart phone her vlog and sitting at the table with lots of green vegan food ingredients at home

Modern technology makes it simpler to start a blog or youtube channel

Turning Your Side Hustle Into Your Job

A culinary or pastry degree or diploma may give you the skills and knowledge you need to start your side hustle or turn it into a profitable culinary career. Escoffier students receive guidance from professional Chef Instructors and also have the opportunity to interact with other passionate peers.

Not only do Escoffier students explore culinary techniques and work with new ingredients, but they may also have the chance to dive into business and entrepreneurial skills. They can spend time exploring topics like business planning, inventory management, and marketing, which may help them in future endeavors. And our new Food Entrepreneurship program can provide students with crucial information about what it takes to start a food business.

You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try. Request information about Escoffier to learn more about becoming a culinary entrepreneur, and how a mentor may help you make your business dreams a reality.

For more tips on starting a successful cooking business, read these articles:

This article was originally published on April 7, 2021, 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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