My business Perfect Little Bites was recently featured in The Frederick News Post. It was a chance to talk about my business, and my approach to cooking. Rather than linking out, I’ve copied the article here.
Chris Spear started Perfect Little Bites as a side job in 2010, and began running the business based out of Frederick full time in November. Spear talked to The Frederick News-Post about his business offering in-home cooking lessons and dinners.
What inspired you to start an in-home cooking business?
I wanted to bring a fun, restaurant-style dining experience into people’s homes. There are a number of reasons why people don’t go out to eat. I have young children, and the whole process can be challenging. Between finding a babysitter, getting a reservation and dealing with parking, it starts to be less enjoyable to go out.
There are caterers who just do big parties, and personal chefs that cook you a week’s worth of meals that you have to reheat, but nobody was bringing a true restaurant experience into their customers’ homes. With the rise of customer allergies and intolerances, some diners are having a difficult time finding restaurants that can, or want to, address their dietary needs.
Also, if you’d like an alcoholic beverage, you can enjoy one without worrying about driving. As a bonus, I bring all my own pots and pans for cooking and china to serve the meal on, so you won’t have any dishes to worry about.
Where did the name “Perfect Little Bites” come from?
When my wife and I go out to eat, we usually get different things to share. When getting ready to trade samples, we’d get a “perfect little bite” for each other, making sure that every component of the dish was on the fork or spoon. We started that 15 years ago, and joked that it would be the name if I ever started a business. It just stuck.
What type of food do you typically make, and how is a menu decided when someone books you?
Really, I do a little of everything. I’d say my style is contemporary mid-Atlantic and Southern with global influences. I really love authentic Mexican, Spanish, Vietnamese and Middle Eastern food. Fusion has become a bit of a dirty word in the food world, but that’s how I approach things. I like to give someone a reference point. I might take a crab cake that everyone is familiar with, but look at it through the lens of Thai cooking and see what I can come up with. I think my style is very eclectic, and I’m trying to make food that you can’t get in any restaurant around here.
When a customer contacts me, I email them a brief questionnaire to find out their likes, dislikes, allergies and level of adventurousness. Within a day I’ll send them a proposed menu or a list of some dishes that I think they might like. We work together to fine-tune the details, and then I get started.
Where did your passion for cooking begin, and how did you gain experience?
I’ve always loved food. Growing up, my mom cooked a real dinner every night. It wasn’t always fancy, but it was rarely takeout or something frozen. Growing up around that, I seemed to gravitate towards cooking. I started working in a kitchen at 16, just learning the basics, and went on to get my bachelor’s degree in culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. I’ve moved around the country working in different types of kitchens, trying to learn as many different things as possible. I still continue to take workshops, because I’m someone who wants to learn every day.
I’ve read that you are also a homebrewer and cocktail enthusiast. How do you marry these two things with your cooking and your business?
I do a lot of cooking with beer and spirits, and even let them inspire dishes. I’ll take a cocktail like The Last Word, which is made from green Chartreuse, gin, lime juice and Maraschino liqueur, and reinterpret it as a dessert with Chartreuse sabayon, juniper lime curd and cherry coulis. I’ve also been building relationships with local wineries and breweries, and have a few upcoming pairing events that I’m working on. I’ve recently done two events with Orchid Cellar Winery & Meadery in Middletown. Often, after setting a menu with my customer, they’ll ask what I’d recommend drinking with the meal, and I can make beer, wine and cocktail recommendations.
What benefits does the in-home aspect bring you that you wouldn’t get working in the restaurant industry?
I get bored easily, and I’m always interested in cooking new things. I’m not locked into a restaurant that has one style or cuisine. I can cook a formal French dinner tonight, and a fun Spanish tapas party tomorrow. Most of my customers are people looking for a unique dining experience, and are pretty open to my suggestions. It’s also great to have a flexible schedule. Owning your own business isn’t easy, but I’ve been able to have a lot more time with my family. I get to decide if I’d rather go to my son’s basketball game or work a dinner on Saturday. Quite often, I can do both.
If you like what you see, please consider hiring me for an in-home dinner or cooking lesson. I run a personal chef business based out of Frederick, MD. Get more information here. Thank you.
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