Chefs Without Restaurants

Build and Grow Your Personal Chef Service with Larry Lynch of the USPCA

October 26, 2023 Chris Spear Season 5 Episode 209
Chefs Without Restaurants
Build and Grow Your Personal Chef Service with Larry Lynch of the USPCA
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Show Notes Transcript

This week, my guest this week is Larry Lynch, president of the United States Personal Chef Association.

Topics Discussed:
Food safety
Regulations, the health department, and cooking in your home
Customer acquisition
Events and meal prep
Pricing
Chef-for-hire platforms and hireachef.com


LARRY LYNCH AND THE UNITED STATES PERSONAL CHEF ASSOCIATION
The USPCA Website
Hire a Chef
The USPCA's  Instagram, X(Twitter) and Facebook

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SPONSOR INFO
United States Personal Chef Association
This episode is sponsored by the Unites States Personal Chef Association. Visit their website  and use code "EarlyBlackFriday23" to save $100 on premier, provisional, and preparatory memberships.

To learn more about membership, advertising, or partnership opportunities, call Angela at 800-995-2138 ext. 705 or email aprather@uspca.com.

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Chris Spear:

As many of you might know that I have my own personal chef business, which I started in 2010, and had been running full time for almost seven years now. When I was getting ready to start my business, I really had no idea where to start. So literally, the first thing I did was join the United States personal chef Association and take their course to learn how to get my business going. Today, I'm bringing it right back to where I started, because my guest is Larry Lynch, the President of the United States personal chef Association. And me, I'm Chris spear. And you're listening to Chefs Without Restaurants, the show where I speak with culinary entrepreneurs, and people working in the food and beverage industry outside of a traditional restaurant setting. I have 31 years of working in kitchens, but not restaurants. And I currently operate a personal chef business throwing dinner parties in the Washington DC area. I'll get this out of the way up front, the USPTA has sponsored the show for two years now. But this is not an infomercial for them. Being a personal chef myself, I knew that Larry and I could go a little deeper here and really provide value to those of you who want to build and grow a personal chef business. We discuss all the topics that people ask me about all the time, we get into food safety and regulations, cooking in your home and customer acquisition. We talk about branding, positioning and marketing. As a personal chef who doesn't do meal prep, I wanted Larry to sell me on why maybe I should reconsider that. So if you've never thought about doing meal prep, listen to what Larry has to say. And maybe give it some thought. If you've listened to the show for a while, you might have heard some of these discussions I've had with other guests before. But they're always interspersed with the story of the guest. This one is all about helping people with their personal chef business. Larry's worked with and seen literally over 1000 personal chefs come through his organization. This is the guy who has the information about the personal chef industry. Of course, we talked about the benefits of joining the personal chef association with their new hire chef website, people who are looking to hire personal chefs can go there and go through a database, they can find a chef either for their event or meal prep. It's a huge benefit if you're a member. And I have to say if you get just one customer to hire you that will literally pay for your dues in one shot. Think about how much money you make when you get one client do one dinner. It seems like a no brainer to me. But I promise you that there's no hard sell here. Larry genuinely wants to help people grow their personal chef businesses. And I think we have a great conversation that can really help you whether you're looking to start a personal chef business, or you have one already, and you're looking to take it to the next level. If you listen to the episode and think it was helpful, please share it with people. And if you listen didn't like it or have a different viewpoint, let me know as well. As always, you can find me on Instagram at Chefs Without Restaurants. Or you can send me an email at chefs without restaurants@gmail.com. And on the note of feedback, if you listen to podcasts on an app that allows ratings, something like Apple podcasts, I'd love it. If you just dropped in there and left a quick rating and review of my show. It really helps my show move up in the charts, which means that more people can find it, which means that I can keep doing the show and bringing more cool guests on and provide value to you. So I'm gonna get out of here, the show will be coming right up afterward from the US PCA who just shared a new discount code for my listeners. So if this episode has convinced you to join them, or maybe even if you're on the fence, now is the time to sign up. So you'll get all that info in the ad that is coming up right now. As always, thanks so much for listening and have a great week.

USPCA AD:

Are you a personal chef looking for support and growth opportunities? Look no further than the United States personal chef association with 1000 members across the US and Canada. USPCA provides liability insurance certification lead generation and more. Consumers can trust that their meal experience is ensured and supported by USPCA. And now until November 5, save $100 on premier, provisional, and preparatory memberships by using the code EarlyBlackFriday2023 at uspca.com. Plus, if you have products or services to sell chefs and their clients, showcase your business on hire a chef and the USPCA website with our great introductory packages. To learn more about membership advertising or partnership opportunities, call Angela at 1-800-995-2138. Extension 705 or email aprather@uspca.com

Chris Spear:

Hey, Larry, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Unknown:

Hey, Chris, thanks for the invitation. Thrilled to be here. Of course, as a personal chef myself, I'm really looking forward to having you on the show. I think we're gonna get some really great advice. You know, this is my thing. My whole career is being a personal chef. I started Chefs Without Restaurants because I wanted to bring I want to help people who are looking to maybe start this and you're the president of the United States personal chef Association. So, for our listeners, I hope they realize what the US PCA is because you've been a sponsor of this podcast for more than a year now. So thank you. I'm so appreciative for that. It seemed like a natural fit to me. I'm glad that it seemed like a fit for you and that we could have this partnership. Absolutely. No, we're excited by it. Truly. I mean, there's so many things happening right now in the industry, the chance to get that word out through us is just, it's fun. You guys have been around for so long. You know, I first took the course. I say in 2011 is when I started my personal chef journey. So I guess that's when I joined the US PCA. I was still working a job at Sodexo. I was kind of trying to figure out my exit strategy. And I had tinkered with being a personal chef Previously, I had done it through a catering company I was working for. But you know, I didn't know anything besides like, I'm gonna go to someone's house and cook for them. So I found the US PCA and it seemed like a natural fit for me. You know, how do you even do this and 2011 the landscape has changed immensely since 2011, which I'm sure you know about. And so I'm hoping today, this could be a kind of tactical conversation for those out there who are both personal chefs currently, or maybe thinking about doing it. I've said it's also a great side hustle, you know, for people who are just looking for some extra money, like it's something you can do successfully on the side. So I'd love to help people out today by getting some great info from you. I gotta share with you, too, one of the one of the fun facts. I bought the association in 2011. And there's a long story behind that. But we're celebrating our anniversary together, it looks like nice. Well, I guess you were probably doing something right, that got me right in the door, there must have been like, a shift in the vibe or something. before? Yeah, but I could just feel that the time was right. So you've been with them for quite a while now, what are some of the biggest changes you've seen in the personal chef space since 2011. Honestly, I think the biggest thing is the shift in people doing doing their meals in different ways, right. So it used to be all of your four by five, you know, the cook at home breakfast, cook at home dinner, or cook at home lunch. And now we're moving more into catering into parties into wine tastings. And the chef's really are branching out into all kinds of specialties. And I think part of the shift that has driven that, and it was just a pandemic, I remind people of this a lot people were already starting to nest more, you know, 2014 1516 going up to the pandemic, I like to share there's a reason people were buying 85 inch televisions, and it wasn't to have them sit there and look pretty in the house, they're spending more time at home and watching movies at home and they wanted to dine at home. And I think that shift just was just excel just accelerated the trend when when the pandemic hit that now people were kind of forced to stay at home and they discovered they hadn't done it before. There is this really cool dynamic of having a chef come to your house, whether it's for a party, and even then sometimes long distance, you know, I have to participate in a wine tasting from Italy during the pandemic. And friends of mine over there, and myself and a family and some others in Orlando, and then other friends of mine in Virginia and then remotely out of Italy and we had a blast. So that's okay. It just shows it demonstrates the changes. And I think it's the willingness is so many, so many shifts, to find better ways and new ways to do their business and try new things. One of the challenges I have is to kind of explain what I do to people because I still think there's people who think of private chef, like you're a rich family or a celebrity, and you have this person come in, and I've always wanted to sell my business as like a replacement for going out to eat on the higher end. You know, I don't do dinners for $35 ahead. But I always hate when I talk to people, especially once I know and they say, oh, maybe someday when I win the lottery, I'll hire you. I want to change that perception. Like you don't have to be a millionaire. You know, it's, it's gonna cost 100 plus dollars a person because that's what I do is I focus on multicourse dinners in people's homes. But I don't think that's out of reach. Is it for every night of the week? Absolutely not. But just kind of letting people know that it is just kind of an alternative to going out to eat. I think you pointed out the most important thing and that's driving your story. I think that's the best way for people to understand. I still deal with this all the time. I was just on the phone with a reporter maybe three weeks ago, and had pointed her to a couple of our chefs because she wanted a story about private chefs. And so I thought well, let me make sure she's asking the right question. And sure enough, she was thinking along the lines of celebrities and sports figures. And I came back and said no, you have to understand there's a difference between a private chef and a personal chef. And because she was pointing to us thinking we could drive that private chef message. But after I explained it to her, she was fascinated. And she talked to a couple of our chefs. And it turns out she's changing the whole direction of her story as a result of having those conversations, but I want to get back to the other and the thing whenever I have the chance to talk to people about this. I talked about you know, finding the association in 2011. And then shortly thereafter, my sister and she's a she just retired as a public school nurse out of New Jersey and my brother Well, only a very small but I say small to two person, company, vending machine company up there as well. And they weren't really good at their dining habits. And my sister wanted to get healthier. And she called me one day said, What's this personal chef thing? So I explained it to her. And after dishes, it's the first question I run mouth is, do you think I can afford one I saw that's between you and the chef. And I said, but I can help connect you with some chefs in your area. I'd say that was probably 2012 When that happened, and she still has a chef coming to her house every week. And she told me when the pandemic was in a panic when the pandemic started, and she said, How was she gonna be able to come to my house. And the irony of that, at that point, I had just finished writing operating guidelines for the National Restaurant Association to begin working on the pandemic operational guidelines. And I did the same thing for our members. You know, it wasn't that you were banned from somebody's house, it's how you did it to keep yourself safe and a family safe. And so they took that to heart. And as my sister said, she said, I'll give up anything before I give her up as our as our home chef. And I think it's being able to share that story. And our own stories of our own customers and our clients that we understand and help people understand. Let me give you an example of an everyday person just like you who selected me to come to your house and cook. And we just have to keep driving that message home. And I think that's where, you know, having a social media presence, having customer testimonials, but having photos, look at these, it's a it's a family, it's great. When there's ones with kids, I did a dinner two nights ago, and it was eight people and four of them were children. I mean, we're talking ages, you know, seven, 912, a teenager, a lot of dinners, they don't do that they you know, hire or they have, you know, pizza delivered, and the kids aren't part of it. But a lot of the dinners they do and these people were paying the same price. I don't do kids menus, like I'm not doing like a $30 kids dinner. It's just not what I've ever gotten into, but they had the kids at the table. So you know, I love that, get a picture of that. If they don't mind, you know, Can you post on social media and just say, hey, look, it's a family just like yours, you know, when they hired me to come in and do a dinner. You nailed it. And it's whether you're doing it on social media on your website, it's demonstrating that family look, the average American family, the average family, how they eat what they eat. And I think if you continue to drive that message, we know it's going to take us a while because look, at the end of the day, you know, these these networks that promote the stars, they're always going to be the first thing people look at. And of course, they immediately think Chef, that's all I can afford. We just have to continue to drive that message. Otherwise, I think we've made a lot of headway in the last couple of years with the pandemic that has helped us. But there's lots of room to go still. Well, my two best years financially have still been 2020 and 2021. Because there was a huge shift of, you know, I wasn't eating out in restaurants, I have two immunocompromised seniors who live with me my in laws, I had two young kids who weren't vaccinated, I wasn't going out to eat and the same thing these people were talking about pods, everyone had a pod, you know, their group of eight friends. So they felt comfortable together and you do a dinner party for eight people. Now, me I was scared out of my mind, because I'm still going in their home, I don't do drop off. So um, you know, kn 95, with a cloth mask over my face, you know, you talked about best practices, I made a video posted on YouTube, and then embedded it on my website and put on social media about my practices for COVID safety. You know, I used to bring all my own China into people's homes and linens, that was something I changed. I said, I'm gonna come to a dinner but because I wash everything in my house, even if you use a commercial kitchen for cooking, I don't take stuff back there to wash. So it's like my wife and I are talking about do we want to take all these people's, you know, saliva coated dishes and silverware and wash them in our house? No, do we want to be washing their, you know, the linen napkins in our dishwasher in our laundry machine at home? No. So, you know, from early on figuring out what my business looked like, and how I could keep it going in a way that I wanted. And, you know, I found a way thankfully, I know a lot of people didn't. And, you know, it's but it's changed the landscape of dining, I think forever in a number of ways. But I think you hit on something there that is critical to the success of this business, you found a way to shift right to the pandemic happened, you recognize that you still needed to work, there was still opportunities, you shifted the way you did it. And I think that's where sometimes chefs tend to struggle is is the old Einstein theory, I'm going to keep doing the same thing the same way but expect a different result. We're hard hand and Well, everybody is That's just human nature. But I think your ability, as you talked about it to realize, okay, I'm going to do this differently. You know, I'm going to have my can 95 masks, I'm going to have a cloth mask, I'm gonna go to the house, I'm gonna shift how we do cleaning. But at the end of the day, I'm still gonna be able to service people who want to be able to eat at home. And I think that that really nails it, you know, and now we're taking a look at one of the things we're seeing more and more of is delivery. You know, the big question is, what does that mean for a personal chef perspective? What does that mean in terms of access to a commercial kitchen? And of course, the thing that I'm always worried about, you know, when we open the doors to health inspectors decided to knock on our customers homes and say, I'm going to look at your customers kitchen. That's a good one. And this one's going to be further down on my question list, but I want to talk Got that now because I, this is something that when I have guests on, they don't want to talk about. And you know, one of the gray areas is, there's a lot of people cooking in their homes, there's a lot of personal chefs who I know are making food at their house and showing up at someone's house because they're not, you know, we're not under the scrutiny. My local Department of Health says a personal chef is someone who prepares food in your home, they're not a caterer, they don't have a license, do your own due diligence, but we're not a part of the equation, right. And especially when you're first starting out, and maybe it's just a side hustle. I mean, I get it if I'm, if I've never done this, and I want to start, and my next door neighbor is having a birthday, I may be cooking, I may be preparing the food in my house and going to my next door neighbor, you know, to do the dinner to get practice. If you're a decade in and you're, you know, still cooking food in your house and taking it to strangers, that's a different situation, which I know happens. So talk about that a little bit. And it does vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it seems like some places they care, some they don't. I've had two recent guests on my podcast who are hosting pop ups out of their home, one of whom has been doing it for a decade, without any harassment and publicize it on social media. It's like, how are you? How are you having people into your home doing dinner parties twice a week for a decade without the harassment of the Department of Health? So can you speak to that a little bit? I mean, I think you nailed it. It's so many different laws in so many different places in so many different regulations. I was just looking at this this last week, we have one of our members in California, who sent me a note because she had some questions about one of their kitchen laws. And this is not cottage foods, this was what you can serve and sell and serve from your kitchen. And they have made some changes, but it's not California wide, it really leaves the decisions up to each individual county. And most counties like LA have opted out of participating in it. So if you're in those particular counties, you've got to be able to figure out how you're gonna get that to work in your business. Here's what I think I see happening though, is public health is paying more and more attention to foodborne illness. There's a lot of pressure coming out of the Food and Drug Administration. You know, this is something in my other life that I'm looking at every day of the week. And clearly, I think that pressure coming in to look at foodborne illness. There's there's a new movie out right now called poisoned. I know a lot of the people who are in it, and it's just kind of interesting to watch. Thankfully, it really has nothing to do with us. It is more more so on the production end. But I think we have to be be understanding that if that focus is there, how can we demonstrate that we're keeping people safe? I think that's the key for our industry is are we doing everything in our power, you know, whether it's talking allergens, whether it's talking foodborne illness, whether it's talking sanitation, that everything we're doing, if it's coming out of our home, is designed to keep people safe. When in my other world, I think you know, I also worked for the National Restaurant Association. And early in the pandemic, one of the things we're trying to do is figure out what happens with this takeout and delivery because really was like the Wild West and 2020. And we started studying it and work closely with the CDC and the FDA. And as we did that, one of the things we started to understand is it really was incumbent on the restaurant tour, to help drive the safety factory, we were concerned with the delivery services and who was handing off. But the restaurants took the proactive approach to make sure that bags were taped, things were closed that a driver had no access to because we fought like the dickens with these companies. And because of the way they're structured, they don't want to mandate any training for the drivers because that will affect their employees. And there was that whole legal aspect they were dealing with. And we were just concerned make sure that the restaurants could serve food and not get somebody sick. I think from a personal chef world, we're looking at the same thing I think the little things we paying attention to is what's in our kitchens that were potentially that are potentially hazardous that can impact Do we understand enough about time and temperature, that when food is getting delivered to a home, that is still safe when it gets there and that it's it's either kept cold when it gets there, it's kept hot when it's get there. And it's the same thing in between the more and more that our members and personal chefs can pay attention to that I think it opens the door. And I think that's why certainly from a legislative standpoint, and as I've talked to legislators around the country, they're very sensitive to small businesses and small businesses being successful, which is why they've kind of left his doors somewhat open. The pressure on the other side tends to come from public health. I was just reading some legal brief, not late I think was just late last week, just talking about all the different case law there is that keeps public health officials from going into someone's personal home and inspect. So I certainly keep that at the ready just in case somebody tends to go a little bit out a little bit too far from a health inspection perspective. But I do think we've got one toe in the water doing this. And I think we just have to be diligent and being able to demonstrate everything we're doing with the profession. And this is where I get scared, right? Because you have a lot of people hold themselves out as a personal chef, with little training a little background. They know nothing about food safety, but they cook for moms somewhere and they think gosh, I can jump in and do this as well. And here's what I worry about is some other things. Usually it hasn't been our members. But I've seen small catered events where there's been a foodborne illness outbreak because someone didn't know what they're doing. And so the challenge we have is that it's all of us this result, because it just cast a pall over everybody who's in this industry that will that one didn't know it, none of them know it. And that's why we we just are so emphatic, you know, we, if you're gonna be a member of us SPCA, you have to have a food safety credential. You know, there's additional training you have to have, because we recognize that we want to keep people safe. And we want to speak to the profession.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I am not for over regulation. I do worry that, you know, this could be a strictly regulated industry at some point. But I do see that point, as well as that. It's great that there's no, you know, barrier to entry, and that anyone can do it. And you could do it on the side. But like you said, my next door neighbor, who's an accountant could also just decide tomorrow, that he wants to dabble in being a personal chef, because his friends say he's so great. I have 31 years experience in the food world, I got my first ServSafe in 1994. And I've had it concurrently since then, I know what I'm doing. For my personal chef business. I don't do any foraging. I don't do any fermenting. I don't do any su vida like all those even though I know what I'm doing. I still think that that is a risky endeavor. And something I don't want to get into. But I know a lot of people who are making fermented goods at their home, and then taking them as part of their dinner. Like, there's just so many areas where things could go sideways, that I've never wanted to get into any of those potential things. And yes, everyone can be a personal chef these days. And I've seen the market get flooded, which is where, you know, I think you you've got to do your thing and do a great job about communicating why you're a good choice. And if that means putting your credentials out there letting everyone know, I've been doing this a long time. I have been through numerous, you know, food service trainings, I also use that sometimes when people talk cost, because you know, there's always the cost. Oh, there's other personal chefs out there, do this for $30 A dinner, I can't speak about their business model, why they're doing it for that how they can charge that all I know is what I need, you know, this is my full time job what I need to get paid to make a living, but also like, you know how many times people have called me or emailed me, like three days out saying like, Oh, my personal chef canceled? Can you do a dinner? It's like, yeah, you know, like, I'm not the guy who's gonna bounce on you three days before dinner. But yeah, just kind of seeing what some people are out there doing is kind of scary. So it'll be interesting to see how this gets regulated, if any, in the future.

Unknown:

Yeah, I think I think to your point, right, I think that's, there's lots of risks. I'm not one is big on regulation, either. And there's lots of risks that come with that. The flip side of that, of course, is then the narrative wells, like you talk about, tend to fall by the wayside if they have to follow a different set of rules. So you kind of scratch your head and figure where's that happy middle ground. And we haven't figured that out yet. But what I worry about is that it'll come as a result of someone making a major mistake, that's going to be a problem for the rest of us. And so if there's one thing that keeps me awake at night, that's one of the things that keeps me awake at night. Yes. And it is great that you're there to help people, you know, start these businesses. And a lot of times people don't have experience. That's something I've seen shift in a number of years, as well as you're seeing more chefs leaving restaurants and you know, stuff to start this. Whereas when I took the course, I felt like I was one of the few in the room because I did an in person course over two or three days, I think. And I'm not someone who now likes to like gatekeeping, the term chef, but I'll tell you, one of the things that kind of irritated me at the time is I'm in this room with these people. I felt like I was one of the few chefs in there. And I remember them saying something about marketing, like, yeah, well just get yourself a chef coat and put it on and do your grocery shopping. And when someone asks you, you know what you do you tell them I'm a chef and give them a card. I'm thinking, that's all you have to do to become a chef. Like, I went to Johnson and Wales I have a four year bachelor's, I've been busting my ass for 25 years. And Sally can just put on a coat and call herself a chef and remember how annoyed that made me at the time. And over the past decade, I've kind of loosened up on that and said like, yeah, you know, I guess if she goes through the training, I just found it really interesting. These people literally had no experience cooking were all of a cell all of a sudden going out and calling themselves a chef. Because the interesting thing about that too is I've seen the same thing. They don't always last in business because while they they have a limited knowledge about cooking you also have limited knowledge about running a business. And I think that's where I also see people struggle is in understanding all the elements of running a business I have three blog posts right now in the waiting for the next couple of weeks to push out on just those types of topics. Because people forget that part of it. You know there's there's one thing to understand and limit what you can do with cooking. And there's another thing altogether to turn that into a business and I find when they come into this gone by cook for grandma, therefore I must be good. Yeah, it It doesn't last very long. We typically discourage those people from joining and becoming personal chefs until they at least have gained some additional experience. What's your marketing look like? How are you acquiring customers? What do you know about food costing? What do you know about food safety, all those things that come into running a business? You know, exactly, I came from very high volume, I worked at Sodexo, I worked for IKEA, I worked for these global brands, I was an executive chef, you know, cranking out 1000s of meals a day, I had some experience. And not to say that, you know, that made me more suited than others. But I do see people, especially from restaurants, too, right? Because that was a big shift. After the pandemic, you were, you know, executive chefs maybe have experienced, but you'd have like a sous chef, or lead line cook who was furloughed or something, and now they're gonna go do this, but it's like, well, in your day job, you're not really doing the food cost, you know, you're working at a exclusive restaurant where like, you're not necessarily paying to food, paying attention to food costs as much because you're making a ton on alcohol or, you know, whatever. Now, like, what is your business actually look like? So it's it's tricky. I mean, like anything, it's it's a business completely, completely, we see the same thing.

Chris Spear:

Well, it's not inexpensive to start your own business, any business, not just this business. And you know, one of the things is that, you know, to join the US, PCA costs a couple 100 bucks, I think when you're starting a business, you know, you have to really assess everything. So what's the ROI for people who maybe don't want to or don't feel they have the money to join? What would you tell them?

Unknown:

I kind of break it down into, you know, if you're drinking Starbucks every day, it's less than your annual costs for Starbucks, and what does it return. So obviously, you know, your your core liability insurance, which is what 90% of our members look at, is included. But I think the addition of hire a chef now is we've revised it, and all the social media tools tied to that. So you're talking about before you're paying for leads? Well, this comes with and one of our members mentioned to me not too long ago, and she has been an active member for a long time, call me says I don't know what the heck you do with hire chef, they keep doing it, because I'm getting more leads than they ever got before. And we want to continue to push that, obviously, it's a two way street. The thing that I'm going to bang my head against the wall some days is when I look up a member, and all I see is that gray shadow where a picture of it should be and their name, they've not filled in the information. And I think so. So we remind members on a regular basis, we have a team call every Monday and we kind of walk through some of these things that are missing, we just had ours yesterday, some of the social media stuff that we should be doing, we're adding a meeting with somebody to borrow, to begin to add a more aggressive social media campaign. But it really is that our ability to drive the awareness of the members of the chef members, for members to get leads as part of their duties, the insurance component, the access to information we brought, we've got a library of probably about 30 web webinars we've done over the years, we can continue to add that library that's accessible for members. So really, that's kind of a one stop shop, to engage with the members. And I think the other piece was just that engagement with other members, our newest newsletter is going out this morning, it hits 945, depending on what time zone you're in, so I already got it and checked it out this morning. There you go. And so we talked about some of that in the newsletter, right? We talked about some of those things that you can be doing to begin to push your business. And that's part of what we're gonna be putting out every week. And but the connection piece is the other part. You know, we have one of the chapters, the DC chapter featured in there this week, that ability to connect with people of like minds to share information. You know, I've told people I've been in the association world since 1980. Sale old I am but 1981. And we're American Society of Association Executives. Now, I will tell you, I can't tell you a single tangible benefit. Because I've been around for so long that I get out of ASC and more probably because I don't need them. But what I do have is a connectivity with people of like mine when I have a question or concern or how did you do that I have a host of people who I can call. And sometimes that by itself is worth it. Because as an entrepreneur, you're it. I remind members, you're the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, you are everything. And that can be lonely. Sometimes you're running a business or you're just not quite sure. So our face the word lonely in almost every podcast episode I talked about. You know what I'm saying? And so our Facebook Group is a great way to reach out. It's all there. I don't mind saying this now, because we have a relationship here. But I kind of started Chefs Without Restaurants for some of the things I felt were missing in the US PCA back when I joined which was you now have higher chef which you know, I want to talk a little bit more about but I wasn't getting leads at the time again, it was 2011 What I really wanted were leads because that's that's the bread and butter like how do I get customers? How do I make money? Meanwhile, I was finding that you know, I was getting leads from other chefs in my network here locally, and then I was having opportunities to share and I didn't know what to do with them. So I started a Facebook group to Hear those, and then also having community that was really important to me. So having our own Facebook group where we could talk about, like, how are you getting leads, or what are some trends are helped me, you know, helped me with this. But I didn't want to limit it just a personal chef. So that's why it's Chefs Without Restaurants, it's food trucks, it's caterers, you know, people working in r&d. There's a lot of synergy there. But a lot of what I started was because I felt like it was missing from the USPSA. And I'm really glad to see that. I feel like so much of that has come forward in recent years, and you guys have really started to make a priority of that. So for those who didn't really catch it, like hire chef is now a place where customers can come right, they're looking for a personal chef. And then there's a database of USPSA members, and then they can kind of go and reach out to them directly is that hire chef. That's I think the simplest, right. But I think more than that, I think there's a social aspect that we've built into hire a chef now where it's what you can post that your blog post, it's the social media connections that take place there. So so it's a chance to make sure that as you're pushing your, your brand into the marketplace, Irish chef becomes one of the key ways to be able to do that and pivot point right back at you. And so it's kind of all encompassing, it's I don't want to call it HootSuite. But to a certain degree, it's, it's where I can plug in all my social media capabilities and have it in one place where people can find me at no additional cost. And we think about some of those other generic lead generators. Even the ones that are free, they don't have that much social tool, it is filling that fill in a few blanks, we can go deep into a chef's background, it's listing the kinds of foods it's everything that a consumer could possibly want, and drive them there to make sure they buy. Well, there's still the question comes up in all the personal chef Facebook groups about like, what do you guys think of Thumbtack? What do you what do you think of all these things? You know, I used it when I started. And you know, got me some customers, but you know, you weren't always you're paying for leads that didn't even always turn into customers, right? I don't know, how familiar are with like, thumbtack, but you could pump$30 $30 just to send a bid out to a customer who then ghosts you and then there was conversation about like, Are these even real customers? Or is it someone on the inside kind of sending these things and just like at the end of the year doing my taxes, I'm like, Man, I spent like $3,000 and thumbtack leads. And if you look now at what it costs for a year's membership to the USPSA. Like, that's one dinner for me, you know when you're right, yeah, you know, when you're charging, you know, my minimum is like$400, at the very minimum. And average dinner for me is like 1015 $100, if you got one job that would cover like years of your membership cost. And that's where I tell people when you look at these, I'm a big fan of like local Chamber of Commerce says I don't get a ton of business from them. But again, if it's 200 $300 a year, if it gets me one dinner that pays for more than the whole year's membership. I do point out to its members that it's important to engage in things like local chambers, some of the charity, I've been a member of Rotary International for years. I'm past president of one of our clubs in Orlando. But but one of things I always told people that we have professionals come in, you have maybe 20 minutes to a half an hour to speak at a breakfast meeting, but 990 pretty engaged business leaders in the community. And I always watch people go up and surround them afterwards and exchange cards. And even if it's only a half a dozen people, you know, sales is all about a pipeline. I just spoke at my local chamber. I was there a couple of weeks ago, and I had four or five emails that afternoon from people after I went and talked. Well, and that's what happens because people no truly understand what a personal chef is. And they get the affordability piece. Right. I mean, it's I'm not saying no, I'm not saying any expensive. It's the affordability always mind people. It's not about cheap. It's about affordable. And, and that's the most important thing. Consider I think you may have caught one of the articles in this week's newsletter where I pointed out something from CNBC, our restaurants are charging so much more. And patrons aren't balking at it. So are people looking at their p&l is to make sure that they're they're charging the right amount for customers? But why do people have so much trouble paying for food? You know, is it because you grocery shop every week and you have an idea of what the raw cost is like, when you I take my car in for an oil change and it's $90 it's like, oh, this is what I have to do. And by the way, I'm there and they find that a windshield wipers out so I say go ahead and fix it like a windshield wiper is like $15 but they're gonna charge me $70 To put it on and you're just like, oh, I guess that's what it takes to take care of a car but then people start asking about the price and you know why it's so expensive and I had a guy tell me last week that's what I paid to take my family to Morimoto and Vegas. I'm like, like, okay, like I don't know what to tell him. I'm bringing Obregon Morimoto to us so guess what it's you know, it's it's really it's really interesting that conversation around pricing and again, I do think it's because like, you know, you go grocery shopping every week. You know that chicken thighs cost you know, 249 a pound but this guy is charging 100 bucks for like four cars dinner and chicken thighs are the entree like I could make that at home. And to that, I'd say, well then make it at home. Always my people, though, it's also about the experience. And I think that's what people tend to forget.

Chris Spear:

Well, you bring up an interesting point, because you talked about it being an experience, which I think can be challenging for some of the chef's. And that's one of the things I talked about, when people asked me about some of the challenges, I think a lot of us got into kitchens and cooking, because we like the idea of being back of the house, you're cooking, you're creating, you don't have customer interaction. And I say, now, you know, realizing that it's the service, it's the show, even more so in my opinion than the food and I don't know that everyone is ready for that, or, you know, that's their wheelhouse, right, a lot of them want to be in the kitchen in their zone. And I say, you know, you're in these people have these beautiful kitchens, and you're centerstage. And their kids are running around in their, you know, cats on the counter. And, you know, they're playing loud music and drinking, and they're asking you 100 things, and in your head, you're trying to think, Okay, this is in the oven that's got to come out in this time. And I got to do this. And then oh, what are you doing, and it's a lot. And if you're not used to that, if you've even if you work in an open kitchen, I don't think you have the interaction like you do here. And it takes a lot of practice. And I don't think that is for everyone. If you're not ready to be center stage, I mean, if you're doing the meal prep stuff, or deliveries, drop offs, great. But if you're going to be doing dinners in people's homes, you are there for the show, which I also love because we are not really the help anymore. I worked in catering for a number of years, I remember there was a repeat client that I used to go to her house, and like you came through the back door, like she's entertaining out there, like she did not want you to go out as the chef, like, I worked for catering company. So there were servers and the people in the tuxedo shirts were the ones to go out there. And the chef would not walk into her living room. And now it's like, Oh, I've got a personal chef, like come on in and talk to the chef. He loves, you know, ask them questions. And that has been such a shift in 15 years. I still get some of the year the help my wife and I joke about was this a fun dinner? Or was this a help dinner, you know, I live in the DC area. You know, it's not all about me, I don't need the ego of being that. But there's definitely some dinners, especially as you get into the political circuit of Washington DC, you do some of these dinners at some nice houses, and they always pay really well. But you can tell you are just there for the food. Sometimes they don't even care about the food, I'm amazed at like, you put down the steak that just the steak alone costs, you know, $20 and they take two bites, and then it's just like, scrape it into the bin like they're just there for some meeting and the food is secondary. They're not my favorites, though they do pay the bills.

Unknown:

It's true that I think people forget about that. That component of it. It's kind of funny, you mentioned DC and that political circuit. My former boss at the restaurant association, retired in 2019. She and I were at a retreat together. And we're sitting there talking and she was kind of lamenting because she had to a dinner party coming up in July, and her husband was badgering her to find a chef and you can imagine if you're CEO of the National Restaurant Association, you can probably find a restaurant chef to come to your house. And she kind of stopped mid sentence he looks at me says wait a minute. You own the United States personal chef Association. I said, Yep, let's hook you up. Long story short, the day after seven o'clock in the morning, I get a phone call. And she is just raving about how wonderful the evening was at her house, and so forth. And I think when people get that chance to actually experience the experience, it is such a win. I think for 90% of the people, I think you pointed to a to that. It's it's exhausting for the chef, because unlike a commercial kitchen, you're on stage the entire time you are part of the event. It's I would say it's rare, I'm becoming more and more rare that you know, go back into kitchen and don't be seen. I think television has certainly played a big role in that we've gone from just being the Food Network. Now, pretty much every network, having some kind of food shows in some way, shape or form on them. And all that plays into it. When I say the celebrity of a chef, not so much celebrity chef, but rather celebrating the importance of the personal chef. And but I think that also helps, right and understands that people come from lots of backgrounds to become a personal chef, but also really good cooking takes a lot of work and a lot of creativity. So there's a lot to be said for the chance to engage during during an event.

Chris Spear:

Well, people might not realize it because I have a podcast I talk to people all the time. But I identify as an introvert and I find all of it exhausting. You know, it's already physically exhausting, because I'm doing a dinner and I've spent all day and days before getting ready. And then you're there and you have to kind of put on a show face right? And I do find that like, I love getting in the car and just putting on music or podcasts and putting the windows down and kind of decompressing a little bit because it is a lot to kind of be on stage and you're there for such an extended period of time over multiple courses and talking to multiple people that I don't really want to talk to anyone and as soon as that's over, you know,

Unknown:

you're just like me it's called extroverted. introvert, I'll be out there as long as long as I'm on. But boy, the moment I have a chance to turn off, goodbye, I'm gonna go go off to a corner by myself and hide.

Chris Spear:

The same with these podcasts. I think I've got the energy right now I'm bringing it. And as soon as I log off, I just need to chill. I actually have another recording, but it's not until 130 today, so you get a break a little time. Yeah, I got a break. It's time to decompress. So I've exclusively done in home dinners. That's what I wanted to do. I position myself as a restaurant experience in your home. I notoriously hate the idea of meal prep. I've never actually tried it.

Unknown:

But it's something that I'm opposed to for some reason. You know, I like to plating I like to bring my own China. I just like I like the hospitality. I liked entertaining. Could you sell me on why maybe I should rethink meal prep for those out there. Because I hear this from a lot of people. It seems like there's two camps there's that people say, like meal prep is your meal ticket. Like it's consistent work, you get the money, and then others are like, No, I'm a restaurant chef. And I want to have like, really nice plated stuff. Can you can you talk a little bit about what you see with like meal prep and how that works. I think it's fine to blend, it really depends on your customer and what they're looking for, I think, to the extrovert introvert part, the good part is you don't have to be on stage the entire time. But I think it serves a very specific need for the families that are still on the go possibly, you know, the dual income, no kids, the people who just need something waiting for themselves when they get home. They don't necessarily have to have an event. And let me use my sister again is that good example because here's somebody who, you know, love pizza, my ironically, we're Italian, Irish, I'm the one in the family who cooks, my sister hates to be in a kitchen, she's got a great kitchen tastes to be in it. But her personal chef is there every week preparing meals for the two of them. stacks or refrigerator stacks or freezer leaves a list of what we know what menu for each day and tied to it. It's great. Stephanie has a key to the house. You know, fee walks the dog in between time when she's doing things. I mean, she's part of the family. So it's a different kind of experience, though the experience, one of trust. My sister, I remember I went up to visit her one time and she was just so happy. She was taking long walks, he was losing weight, you know, all the things, all the things that she had been setting his goals for the longest time, it just hadn't been hadn't been able to achieve. She's now achieving, I think it really is that thing that says I can get in kind of be by myself, do my thing. Cook, stack it away, I've developed relationships with one or two clients. But I can come and go, right. It's nothing where I'm having to worry about cleaning up and engaging. If I don't want to be out there all the time. It's a great way to get in maintain living and you know what is steady. So if you get a client like my sister pays every week, and stuff, he's in there every week preparing. So you've got something, you know, on a regular basis, it's recurring income, versus I don't know when my next big event is going to come up. So I'm not quite sure where I'm going to be able to get the money from and you're going to charge well for it. But who says you can't do that weekly prep and then supplement it with the others. So there's a nice income stream to the weekly events. Because that's how I feel is you know, with the dinners, I've talked to people about the pricing structure, like how much can you really charge for, you know, meatloaf on a Tuesday for two people or even four people. It's like, if I'm gonna go out and make one to $2,000 in one night, like I'd rather work less and less hard. Instead of like the grind of working five days a week and doing this to pick up a couple $100 Here and there. It's like, I want to get my marketing and advertising on point that like, yes, maybe I only work one day this week, but I made $1,500 Like, isn't that what I would have made doing five days of meal prep. So like, for me figuring out that balance for me. For me, it was more like, I felt like the creativity wouldn't be there. Like the food. You know, when I do dinner parties, it's my menus, I'm proposing to you what I want. And I might not be the right chef for you. But this is my style. It's like you go to this restaurant, when you want Thai you go to this restaurant when you want pizza. Like I want to have my own distinct menus, which I think is really interesting with the personal chef thing because people still kind of come to you sometimes and say like, I'll get a lead like it's my wife's anniversary, and I want to have filet mignon and twice make mashed potatoes and cheese. It's like, like, you haven't even seen my menu, can you pump the brakes a little bit like and try to explain to them not from an ego standpoint, or I can't do that. Like, I want people to come to me because they're interested in my food, my cooking my style. Like I don't do homemade pasta. I just it's something I have never really mastered I don't feel comfortable doing. And when people come and say that that's something they want to tell them. You know, I don't do that. Like here's people who do that. I can procure a very good pasta made by somebody else, but not trying to take all the business I think that's something that sometimes everyone's like, I'll just take the job and figure it out and then that doesn't necessarily go well like I've had people approach. I don't do sushi sushi. I'm not touching it love to eat sushi. I'm just not messing with it in people's homes but I wanted to create an identity for my business and kind of what I was good at and my wheelhouse and not just be like, instead of going out to the Olive Garden, like, I don't want to go make chicken parm in people's homes, like, I can do chicken parm and make it delicious. But what's the point? You could go somewhere else? I want you to hire me, because this is like my specialties. Right? Well, and that's your brand, right? I mean, at the end of the day, we remind people that importance of personal branding, you know, you can't be all things to everybody, nobody can. And I think that the challenge is when you start to go out there and start to try and do that, instead, you become mediocre at everything, instead of good at a few things. And part of this, like anything and sales, because that's kind of what you're doing is selling is helping people to understand what they want to buy. It's, you know, if I show up at a Chevy dealership, and I want to buy, you know, a Ferrari, you're gonna have to explain to me, Well, you showed up the Chevy dealership, so let me tell you, but let me tell you what we have. It's almost like a Ferrari, and get you there. But it's my specialty car. When I look at my website, the number one thing that drives traffic to my website is people are searching for cooking classes near me. I do not love cooking classes. I like it. So what So but what I do is I say it's an experiential, somewhat interactive dinner, I do not want to just go and teach you how to bake bread, or make pies or whatever. I want you to be in the kitchen and ask me questions. I can bring recipes and give them to you. Every time I've tried to do a lesson where I bring cutting boards or whatever, you know what happens? Zero people help. I talked about this all the time. I've done no prep. And that's like, Okay, it's time to make the soup time to cut onions. And these ladies are sitting there with their nails holding their glass of wine. And they're like, cut onions. Yeah, you guys wanted a cooking lesson. We're making soup. Here we go. I just I just decided it's not right for me. But it's hard because people search for me for cake for cooking lessons, right? Also people search for me for catering, which is a weird ground because Am I really a caterer or if you're doing small dinner parties, the Department of Health would tell me I'm not because I actually don't have a catering license right now, which is something I'm rethinking right. So I'm not supposed to use the word catering in my marketing. But how do I get people to my website, because people aren't always looking for personal chef for so many years that didn't even exist. So I have to kind of get the people however, they're finding me and then shift them into what I do. It's like, oh, well, you're looking for cooking lessons, I don't really do that. But here's what we do. You know, we'll, I'll bring recipes and you can hang out in the kitchen. And sure, if you want to, like, you know, learn how to sear the steak, I'll do that. But it's just been really interesting how to position myself and to tailor the marketing around what people are already looking for. I think you've nailed what becomes a struggle for a lot of chefs, is their fear of losing the business and saying no to something, I think what you're saying is right on target. So you're listening to a customer, and you're hearing what they want. And then you're being able to then transform that into okay, I hear what you're saying. And let me explain to you how I can make this work for you. Versus Okay, I'll do it. Even though I may never have done a cooking lesson in my life, I may come in and absolutely botched the event, which is going to hurt me in the long run as a business owner. And it again, it kind of damages the awareness of personal chefs versus that ability to say, I hear you but let me tell you, and again, I'm gonna go back to another whole world of mine. I remember when I was running Disney Institute, and one of our salespeople was really struggling with it with a particular client just didn't, you know, but this is this is what they said they want. And so I said, Well, let me join you for a call. And so I get on the call with the customer. And I said, Okay, so if we had something that did this, would this work? Okay, if we have somebody that did that, would that work and was kind of leading them down this path as I'm listening to them. And then I said, Okay, I hear what you're saying. So if we can do this, this and this, it's actually a program called X, which was not what they were calling her to know. We want to buy this. She could hear in there, what they were saying that, okay, I know what this what they want to buy. But I know that's not what they really want. It's guiding them in that way. And that's really where and this is, again, one of the challenges, right becoming a personal chef, get to be a salesperson to your you're not just in the kitchen. I think that's where so many people struggle is realizing, I've got to be able to educate my customers, I've got to be able to cook the meal, I've got to manage the finances, these are all part of running a business. It's a lot of fun, because you don't have anybody looking over your shoulder. You know, you're not doing like I do every day and sitting in long meetings. You know, it's more of the time, you know, the marketing, finding people, but yeah, it's great. My kids are home this summer. And yesterday, my son and I were watching predator while I was sitting on the couch with my laptop and I'm working on a menu for customer because that's something I can do. You know, like I have template menus. So you know, we can do that. I can't do it every day while I'm cooking. But it's nice. You know, I'm home so much during the day that I can, you know, watch them but also work on some of the admin pieces. But that's great admin pieces are huge. I mean, because people are not just coming in the door finding you unnecessarily like you have to be out there hustling and whatever that means and I think you can overdo it. I'd say like find what works for you. But like going back to The reputation thing I work a lot with Airbnb, which has been phenomenal vacation rentals. I've done whole podcast episodes on that. But there was one that I locally worked with a lot. And I hadn't been getting business for a while. And I reached out to her because I personally know her and I said, Hey, Don, I have a question. I haven't been at your place in like a year and a half what's going on? She said, I don't I don't recommend it anymore. I said, like mine. And she said, Any ones I said, why? And she said, we have this guy here. And he was it was just a mess. She said, You know, he did this dinner, and there was rice all over the place. And it just wasn't good. And you know, I'm not getting anything out of this, I'm not charging a referral fee. And, you know, then I'm paying people to clean the house. And they're having to spend more time with that. And now when people reach out, I just say, you know, just go to Wegmans and order some catering trays. And that like, just killed me. I was like, Oh, my God, like, this has been my bread and butter for years. First of all, I didn't understand why I'm like, well, has it ever been mean? She's like, No, you're great. I'm like, well, if I'm great, why are you sending everyone to the grocery store? But yeah, you hear things like that. And you just never know why you know, why you're getting business or why you're not. And I think, staying on top of that. So for me, it was reaching out to all these Airbnbs I'd been at just to kind of touch base and say like, either Hey, thanks for all the business, I've been cooking your place a lot? Or hey, you know, just curious, like, I haven't been in your place for a while,

Chris Spear:

like, are you still in operation? Or is there anything I can do to help? You know, you know, spread the word, like promote your business, you promote mine kind of, and it, you know, you get a lot of insight from doing that. And I think it's easy to get complacent. And I'm doing a whole podcast episode on kind of complacency in your business. And that's going to be a solo episode, I'm dropping really soon, it might have already come out by the time this airs. But just, you know, I think it's easy to rest on your laurels a little bit.

Unknown:

And, you know,

Chris Spear:

I've had to remind myself that like, what got me to where I was, was that I was hungry. And I you know, I hustled and I did some things, and then the business comes in almost automatically, and then you take your foot off the gas a little bit. You know, one of the things I realized was like seven Airbnbs that I operated out of closed went out of business or sold to someone else. So as you start to see like the decline, it's like, Oh, what, like what happened? Why am I not getting business here? Like, oh, I used to go to mortgage Hall in Middleburg. You know what the woman who owned it sold it. So it's still an operation. But there's a new owner who doesn't know anything about me and I was at this Airbnb and the people decided to, you know, convert it back to a home business. But one by one you don't notice like the die off. I think it's easy to kind of forget what made you successful and and then you kind of scramble when you need it. And I've had a little bit of that lately, not that business is bad. But just noticing some of it drops off a little bit.

Unknown:

Yeah, he said that inflection point, right, where you're not really noticing it. And then all of a sudden, when you realize that it's taking that dip, you've lost more than you thought you had lost. And that ability to jump in there quickly and rebuild becomes even more challenging. And of course, it gets more troubling when you're up against competition, the TV and questionable as you're as you're sharing that story that chef to come in and rice all over the floor, I can think myself, every day, we're talking to chefs that could become potential members, and we hear what gosh, we don't want to pay $325. And I hear you saying you spent 3000 Just in thumbtack ads in a year. So I'm thinking, the small investment to connect, I know how active the DC chapter is, for example, to have other chefs that you can connect with that, that even if you're not in a chapter in the Facebook group, you know, the fact that I always remind chefs might talk to them. You know, there's a reason that I pay for a toll free phone number is because whether it's me, it's Angela, it's bins were accessible. And if we if you can't find the person that has the answer, we probably can so call us. And so when I think about somebody that's done such a sloppy job, that they probably are, they never had the experience, they didn't know what to do, and they went in and they just create a horrible, horrible experience or personal chefs, I think that's what we all have to focus on. on changing. That's the dynamic I think of Well, it's an easy, it's an easy business to get into. It's not an easy business to stay in. And I think that's where the challenge comes in. I've seen you know, again, with the COVID years, I've seen a lot of them start and then a lot of them stop. It's like a lot of things like podcasting. I started my podcast in November 2019 They exploded when everyone was home and had nothing to do and then it's kind of like okay, this thing's run its course and I'm out and that I've seen a lot of that with a personal chef thing you know, whether they were laid off or just looking for extra money, a lot of it ramped up and and now you check some of those people's social medias. They've gone dormant since you know, like December 21, or something like that, like very short lived, but it is still continuing to grow. I mean, I see people every day everyday people are reaching out to me for advice and looking to get into it. So besides joining us PCA what's one great piece of advice for people out there looking to start their own personal or private chef business? Take the time to understand what it takes to run a business. And when I say that understand all the elements of finance. You know, as an association, I always remind people we can't talk about pricing When I share with people, I don't look good in stripes. So please don't ever talk about pricing, but do understand profit loss. And don't be afraid to charge your value. Yes, the other piece too is the chef is so afraid that someone's going to say, Oh, I don't want to pay that, understand and learn how to counter that. And that's where we're meeting other steps. How do you counter that conversation, when you hear a person say that, I think somebody who takes the time to learn the sales aspects of it, the profit and loss aspects of this finance aspects and the marketing before they jump in. But again, don't learn it, just get a good base understanding of it. And then of course, I would always say, join the association, because that's where you're gonna get your network, that is where you'll meet the people and the insurance is good. And Irish F is now great. And we have the tools that are there. And we have extra, you know, we have accessibility to health insurance, we have accessibility to event insurance, discounts. And so there's different other benefits that we have. But to me, it's that connectivity, Chris, I think more than anything else chef to Chef, to really understand the nuances the business because you want it to be the best, you don't want to be that person who goes into that Airbnb, leaves rice all over the floor and creates a bad experience. You want the chef to be like you who's gonna go in and say, but I create a great experience for you. And I want to continue that, the more we can get chef's to do that. And it's not that difficult, the better this industry is going to be. And again, as we come under, more and more scrutiny now with people wondering what's happening at home, and cottage food laws and public health pointing the finger this way, and the FDA becoming more aggressive, I think we've got to be the professionals in all of this. And that just means stepping up, not just the food side. But the business side as well.

Chris Spear:

We saw that, obviously with the American Culinary Federation, you know, that was kind of their formation to was to kind of, you know, raise awareness of chefs and make it a profession. And you know, the same culinary schools is getting people you know, to be taken seriously, and to give them the tools to be successful with that kind of thing.

Unknown:

The thing about pricing is you also have to understand everyone's situation, because not all businesses are profitable. And I tell people all the time, it's like on social media where someone else and a lot of times these people are side hustlers, like I've had friends who work in the business, and they're in finance or something, but they make cookies on the side. And it's like, they look like they're a successful business, because they're working all the time. But like, could you do that full time? And that's the question I asked when I have guests on the show. It's like, okay, well, you know, on social media, it looks like you have a successful business. But you're also working 40 hours a week as like, you know, refrigerator technician, could you quit tomorrow and survive on your cookie business? And the answer is probably no, right? I just had a guest on the show who does pop ups. And he's charging $160 At dinner, and they include alcohol, and he has five servers. I'm like, I 60 bucks. But he's, but it's for him. It's like a fun thing. You know, he has a full time job. So I don't want people to listen to podcasts, say, Wow, I think that's awesome, I'm gonna do that. But then you realize, like, you know, I quit a job where I was making like, $70,000 a year to start my personal chef business, I can't then go to making$10,000 a year, just because I love it. So I have to charge what it takes for me to survive. I've got a wife and kids and a mortgage and all that. And I think a lot of times people do look at some of these and say, oh, you know, these people are out there doing their dinners for 40 $50 ahead, but like, what's their circumstance? Is that their full time job? Is this a hobby? Is it a side hustle? Do they have a wealthy spouse, like you don't know. So your pricing has to reflect what you need. And then the market decides the market might decide that they, you know, people don't want to pay that. Or maybe you're gonna make a killing. So, you know, that's kind of my final say, on kind of pricing there. Well, you know, and I think that is one of the challenges that we all face is that that whole thing is as a side hustle, and I'm not going to worry about it too much, you probably remember, there were a number of these apps that popped up in the 20 teens, and I got calls from every one of them, you know, we get we get this great opportunity. And we want to partner with a USB ca and, you know, we can bring these to your chefs. And of course, all the models are based on getting a piece of the business, right? So it wasn't a matter of the chef would pay up front. But rather, we're going to tell you what the meal is going to be. And then we're going to tell the customer how much they're going to pay and then we'll give you a cut. And then we're starting things like 30 $35 I'm saying it's not gonna work. And I tried to explain to them the relationship that a chef develops with the customer, and how 30 $35 is even going to pay for the food, let alone and and every one of them told me what was wrong and of course was a killer for me because these are companies getting 20 25 million in seed money from places nothing and I'm still bootstrapping this little Association. But I will tell you this years later, I'm still around and they're not. So bootstrapping or not. And one of the things for me is branding is super important. And I remember I was gonna sign up with one of them years ago and they basically said I lost all my branding instead of being perfect little bites. I was Chef Chris at their plan. that form. And that because I was new to the platform, they recommended me starting dinners at $40 ahead and I was already five years in, I was like, I built a brand, like, I started my blog in like 2008, or something, I built a brand and a reputation. I'm not starting from zero, like, your customers might not know who I am. But that doesn't matter to me, I don't care if I've never done a dinner through your platform or have a review on your platform. I'm not losing my branding, and I just like was not gonna give that up just to maybe get a few more leads and be Chef Chris at whatever platform that's extinct now, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And that's the challenge. They are extinct. Yep. Well, you know, I think the ASPCA is great. I think it provides a lot of value to people. I've run an ad for you every week on the podcast. I think people have heard that. And we appreciate that. Yes. And they'll know where to find you. But is there anywhere else you want to send people besides all the regular stuff that's linked in the bio? Is there anything that people should check out right now? No, I think I think the websites are the too critical on us. pca.com, if you want to join as a member, but I think even if you're thinking about it, take a look at hire a chef, you know, what can you get from that. And I would encourage people to do that. Look at the profiles of the chefs that have completed the profiles, not just that little gray picture, we're still trying to get those people moving and get their profiles updated. And look, at the end of the day I remind people to part of owning a business means you've got to take some initiative. So if we lay out a platform for you and make it easy to do, you know, George George, and our staff will definitely give you some guidance and getting those things set up. We have videos to help with how to do other kinds of video work and photography. So take the time all those tools are there, but look at hire a chef and think about how that can enhance your work look@uspta.com and see some of the benefits that are there. And then think about the networking and that ability students so that even if you're alone, you're not alone, as long as you're part of the membership.

Chris Spear:

I love it all things that I talked about all the time, especially the networking, that that's huge, like being able to help people you can talk to ask questions, and just so it's not so lonely, you know? Yeah, I get I get tired of like just looking at four walls and not having anyone to talk to so it's nice to be able to get out and network again. And like post COVID I think that we've all been craving that right for so many years, even if you were in association, you weren't able to meet people in person. And I mean, zoom. And you know what we're doing here counts a little bit, but it's nice to have a network to fall back on.

Unknown:

Absolutely, always, always. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. I'm

Chris Spear:

so glad I could have you and I think this is gonna provide a lot of value to our listeners out there today.

Unknown:

Oh, Chris, my pleasure. Hope we can do it again. But thanks so much for the time today enjoyed the conversation. Oh, of course. You're welcome. And thanks again for sponsoring the show. It's it's been great. And I love that we could work together. Always our pleasure looking forward to more of it. And as always, this has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. Thanks so much and have a great week. You're still here, the podcast is over. If you are indeed still here. Thanks for taking the time to listen to the show. I'd love to direct you to one place and that's chefs without restaurants.org. From there, you'll be able to join our email newsletter. Get connected in our free Facebook group, and join our personal chef catering and food truck database so I can help get you more job leads. And you'll also find a link to our sponsor page where you'll find products and services I love. You pay nothing additional to use these links, but I may get a small commission which helps keep the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast and organization running. You might even get a discount for using some of these links. As always, you can reach out to me on Instagram at Chefs Without Restaurants or send me an email at chefs without restaurants@gmail.com Thanks so much.

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