I was recently on a local podcast called Frederick Advice Givers. Eric Verdi has done a great job interviewing local entrepreneurs for more than 100 episodes now. If you’d like to listen to it, you can find the episode here. I wanted to post this now because I just shot a video follow-up to this. Eric is launching a Vlog, and I just went to his house to shoot it. I’m actually cooking during the interview. Look for it to drop some time in February 2018.
In the meantime, Eric has also transcribed much of our first interview, and I’m reposting that here. Thanks for taking the time.
Chris Spear: A Dozen Delicious Benefits Served Up By Perfect Little Bites
Chris Spear has been passionate about cooking since he was a kid growing up in Massachusetts about forty miles west of Boston. Working in restaurants since the age of sixteen, he now has twenty-five years of experience.
Chris earned a B.S. Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. While attending culinary school, he met Emily. His future wife was also studying to be a chef.
After graduation, they moved to Seattle and then outside of Philadelphia where they worked for a catering company. They then “traveled around the country a bit before settling in Frederick.”
They’re enjoying raising their five-year-old twins here. “Frederick’s amazing. There’s so much to do.” Chris is heavily into the arts and loves exposing his kids to galleries, music and movies. “We love Frederick family events.”
Chris confides that cooking is both a great passion and a hobby. “A lot of my free time, I’m reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows and trying to hone my craft even more.”
He’s thrilled to deliver the fine dining experience into your home and there are several reasons why this very creative personal chef is in very high demand.
A Dozen Delicious Benefits Served Up By Perfect Little Bites
* You don’t have to cook a thing! Just kick back, relax and have a good time.
* Try a new culture/cuisine or, as Chris says, “something you didn’t know you were going to love.”
* A custom menu is created to suit your tastes, your preferences and any dietary restrictions.
* Only the freshest ingredients are used, whether from a big vendor or a local store. Chris does the shopping.
* It’s more than just a dinner. It’s a show and an experience.
* It’s hassle-free. Stay in the comfort of your own home. There’s no need to drive somewhere.
* Ready when you are! There’s no wait-time for restaurant seating and then waiting to be served.
* Avoid all the extra costs incurred with dining out like hiring a sitter and paying for valet parking and gratuities.
* Everything that’s needed is brought along. Yes, everything! Pots, pans, linens, etc.!
* Interact with the chef a little, a lot (go ahead- pick his brain!) or not at all. It’s entirely up to you.
* No dirty dishes to wash! Chris brings the china and takes the dirty dishes home with him. He’s the dishwasher, as well as the chef!
* A valuable life-time culinary reference! Chris is always ready to help his clients with cooking tips, cookbook recommendations and restaurant referrals for vacation destinations.
The Journey From Catering Company Employee To Personal In-Home Chef
Fifteen years ago, when Chris and Emily were working for a catering company in Pennsylvania, there would be calls requesting an anniversary dinner for two or a small dinner party for a few couples. They were all turned away because the company didn’t cater anything that small.
Eventually, the company proposed that Chris and Emily serve those customers on the side if they wanted to make some extra money. Chris thought, “This is a thing. I don’t know how it’s going to be a business but I definitely see a market for it.”
Then, seven years ago, he was running a big kitchen and enduring lots of stress. “I wanted to get out so I started a long exit strategy.” That involved building Perfect Little Bites on the side on nights and weekends.
“I was taking vacation time from my full-time job so I could go work gigs and build a client base.” Last year, he ventured out onto his own “and I’m loving it every day.”
Chris said, “I didn’t see anyone doing this. And, it puts me back where I want to be — giving people something amazing, being able to see how much they love it and working with them to give them an amazing experience.
“I bring all the china and the linen, like a catering company. But, being at every event cooking a personal, customized meal and putting on a show.”
The Biggest Challenge Of Entrepreneurship
The biggest challenge for Chris is “getting in front of customers. Letting them know what I do and finding where my market is. Because it’s so new, there’s not a lot of reference points.”
He continues, “I don’t do weddings of fifty. I don’t bring things in chaffing dishes. I don’t have this big banquet hall. But, I’m also not that personal chef that’s going to come cook you a week’s worth of meals.”
And, how do people search for what he provides? “People go on Google and they’re not necessarily looking for a personal chef. They’re looking for a restaurant or looking for a caterer. I fall somewhere in the middle.”
Advice Chris Would Give Himself If He Could Turn The Clock Back
“Ask for things.” Chris grew up with an old-school sort of Dad who was a big influence. “I thought if I worked really hard at a job, I’d get a promotion or get whatever.”
“What I found out is that you really have to go after things. Sometimes, I have to go out there and find people and chase leads.” It’s a far cry from when he would sit back and hope everyone knew what he had to offer and waited for the calls to come in.
Today, Chris is taking Perfect Little Bites to more venues, including events at wineries and breweries. “The doors have opened more with me having to go out — once I learned I can just ask for what I want.”
The once-upon-a-time introvert wisely asks, “What’s the worst people are going to do? Say no? But, it took me a long time to get to that place.”
Perfect Little Bites Makes The Perfect Little Difference
Chris is reminded that Perfect Little Bites is making a difference every time he sees customers’ eyes light up when they’re having the perfect in-home custom dining experience. And, it’s not just the adults who appreciate his talents.
He recalls a slumber party for a twelve-year-old’s birthday. Twelve kids wanted to learn how to cook. Not many other chefs (are there any?) would want that gig but Chris took it as a great compliment. “They had a GREAT time!”
“Those are the days that I really enjoy the work and I know that I’m doing this the right way. It’s not just about always making some crazy, fancy food for some high-end customer.”
Perfect Little Bites Keeps Dishing It Out With Social Media
It’s really important to Chris to connect with his customer base. “Social media has been great for me. Right now, I’m bouncing between Instagram and Facebook.
“That’s how I advertise,” he shares. “That’s how I interact. I built this whole business just on the back of social media seven years ago. I think it’s a great way.”
He explains, “I can make a dish, take a photo and put it out there so people can see what I’m doing. Since people are paying to have a dinner, if they have never tried my food, they can at least look at it and interact a bit.”
“It’s an amazing resource for anyone, but especially entrepreneurs, in being able to get on social media and connect with your customer base. I think it’s huge. If you’re not doing that as a business owner, you’re missing the boat!”
The Book That Helped Chris Determine How To Grow His Business
The Thank You Economy by Gary Vanderchuk.
“It made me examine how I thought about interacting with customers and really engaging. I tell everyone who’s entering the entrepreneur space to read his books, listen to his podcasts and watch his videos.”
“The way that he has built a community is great. And, that’s how I try to model how I grow my business — interacting with my customers.”
Arrange To Enjoy The Fine Dining Experience At Your Home
Shoot Chris an e-mail and he’ll reply with a questionnaire that will define your culinary likes and dislikes, and any dietary restrictions that need to be accommodated.
Fill it out and send it back. Chris will keep your budget in mind as he comes up with several suggestions for each course. All you have to do is make your selections. It’s that easy!
Just be sure to book well ahead to allow Chris the time he needs to plan a menu and shop (usually at several stores).
* Cooking classes in your own kitchen – individual or small group
* Kids – educational and entertaining cooking lessons. Home-made pizza? Cookies and cupcakes from scratch? Oh, yeah!
Perfect Little Bites – For yourself or as the perfect little gift!
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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