Aug. 31, 2021

Your Reputation is Everything - Success Tips for Personal Chefs with Steven Lash

Your Reputation is Everything - Success Tips for Personal Chefs with Steven Lash

This week my guest is chef Steven Lash. He’s the owner of Blue Duck personal chef service in Georgia. Steven’s food combines fine dining with local influences, inspired by his extensive travel, passion for the outdoors, and hunger for understanding cultures. He’s a veteran of the restaurant world, having worked in some of the top kitchens in Atlanta for over 15 years. Following the birth of his first daughter, he got out of the restaurant business in order to better support his young family. After a successful 20 year career in information technology, Steven has returned to his first true passion – feeding people amazing food.

While Steven has a great story that I think everyone will enjoy, I know this episode will bring tremendous value to those who are either currently working as personal chefs, or looking to start a personal chef business. There's also some really great advice for anyone who has their own business. We discuss some of my favorite topics such as workflow tips, finding your niche, and free food. We're both big fans of working with AirBnB operators, and people who run vacation rentals. I think this is still an untapped market for those looking to acquire customers on a recurring basis. And I asked Stephen about his deposit policy. This is something I’ve gone back-and-forth with over the past couple years, and I really loved his take on it. I’d love to hear what you think about this episode. What was your biggest takeaway? You can send me an email, DM, or reply to our posts on social media.

Looking to hire employees for your restaurant? This week's sponsor is Savory Jobs, a job site only for restaurants. For just $50, get unlimited job postings for an entire year. Use discount code SAVORY10 to save 10%.

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Transcript

Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris Spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. They're caterers, research chefs, personal chefs, cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. This week, my guest chef Steven Lash. He's the owner of Blue Duck personal chef service in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Steven's food combines fine dining with local influence inspired by his extensive travel passion for the outdoors and hunger for understanding cultures. He's a veteran of the restaurant world having worked in some of the top kitchens in Atlanta for over 15 years. Following the birth of his first daughter, he got out of the business in order to better support his young family. After a successful 20 year career in information technology, Stevens returned to his first true passion, feeding people amazing food. While Stephen has a great story that I think everyone's going to enjoy. I think this episode is going to bring tremendous value to those who either currently work as personal chefs, or those who are looking to start a personal chef business. There's also some really great advice to anyone who owns their own business. We discuss some of my favorite topics such as workflow tips, finding your niche and free food. We're both big fans of working with Airbnb operators and people who run vacation rentals. I think this is still an untapped market for those looking to acquire customers on a recurring basis. And I asked Stephen about his deposit policy. This is something I've gone back and forth with over the past couple of years, and I loved his take on it. I want to hear what you think about this episode. What was your biggest takeaway? You can send me an email dm or reply to our posts on social media. And now a word from our sponsor Savory Jobs. Are you shocked at what it costs to post a job ad? Instead, imagine a job site for restaurants only where you could post as many jobs as you wanted. And it only costs 50 bucks. Not for each job you post, but for all the jobs you post for an entire year. Well, my sponsor Savory Jobs has made that a reality. They've launched a revolutionary, easy to use job site just for restaurants. And it only costs $50 for unlimited job posts for an entire year. Plus, for our loyal listeners use the code SAVORY10 and get 10% off. So go to savoryjobs.com and discover the job site that's shaking up the restaurant industry. Forget the big corporate sites like Indeed and Monster, and join the revolution at savoryjobs.com. And remember o use code savory10 for 10% off. And now on with the show. Thanks so much and have a great week. Hey, Steven, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Steven Lash:

Thank you. I am excited to be here.

Chris Spear:

I'm looking forward to talking to you another fellow personal chef and someone who's making some delicious looking food.

Steven Lash:

Well, thank you. Yeah, I'm excited too. We've we've you and I've kind of gone back and forth a little bit on social media here and there. And I'm glad to finally sit down and probably pick your brain more than you'll pick mine. So

Chris Spear:

I love it. Let's bring some value to the listeners today. Excellent, hard hitting questions first. If you were a flavor, what would it be?

Steven Lash:

Ah, if I was a flavor, what would it be? Root beer. Okay, all right. I'm down with that, oh, there's, there's absolutely no, no reason for that just sometimes put that in the end and breaks the ice. I'm actually drinking shinato. Right now, I don't know if you've ever had one of these, it's kind of like one of those sanpellegrino. It's almost like a bitter soda. So in lieu of drinking, like, I love a morrows, and that kind of stuff. So it's like a bitter orange with some herbs and stuff. So kind of tastes like root beer with orange in it. And these are really hard to find and kind of pricey, but it's one of those things that I like to treat myself to. Nice. Nice. I'm

Unknown:

working on a cup of coffee at the moment. So that would probably be my second answer to that.

Chris Spear:

Right on what's a nice icebreaker. So really, let's, let's kind of dive in, give me a little background on you. I know that you did some cooking, you left the industry and now you're back with your own business. So let's kind of talk about that. How did how did you get into food and cooking?

Unknown:

So I actually started, I started off as a dishwasher in high school steak and Ale, if you remember steak and ales, right. You know, when I went applied for this job, I wanted to be a dishwasher and they thought I was nuts because they had they had busboy openings. They're like, well, they make more money. And I'm like, No, I want to be a dishwasher. And they're like, why in the hell would you want to be a dishwasher and I'm like, I want to, I want to be in the back of the house where I can cuss and grow my hair out and do all this, you know, whatever. I didn't want to deal with people. I didn't want to deal with customers, I wanted to hide in the kitchen. So that's I got a job as a dishwasher. They're like, okay, you know, this idiot actually wants to wash dishes, we'll let him wash dishes. So I started off as a dishwasher, just taking oil. And one day I was walking through the kitchen to you know, put some plates up front or whatever in the line cook at the time, he was there by himself on the line. And he calls me over he goes, Hey, stand right here. And so I go over and standing there and he goes, alright, reach into a drawer and grab a baked potato. And so I reached in the drawer and I grabbed a baked potato, and then he's cut, you know, cut it this way. And he starts walking me through garnishing a baked potato, and then says put it on this plate. And so what was happening is he was in the weeds and he needed some extra hands. So he just grabbed me in. So as I'm doing it, I'm having a blast doing it. And the manager walks by and goes, Hey, do you actually want to start cooking? And I was like, hell yeah. And so I started, I started off as a as the big potato guy in a steak and ale and like 1988 and, and it just, it just took off from there, I fell in love with it. And I worked my way up through the through the ranks. And you know, kind of that's that's where it started. And I over the course of the years, I made several attempts to get out of the industry just because of the lifestyle and you know, the chaos and the lack of money and all that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, that's where my heart has always been. I took a 20 year hiatus almost, and pursued a career in technology. And when my kids were born, when my first kid was born, I saw her walk for the first time in the dining room of the restaurant I was working at. And I just realized I was missing a lot. So saw other other skills. And I did that for a while. But the entire time I was working in tech, I wanted to be cooking and people would ask me all the time, do you miss it? And I'm like, hell yeah, I miss it every single day. And somewhere in there is where this whole concept of blue duck was born on a couple of different levels. You know, fast forward a little bit, I got involved in a startup that didn't work out. My my and we get more into this to my my life just kind of in 2019 just went to absolute shit. And I was unemployed and looking for something to do and unencumbered by, you know, a marriage or any of that kind of stuff. And I fell into this totally by accident. And it just took off.

Chris Spear:

So how did you fall into it by accident? Does anyone really fall into starting their own business by accident? I want to hear about that.

Unknown:

Right? So I would say yes and no, you know, to me and my perspective, yeah, I was kind of by accident, I I'm kind of a believer of the universe kinda has spent a lot, you know, laid a lot of things out in front of me and had something in mind for me kind of all along and it was just a matter of timing. Basically, what happened is at the very beginning of you know, I exited it. I was fired from the job I was at, and, you know, I the end of 2019. So many years before while I was still you know, still in the restaurant business I had bounced around and kind of started to kick off this idea of bringing restaurant experience restaurant level food into people's private homes.

Chris Spear:

Sounds like you're stealing my tagline there. Maybe. You know, I said I've said the best restaurant in town is in your house but but you know very similarly trying Trying to give people the idea of like, high end. fine dining in someone's house. Yeah, I love it. Yeah.

Unknown:

So I had kind of, I had kind of started playing around with that, like years ago, like 20 years ago or something like that. And so when I was unemployed, and I'm, like, you know, needing some income and, you know, trying to figure out what I'm going to do, you know, what do I want to be when I grow up kind of thing. I just posted it out on Facebook one day, and I was like, hey, um, if anybody's interested, I'll come and cook a really awesome meal in your home and just kind of throw it out to my friends list. And, you know, couple of people kind of seemed interested, but I got a message from a friend of mine who owned a cabin rental company, she's she's since passed away, but she owned a cabin rental company up in Blue Ridge. So I'm, I live in a small town called Canton, which is just north of Atlanta. And it's about halfway between Atlanta and Blue Ridge, Georgia, and Blue Ridge. For those who don't know, it's just a beautiful Southern Appalachian town, tons of vacation rentals up there and stuff like that. So, you know, she hits me up, and she says, Hey, if you're serious about this, there's a huge market up in Blue Ridge. And I'm like, You got to be kidding me. Like what you know, and I kind of dismissed it at first. And she's like, No, really, there is there's, and so I started thinking about it. And, you know, we kind of continue talking. And so she wanted to try me out. And she set up for me to do a dinner for some friends of hers. And if it went, well, then she would promote me on their website for their rental company and kind of develop a package deal. It sounds like okay, you know, what the hell. I did the first event for her friends, it was for people. And I did it for the cost of food. And that was it. So she reimburse me for the food. And I went and cooked like a four course meal for him. And it turned out fantastic. I had no idea what I was doing, I rolled up to that place was so much stuff. But I did the whole, you know, I took my own equipment, you know, basically the model that I do now. And and it went really well. And so she, she started promoting me on on there and then started giving me introducing me to a lot of people around town. And so I started getting in with other cabin companies and just started kind of pounding the pavement and networking, no intention of doing it full time. But before I knew it, I was doing it full time. And it just it just took off. And she was absolutely right. It was a huge market and it you know, it just kind of kind of grew.

Chris Spear:

So is that where most of your business is still coming from? Like these Cabin Rentals?

Unknown:

It is it is? So it's Yeah, I'd say I'm trying to get you know, more more into the Atlanta market. But yeah, I'd say probably 80% of my business is up in the cabin rentals. And, and it's through companies, it's through the Chamber of Commerce up, there's got a fantastic website, I get a lot of leads through it.

Chris Spear:

I think more people need to hear this. I mean, I've talked about this for so long, so much of my business is through Airbnb ease. And, you know, for me, it was just like this aha moment, if I had been hired by maybe three groups independently to go cook an Airbnb. And at that point, I was like, why am I just not cutting, like, cut out the middleman, right? Like, go to the Airbnb owners and say, Hey, like you're getting all these people, you know, there's these places that are booked literally every night of the year. That's a ton of people who are looking to have a getaway and experience, whatever. So I'm telling everyone who's listening, like, find some Airbnb owners in your radius of where you do work, connect with them and like build this relationship. And it sometimes does take going and doing a dinner at cost. I've done it onto some Airbnb owners and said, Listen, let me come cook you and your family and a couple friends at dinner. And you know, then when you promote my business, or if you're going to you can say hey, I've had this, this is what it's like. And I think those are the kinds of things that really can transform your business.

Unknown:

Yeah, exactly. And that's I do a lot of Airbnb, I have cooked and done the exact same thing where I've gone in and I've cooked for some people who, you know, have some airbnbs I've gone in and cooked for like owners of other cabin rentals, you know, just getting out there and pounding it and letting people you know, because a picture is great. You know, I can anybody can take some, well, not anybody but you can take some great pictures of food, but nobody knows what it tastes like. Nobody knows what the experience is. So, you know, going out there and doing it for free and eating the cost on it and then saying, Hey, this is what I do. And and I've gotten a ton of business through that, you know, so yeah, it's, it's, it's fantastic. I found out that in that area of North Georgia, even during COVID they did take a little bit of a hit on the vacations, but there's like 1900 vacation rental properties up there and they stay at about 90% capacity. It's a huge market, you know, and there's several there's, I don't know if there's several but there's there's two or three other guys up there doing this, you know, but it's just getting it out. out there and staying in front of and letting people taste taste my food. You know?

Chris Spear:

Have you had any marketing tactics that didn't work? Like, have you ever gone and done anything or spent money somewhere? And it just didn't do anything for you?

Unknown:

Um, no, not really, because I'm, I'm, I don't really spend a lot on it. You know, I just, I haven't really gone that deep into the marketing stuff. You know, I've got a page on the Chamber of Commerce vacation website, and I get a ton of stuff through there. I bought a bunch of flyers. So what I'll do now is every time I cook in a rental, I'll leave two or three flyers, you know, trifold, in the, you know, the guest book, you know? Yeah. Yeah, so I do those sorts of things. But I haven't really well, I take that back. Now that I think about it. Yes. I've tried like the Instagram and Facebook ads. And they all they did really was pissed me off because some, somebody on the internet's gonna have some comment to say about something. And, you know, I just, I finally just turned them off. And, you know, I didn't get any business out of them. You know, and it just really just more raise my blood pressure when I started reading people's smartass comments and stuff.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I've had, I've had a few of those myself, where I ran an ad or something. And then people are like, what, it's $100 a person that's garbage, I could go to the restaurant for $30 a head or whatever. But you know, like, we talked about free food. And for all the times that works, there are all these people who want you to come and do you know, oh, come to our event, there's gonna be 500 people there. And if you provide one free course, you know, free food for all these people, you're going to get business like I've done that I've gone to these events where I bring all this food for, like 500 people, and they just come and they like, shove a bite in their mouth, maybe take a card and leave and you literally get a job out of it.

Unknown:

Yeah, I had a couple of opportunities and full full disclosure, I had a couple of those opportunities. But I listened to you guys talking about that on one of your episodes before. And I was like, No, I'm not gonna do it.

Chris Spear:

Love it. Love it. Trying to give advice that works out. Right? I have a question. I was on your website. And it says that you charge a 30% deposit and you take money before you start working on menus. Is that right? I do. How's that work out? Like? Are people skeptical? Because I don't do that. I don't charge a deposit until after I've done a menu proposal. So do you get pushback that people are paying, and they don't even know what the menu is going to be? Or? No,

Unknown:

there's been an audition one time. So I had one. One guy that and it was funny, because you know, sometimes it just I kind of look at it like you want me to craft this thing. And, you know, so you want a commitment from me. And I'm willing to do that. But I also kind of want like some sort of token that, you know, I don't want to, I'm not going to put a bunch of time into creating menus and coming up with something really great for somebody who's just shopping around.

Chris Spear:

You gotta have skin in the game, right?

Unknown:

Yeah, exactly. So that's kind of where that came from. But I had one where we're one client, that's the only time it's happened. One client gave me a list of all of the shifts that he likes. And it was kind of Southern. So if you see my site, I do a lot of like, Southern influence stuff. But you know, he listed out you know what we really like paula deen, we really like so and so we read in their restaurants, we liked it. And he sent me a list of dishes. And he wanted me to come up with the menu. And I'm like, that's cool. I said, but I've got a, you know, I've got a I got to get you locked in and I won't, I won't keep the date if I don't have a deposit, you know, who first come first serve. And especially like, when it comes into autumn and the North Georgia mountains, like it just blows up because there's so many people coming in. And this guy was kind of like, you know, well, I want to see a menu first. And I'm like, Well, you know, I said, I need to get your lock down. And I wasn't necessarily opposed to it. I just wasn't dropping everything to do it. And so we kind of went back and forth. And finally I just went ahead and put together the you know, the the invoice and send it to him for the deposit. And I get this one liner back that says, you know, no, don't no menu, no deposit. And I was like, well, that's kind of a dick move, you know. So

Chris Spear:

that's what I was kind of worried about, like, I haven't done it before. Like, I don't know that I would go ahead and pay money if I didn't know what a menu is like just myself as a consumer. But I know a lot of people do this. It takes time. I mean, especially as you get into the more complicated diets, I'll have people come and say, Listen, I've got one vegan in the group, one person's a nut allergy. You know, we really love this that the other thing and it's gonna take me a couple hours to put together a personalized menu. It takes time and then you send it and you don't hear from them as like, wow, I just killed like, you know, two hours. And if you did that, like 10 times over. Yeah, that sucks. I don't know something for me to consider. I didn't used to take deposits either. You can listen to old shows. Going back a year or so where I said I don't take deposits and I got burned too many times this past year where people just like, I don't know if it was COVID or more shopping around. I think more people were coming into the market who had never done it before. And didn't realize, you know, maybe the work that goes into and just people who I took them at their word that they're going to do dinner and then we're like five days out and like oh, we decided to go another direction. It's like what do you mean? We've been talking For three months, like, and they don't even tell you, right? It's like, okay, I'll see you in three days. Like, here's what you need to have. Oh, you know what we meant to tell you? Sometimes they don't even say we want to know, Oh, you know what? We're going in another direction. We're not gonna do this dinner. It's like, Are you fucking kidding me? Like, like, it's a Saturday night I got you booked, like, it was a 10 time. Like, this is like a 15 $100 paycheck for me, I was counting on like, just $100 you know, if nothing else to hold that date,

Unknown:

I promise you, if you take a deposit, they will let you know if they change their mind. Now that part of it, honestly, was I started it because I needed the cash flow to buy the damn groceries for him. So, you know, it's like, I'm gonna go out and spend a couple 100 bucks on groceries. You know, it's like, my bank account when I was unemployed and starting this thing was, was a little little thin. So, you know, that's kind of when I when I started doing it and then I just like we said skin in the game, it just, you know, I'm making a commitment. I'm, this is what I do. So it's not like I'm complaining about it. But at the same time, you know, I want to make sure that they're serious about it, because there are a lot and I know that people shop around, you know, I've had there's, there are a few other guys doing stuff up and up in my area. And that's great. I welcome to competition. But the same time I'm not going to, you know, jump through a ton of hoops for somebody who's just casually like one to see what I can do.

Chris Spear:

Well, I think that's where building brand is really important. Like I've always said, I don't want to be a chef. I want to be like your chef, right? Like, I still get clients who want me to recreate dishes like their favorite restaurants, the Olive Garden and they come like sometimes they come at you without even seeing your menu and they say like, I want you to make a Caesar salad and chicken parm, I don't know, I was shit on chicken parm, but I do, and like, you know, cheesecake or whatever. Like, they don't even want to see what I have. They need our chef. And it's like, I want people who want me because they've been in my website, they've seen my social, they know what I'm all about, right? Those are my ideal clients.

Unknown:

People that hire me fall into one of three categories. They're either they just want somebody to cook and they don't really give a shit. They just don't want to do it themselves. They either, you know, some people is like, ooh, I want to I want to be fancy and hire a private chef, and they're not really they don't really appreciate it is there

Chris Spear:

the people who want Philemon neon and like molten chocolate cake? Right? Like they want that fancy restaurant food. Like in the industry, the restaurant industry, we talked about the people go out for Valentine's Day, right?

Unknown:

Yeah. And then and then the last one is people that are really actually foodies that really appreciate it and want the experience. And those are the people I'm going to target every time. You know, and the best ones I have. And I've got one reoccurring, like regular client, that she's actually a resident up there. And she, she brings me in every every once a while. And it's awesome, because she'll just be like, Alright, I want a seven course meal. And I don't want to know what you're cooking until you get until you serve it. And that's a blast. Because it's anything goes and I can just do whatever and but those are the people that look at and go, amen. This is an experience. You know, this is a dining experience, not just like, oh, somebody's making dinner for us. You know, that's, that's what I try and go for. And so, I don't know, so far it's working. I don't know how much of this is just dumb luck, you know, or whatever. But it's, it's working. So I'm gonna keep I'm gonna keep doing it.

Chris Spear:

Did you have any business experience before you started doing this? Like, cuz I think that's one of the challenges so many people, you know, you're a little older. So you have restaurant experience, I'm seeing a lot of younger people who like, never went to culinary school have never cooked and they, you know, 22 want to be a personal chef and have no idea how to do any of any of it from billing, budgeting, marketing, but did you have a skill set to actually operate a business?

Unknown:

Some Yes, my Actually, that's where I kind of feel like, you know, it's, it's one of those moments where everything that I've been through and everything I've experienced in my life kind of all comes together, right? I had a lot of business experience in terms of like, you know, my technology experience I eventually worked up to where I was an executive. So I was involved in budget discussions, I was managing people, I was doing all this kind of stuff. And, you know, later in my career, I was very close to the business end of it, you know, and so yeah, through being involved in about, I think, three different startups, where, you know, it was it was a little bit more, you know, as closer to, to the day to day of like, what's gonna make or break this. I think a lot of that experience has served me really, really well in terms of understanding at least on a basic level, you know, tax implications, or how to budget or the value even of, you know, branding, the value of, you know, a feedback loop with my, with my customers, those sorts of things and all that comes out of that world because when I was in the kitchens, it didn't matter, you know, I mean, I was just cooking food slinging hash and you know, you yelling at servers. And you know, I didn't care about the business end of it. So it was really that tech experience. And that gave me the acumen to, you know, start to be able to run a business, but I'm still figuring most of the shit out as I go. I have no idea what I'm doing most days, so

Chris Spear:

much of it changes day to day anyway, especially from the marketing perspective, how much of the restaurant industry had changed? And how much were you staying on top of it? I mean, you took 20 years off, and I think, you know, restaurants definitely changed. But the food industry in general people's tastes like, how much did you stay in kind of involved in the know, while you weren't working there? And like, Did you have any trouble kind of getting back into it? Um, you know, I

Unknown:

think I always followed followed stuff. So you know, one of the high points of my career when I was out there, you know, in the restaurant world is I worked and it's not there anymore. Unfortunately, I would wish it was but a restaurant called Nava and Buckhead in Atlanta, and it was Kevin rathmines rescue restaurant. So I know a lot of people know that name. Kevin, it opened that up in Atlanta, you know, 20 years ago, however long it was, and then he's since gone on and done other things. But I worked for him for like two years. And, well, the experience that I took there, and then I continued to kind of follow like him and some other things, you know, so I was always stayed kind of plugged in. And I've always enjoyed good restaurants. So I would, I would get out and do it not as much as I'd like to, but I kind of stayed plugged in, once I started cooking, again, really is, I guess, during that time, I stayed a hobbyist, you know, so I did kind of follow along. But, you know, now it's kind of like, as I've come back in, and you know, social media and just seeing what people are doing and things like that. And they're going Oh, that's cool. Like, I'm going to try that, you know, it's still, you know, I kind of came back pretty quick. But some of my stuff is, you know, I don't really follow a lot of I don't really do a lot of trendy stuff, I think my stuffs kind of a little bit somewhat timeless, in in a lot of it. You know, I've been playing with like molecular gastronomy lately. Just, you know, I don't know, it just seemed kind of fun. And like, let's try something different.

Chris Spear:

Are there any techniques that you've just found that you really enjoy doing? Like, what are some of those techniques,

Unknown:

this is probably gonna sound super lame in terms of that, but like, just stuff like, like, I think I served maybe three weeks ago, served my first plate with foam on it, you know, and then I've got another I did another like caviar, where one of the pictures more recently I did this sea bass with, you know, like, I have viscous caviar that I made, it was like, it was just really more playing and like, let me see what I can do with it. And you know, kind of, you know, they evolve out of other things. But most of my stuff that I do now is real simple. You know, and that's something that I learned from Kevin, back in the novedades is, you know, if it's season properly, you don't have to do a lot to it, you know, I want if I'm gonna serve a steak, I want to taste like a steak, you know, and so seasoning is everything, right? But I, you know, when I first started this thing up, and some of this was kind of the influence of that lady who was helping me kind of get it off the ground, she, she kind of had a model in mind of somebody that she had worked with previously, you know, put a wet put a menu out on your website, they can select and blah, blah, blah, you know. And so that's how I started at first, there was a menu out on my website, and it had, you know, four or five salads for five starters, you know, half a dozen or so entrees and a couple of different desserts, and they could go and choose. And what I would end up with is, you know, I'd have one menu on one night for eight people, and the next menu The next night, totally different menu for another eight people, and I was killing myself trying to pull it all together, you know, so I kind of started, you know, getting rid of that concept. But then I would end up with like, Did this occur, this happened a couple of times, I have a party of like, 20 people, and I'll bring in help, but they don't usually cook, they're usually like washing dishes in between sets, because I've only got so many plates, you know, are helping serve, but like, you know, one of them, select it, you know, I'd let them split, like, you know, if it's a big party, and not everybody's gonna want beef, and they can have beef, they can choose between B for the trout or whatever. But the sides and the accompaniments were all different. And then next thing I know, I'm like trying to cook for 20 people and do all this and it just it would fall apart. So now I'll look at and go Okay, we can do that. But you're going to get the same accompany man. So I'll come up with a dish, it's got the same accompaniment that works for beef or trout, and just make it easier on myself. You know, so a lot of this just comes down to trying to trying to streamline my process.

Chris Spear:

That's what I'm doing. As far as that 10 is kind of my break point where I feel like over 10 you're probably gonna have people who want different center of the plate. So I've got a wedding next weekend, and it's filet and Sam and so I did let them choose to but traditionally, if you had a party of like 12 I'm still probably going to try and get you to do one entree.

Unknown:

Yeah, that's what you know. When I first got kicked off last year. It was out of desperation, right. I was on Floyd, I was like trying to you know, trying to get this thing going. Now the good news is for the entire second half of 2020, I was completely supporting myself off of a full time. But in order to get there everything, I was just a yes, man, everything if they wanted something, I was like, okay, you know, I took every gig, I took, you know, whatever they asked for I would do whatever I could to, to accommodate it. And I caused myself a lot of pain and heartache doing that. I learned a ton, you know, so now I've kind of gotten back into like, going, Okay, well, let's, you know, what can I where's that, that balance? And where's that tipping point of being able to do it without saying yes to everything, you know, somebody I got contacted the other day by an event planner. And they wanted to, you know, they were working with caterers and all this. And so they reached out to me, they're like, we love your food, everything looks great. we'd really love to work with you. You know, we've got this baby shower coming up. And their model of how they operate is they want caterers to just drop off food and they'll, they'll heat it up, they'll throw it in the oven and heat it up and serve it. And I kicked it around because it was like 40 people I'm like, that's a good payday. But I've also worked really, really hard to build a brand that is, you know, synonymous with excellence, you know, and so, if I drop off food, and a chafing dish that somebody is going to throw into an oven, and you know, I don't want my name if they if they leave it in too long, or anything else that you know, I don't want my name and brand associated with that. So I declined it. You know, last year, I would not have declined it, I would have made it happen, you know, but now I'm kind of like, you know, it's solid enough that I feel like I've got some, some room to do that, you know, and protect it. Because at the end of the day, you know that reputation is everything.

Chris Spear:

I think this is the most important point. I think we've touched on it. Maybe in the second episode I did. And with chefs along the way. You know, I've I've seen it firsthand. I've worked with caterers where it's the cheat menu, right? Like I've talked about the cheat menu before, I don't know if you've heard any of my episodes about the cheat menu, but basically, like, your menu is normally $100 ahead. And then someone comes and says, Well, my budgets really 60 Can you do it? And you need the money? Right? Like a lot of us need the money. So you do it. But then what do you do you cut on the quality of your products, you take short cars, normally you'd make your mashed potatoes, but maybe you buy a premade or using instant, you know, maybe you only have always bought fresh seafood, but you're gonna buy some frozen stuff that when it slacks out, it's gonna be wet and mushy. But what you don't realize is that's also marketing, right? So then you've got 100 people who come to this wedding, they have no idea who the hell you are. They try your food, how this wasn't good, like who catered this, it's not doing you any good. So you got a pay day of you know, a couple 100 or even $1,000. But you're not going to get any customers from them. In fact, it might have done more damage to your reputation, because out in the community. Hey, I'm looking for someone to do a dinner Oh, well, you know, I went to this wedding, don't hire this guy. You know, I think you can do some serious damage there. But I see it over and over from people who make really awesome food and have the best intentions and whether they're trying to accommodate their client, or they just really need that money. They're willing to sacrifice and I think brand is everything, and where you place yourself in the market. And that's one of the things I'm always trying to tell people.

Unknown:

Yeah, no, I completely agree what I do. When I'm in my, my niche, my element I do really, really well. And that's that's what I built a business on. And anytime I've tried to deviate and do something else, you know, for exactly what you're describing. It just it falls short. And I think that some of that's just a maturity thing. And I've actually, you know, had a lot of conversations recently on on a personal level of just how important that is, and kind of, you know, having the confidence to stick to that and be true to what it is that I do. And that's, you know, that's kind of one of those little growth things for me, because I'm still, you know, like I said, I'm still figuring a lot of this stuff out. So

Chris Spear:

I refuse to do drop offs during COVID. You know, so many people were going to these delivery and stuff it's like, so my whole brand and messaging has been fresh food with the best quality products cooked in your house personalized for you. And the price points $100. So now I've changed and said, Well, on a Wednesday, I'll come and bring you a meatloaf and mashed potato dinner and it's only $40. Again, how do I then convert these people but like those people aren't going to probably become your $100 head customers for high end fine dining stuff. You're going to be branded with them as the guy who you know his foods worth maybe $40 ahead and he'll do comes back to it. And if that's not what you're doing, so it's really hard again, you know, I was unemployed for a number of weeks last year during COVID. And it would have been a nice money grab to go do some of this, but I just I don't know. I mean, I'm fortunate right there's some privilege there that my wife works a good job and Have some income and we were able to save and push through it, it is very different when like, you can't pay your bills, like, I totally get that. But if you can hold off, right, that's kind of where my head's at. You know,

Unknown:

there's this picture that's it's floating around on my Instagram, and everything else is like, there's a head shot, where I got my jacket on, I'm holding a knife, you know, it's kind of like, you know, kind of become like my, my main thing. And that was taken by, by a buddy of mine who's a photographer, and this guy is a super cool story. He used to be an Atlanta cop. And he, he quit to become a photographer, and his work is fantastic. Like, in that picture has gotten me jobs. Like people have scrolled through seeing that, and like, I'm hiring this guy. But he and I have had a lot of conversations about that, because he was kind of the same thing, when he was kicking off his business, he would just take all these jobs, and you know, somebody wants their kids High School, you know, seeing your photo, and he would just take all these cheap jobs, and finally realized, and this is what he would tell me, he's like, you know, if I hold out for the good jobs with the clients that I want, and the level I want, it compensates for a dozen other of the cheap jobs. And so that's kind of where I'm at with it took a long time for me to feel confident in turning away work, because I got a lot of them. You know, early on, I got a call from a lady who, you know, up in Blue Ridge, and there's a ton of money up there huge, like, you know, ginormous house, right on the lake, you know, lots of money. She called me up and she said, I'm having a get together for like, you know, six of my lady friends who want you to come in and do lunch, and I'm like, okay, you know, what's the date, blah, blah, blah. I'm like, Okay, and then finally comes around. She says, Yeah, we're really hoping to keep it around 25 to $30 a person and I damn near hung up. Yeah, yeah, no, cuz it's like hell you can go to, you know, go to McDonald's. And so that was kind of my very first experience with that. And it's like, wait a minute, you know, what you hear anytime you talk with artists or anybody else, they want you to paint something for them, but they don't want it, you know, as a favor, you know, that kind of shit.

Chris Spear:

It's having the abundance mindset that, like, you'll get the jobs, you know, and that that's a big thing is I've been able to grow, you know, I'd rather go out on Saturday night and you know, have like one big killer event a week than be like nickel and diming it throughout the week, and just that time for me has been able to be shifted to do other things like the podcast, like, Oh, I wouldn't be able to do the podcast. If I was going out five nights a week doing these like two and four person dinners, you know, charge what I need to charge. get them done. I love that headshot of yours. It kind of scares me like you said, hey, guess who's like in the Rob Zombie heart? Has anyone ever told you you look like him?

Unknown:

Well, it's a matter of I don't like clowns are fucking funny.

Chris Spear:

It's just one of these things. Like, when your profile picture is like so small, right? I think especially when you first started. Yeah, there you go. You're fluffing the beard out. I'm sure you've gotten this right, especially with the knife. Like I saw the profile picture and just you know, when it's so small, like, man, he looks like the guy from like, the devil's rejects, like it's just not right. But I've heard that before

Unknown:

I actually did it. I did a gig for somebody one time and they were somebody asked like the all the guests are sitting around. They're like, how you asked the host? How did you find this guy? And she's like, I was scrolling through, you know, this website. And I came across this picture of this guy sitting there with this just kind of fuck you attitude, you know, in this picture, and she's like, that's the guy and she hired me solely off of that picture.

Chris Spear:

I mean, it's, it's a marketing tactic, right? Like, if it works for you go nuts.

Unknown:

I mean, it's, you know, it's one of those, it's and that's kind of become part of my brand. You know, it's it. You know, I'm the guy with the beard and the bald head, and I wear jeans and red chucks, and I drive a built up Jeep Wrangler. And, you know, I pull up, you know, so I get people every once in a while, like, well, the cabin told us we need four wheel drive to get there. It's not a problem, you know, but that's all kind of that's just my thing. You know, I'm, I'm that guy.

Chris Spear:

Shout out to Matt Collins, Chef, Matt Collins, big supporter of the show. I know he's listening here. He's one of my Patreon supporters. He did this photo shoot where he like dressed as Santa and he's like, bring like liquor all over his face. He had some worries wearing no shirt is crazy. But like, the guy is booking games. I love booking gigs. Right, Matt? I know you're listening. Yeah. But you know, I don't know that I would ever do a photoshoot like that. But you know, he's getting jobs. It's not keeping on calling

Unknown:

and his cat memes. So I will shout out to him. I know. I know. Um, we have slid into his DMS a couple of times, just to comment on the damn music that he puts with his you know, it's like death metal music that he puts in his stories. And I'm like, this is fantastic. I love it. What's funny about that is when I first started in the in the lady who kind of was kicking me off, she's like, you got to wear the hat. And I'm like, the chef's hat. And she's like, yeah, and I'm like, Hell no, I'm not wearing a chef's hat. You know, she told me also like, you know, you got to change the name of the website. cuz it was, you know, blue duck eats was something I already owned, but it was, you know, I that's what I built the brand off and she's like, you gotta change that That's terrible. And I'm like, Hell no, I'm not changing that I'm not changing that I'm not wearing a chef's hat. And I think people appreciate the authenticity, of like, Hey, I'm just a guy who's out there having fun, and I cook really awesome food. And so many of these things become, you know, this is a conversation I've also been having, you know, the brand is, and the experiences not just here's a really nice plate of food, it's the whole thing, you know, when you go in your cooking, you know, do you explain, like, each dish or their stories or whatever, you know, people start interacting, and they start talking, and you're telling them stories, and all this kind of stuff. And that all is part of it, people, people love that they want to see the personality, they want there to be more to it than just some, you know, piece of meat on a plate.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, what are you comfortable. And you know, it took me a few years, I think for the first I've been doing this on and off for 10 years now. I think for the first five or so I was always wearing like the white chef coat and pants, I never worked f hat. But you know, a couple years ago, I started wearing to a lot of my events like a Star Wars hat. And one time a customer said, why the Star Wars hat and I wasn't trying to be cocky, and it just came out so naturally said because I can because I own my own business. And I can. And just like what it meant was like I for so many years had to wear someone else's monkey suit. And this is like what I wanted to wear. And I don't really like wearing long sleeve anymore, you know, so I wear a short sleeve chef's shirt, but sometimes it's like a buttoned down kind of short sleeve shirt. Sometimes I wear jeans, you know, and the aprons that I like. And it was it was just nice to kind of feel like my authentic self that like my food wasn't defined by how I dress. Now, I do know sometimes I do have those clients where I know, I'm quote unquote, the help, you know. And I will put on those coats. They don't ask me to but just sometimes I get the vibe from the customer that like, this is one of those events where you're going to be on show when they're open kitchen and maybe I tone it down and I wear my white chef coat. And like, you know, my branded Chefs Without Restaurants cap instead of like a Star Wars lead, right?

Unknown:

Yeah, I haven't. I haven't. Well, if I've had any of those, I was completely oblivious to it. And I just did my thing anyway. So I'm like, you know, I don't I don't really worry about I you know, I as you so eloquently pointed out a little while ago, I'm older, you know, I've been I've been down those roads, I did the corporate thing where I had to wear the khakis every day, and you know, all this kind of shit. And I just, um, you know, I'm too old for that, man. I'm just, I'm just doing my thing, and I'm trying to have a blast while I'm doing it. So I'm gonna keep doing that. They want to dress somebody up. You know what, there's three other guys up there, they can dress up, go go talk to them.

Chris Spear:

That's a much smaller pool, though. I'm in the DC area, there's a much bigger pool of chefs I'm competing with, but

Unknown:

that's true. I mean, I'm, I'm trying to get into Atlanta, the Atlanta market more and I haven't been, you know, haven't really done much there. And maybe that's why I don't know. But maybe the Jeep Wrangler doesn't present as well in Atlanta as it does in the mountains. So

Chris Spear:

what do you still struggling with business wise? Are there things that you have trouble doing or something you're trying to work on that, you know, like self improvement wise for the business? Like, are you gonna get better, better at some? Absolutely,

Unknown:

I, I am terrible at follow ups and callbacks. Like you know, and I've recently started to try and just I've had to force myself, I have a couple hours a day, every day blocked off on my calendar to force myself to sit down and take care of like, what I call an office day, you know, getting back to people, you know, following up in a timely manner, I'll do it. I just don't always, you know, trying to get better about like, you know, picking up the phone. And so it's really more of the administrative and just keeping I was gonna actually it was one of the questions I was going to ask you is how the hell do you track your leads? I used to do and just email. And now I've got like, some little plugin for like Gmail that I've been using. And it does, okay, but it's just trying to keep up with everything that's in the pipeline. And

Chris Spear:

yeah, I don't track leads, I just, I respond to emails as best I can similarly to you it's, it's kind of a shitshow. Sometimes, I mean, I have too many emails. And now as Chefs Without Restaurants grows, like I have all my email boxes merged, and I've got stuff coming in from all over the place. And I miss things like I hate to say I've missed gigs. You know, everyone's got a different timeframe, right of what's acceptable. So a client reaches out to you via email on, you know, a Friday night and says, Hey, I want to have you for a dinner. It's been sometimes Monday, maybe even Tuesday before I shoot them back and say, Hey, I didn't hear from you. I went another direction. And that kind of stinks, you know. So Wow, trying to put better better systems into practice, even if it's just like, Hey, I'm working all weekend. Can I get back to you on Tuesday, I'm free that day or whatever, but just let them know. I guess I think sometimes people aren't in such a rush. And that's my bad. And I know I've 100% lost gigs because of poor follow through. And that's something I'm trying to work on.

Unknown:

Yeah, I have I have to and you know, but I kind of chuckled to myself when you're saying, Yeah, I got an email on a Friday night, and I didn't get back till until Monday. And I'm thinking which Monday? Like, you mean, you mean like three days later,

Chris Spear:

but as a consumer, we do we, you know, I do that too. And I think that's where building brand is important. Do you want someone who really wants to hold out for you? Or do you want the next person like if I need to get an oil change, and I call my auto shop and they're closed, or they say, I don't have any openings? This week, I hang up and I just call like, another auto shop to get an oil change, right, like I've moved on in 30 seconds. And I'm sure there are people who reached out to you, they don't hear back from you today. Maybe they sent out three emails in the same day. And the first one to respond. That's why I didn't like thumbtack. I don't know if you've ever messed with thumbtack, I don't want to turn this into a big thumbtack thing. But that's what I felt like that was like as I was like a Pavlov's dog. They're like these people put these things out on the internet saying, I need a caterer for this date. Here's my budget, here's what I like. And like the first two people to respond, they entertain their, you know, pitches. And if you weren't, like responding to their text in like, five minutes, you were gonna lose out on this lead. And it was giving me too much anxiety, feeling like I was pinned to my phone to respond to these people's, you know, every message about a gig.

Unknown:

Yeah, I haven't used thumbtack. But there's a, there's another one that's kind of similar to that, that I signed up for. And I've, I've never responded to any of them. And

Chris Spear:

we're gonna get the Chefs Without Restaurants app going and the Chefs Without Restaurants website where chefs can load their info. And actually, if anyone's listening hit me up, I'm building a database, I don't know if you're in it or not, where I have a database with all your info, your contact info, your specialties, whatever. And I'm using it right now to just get people leads, like some sometimes I work with people in other parts of the country, and they'll say, hey, I need a chef in Atlanta, do you know anyone? And I've got my list, and I know who's in the Atlanta area, and I can just send you over the lead and you take it from there. And I'm not like booking it or anything I just send out and say, Hey, you know, this is your guy talk to him. The whole responding to emails and stuff is tough. But I'd say you know, like, one of my things is, is how can you streamline. So my process used to be I send people a questionnaire to fill out. And it used to be a Word document that was like on my computer, right? So like, I'm away for a couple days, I'd say I don't have my computer, but I was taking my computer with me everywhere. But like, it would be hard for me to respond because I felt like there was something I needed to attach and send. And I just recently converted that over to a Google Drive form, where now it's a link, I'm on the fly, like I could be in the grocery store and someone's interested. And I'll say like, send them a link and say here, can you fill out this. And then I've got the info all in one place. And I don't have to come home because that's where I was losing things as I'd be working our way for a couple days, like I got to get in front of my laptop and attach this document. And I was just like, I don't know why it took me 10 years to figure this out. But I just put the questionnaire into a Google form. And now I can just send it to anyone to fill out. And the nice thing about that is then it can be collated into an Excel file, right that you can export where you have all of your clients names, addresses, phone numbers, emails in one document, instead of like having to open up 100 different ones. And this was like, my brain exploded when I figured this out.

Unknown:

I recently kind of started playing around with with some tools, you know, what we would call in the tech, you know, productivity tools, right? I find that a lot of times I end up going down these rabbit trails of trying to figure out how to get the tool to do what I want or or learning it or whatever. And I've blown you know, I basically wasted, you know, hours sitting there playing around with this to try and get it tweaked and, you know, and it's, I don't know, I got add on a lot of things so I can I can easily just, you know, miss the point of what I'm trying to do for me to like that. So, yeah, it's it's, I don't know, that's, that's probably my biggest challenges is keeping up with that staying on top of it. But you know, kind of the, just the general back office stuff, you know, taking care of marketing, that's a little more fun. All right, it's learning like the cooking pieces, the easy part, right? Like, you know, it's all of the other stuff of you know, just accounting and how, how to how to set it up how to track it, how to, you know, all that kind of stuff, and I guess it's, uh, you know, beats the hell out of the alternative. Well,

Chris Spear:

looking at food if we were to open your fridge and pantry what are some things you always have in there? Like what are what's your jam, man? A cereal? What's your jam? If you're cooking for customers or what's your culinary crutch? What are some ingredients always

Unknown:

Yeah, I have got literally a wall of butter in my freezer. So anything anything with butter, anything with cream. I keep you know I do a lot of my shopping at restaurant depot. So I buy certain things like I've got, you know, I keep duck on hand almost all the time. A lot of you know really honestly a lot of my stuff because because I live, you know, by myself except for, you know, one of my kids does with me part time and most of what I eat what I do is just, you know, leftovers from what I'm cooking for other people. Yeah, I don't know. I don't I don't I don't know that I could really say that I have. Have one.

Chris Spear:

Well, where do you find inspiration? I mean, I know. You know, you kind of do Southern stuff, are you? And everyone says Instagram so Instagram doesn't count. Even if you use Instagram like are you looking? Do you read cookbooks? Do you have favorite chefs that you like to follow?

Unknown:

I don't really have too many favorite chefs necessarily, but what I think were most of my inspiration comes from Yeah, I'm I love cookbooks, I probably got over 200 cookbooks around and I and it's everything. Like, you know if I was to go back to a chef and again, I'll throw it back kind of old school like I've got the entire series of Charlie Trotter books. And I love those you know, I love the pictures and I'm I like to just you know, what I kind of developed and some of this goes back to you know, kind of Nava. I grew up in the Midwest. But my mom was from Knoxville, Tennessee, and she was she was just Southern cook through and through. And honestly, not a particularly great one. But she you know, she she would do all the southern dishes and so you know, fried okra and tomato, cucumber salads and all of these kinds of things. Banana pudding. You know, I've talked about a lot of these recently on like my social media. So when I worked at Nava Nava was a fine dining restaurant with a Southwestern flair. And I thought, Man, it would be cool to do that kind of thing was something else. So I started started exploring, like Southern Cooking and Native American cooking, I've got a couple of things that, you know, interests in that direction. So I started really looking into kind of like, what is American food? You know, and where did it come from? And I love getting into the history and stuff so so looking at something like Brunswick stew, right? How do you make Brunswick still, like elevated? And and so I'll just sit there and come up with something. And I, you know, last year, I wanted to do a southern experience. And so I posted it out on like, my personal Facebook like, hey, what is what is Southern food? What's a quintessential Southern dish? People came back with all these lists of things. And I started going through and I'm like, Oh, cool. How do I take fried green tomatoes and elevate that, you know, how do I take tomato cucumber salad and elevate that, you know, and so that's kind of where I where a lot of it comes from. I've never worked in any, you know, true. Foreign restaurants. I've never worked in an Italian restaurant or a French restaurant. Everything that I've done even when I did work at Italian It was like Marciano so is that American, Italian. Everything I've done has been, you know, American cuisine. And so I like to take that and kind of understand where a dish came from being in the south, the southern Appalachian Mountains, and there's just tons of heritage here. And kind of looking at like, why is cornbread a thing? You know, why is barbecued? Why is pork a thing? You know, like Brunswick stew, where to come from, and then take those and kind of kind of riff on them. That's, that's where I spend a lot of my time. So I just picked up like Sean Brock. You know, what is it? The Heritage cookbook that he's got? He's

Chris Spear:

got two I think heritage was his first and South was the second South is more approachable, like, heritage is great reading and I love it. But I look at some of those things. Like I am not making anything from this book. Yeah.

Unknown:

Whether or not I actually ever make them. You know, I don't I don't really read recipes. Unless I'm baking inspiration. I

Chris Spear:

mean, I yeah, I've made a lot of things out of cookbooks. I mean, I still cook out of cookbooks, but I still have this tough time not tinkering. Like, I go into it, saying I'm gonna make this recipe 100% the way it's written the first time. And still, like I have this urge, like, I feel like it needs some smoked paprika or something in there, you know, and I just have to tinker with it.

Unknown:

I'm the same way I'll go in with the best intentions. But as soon as I have to break out a measuring spoon, then it's all bets are off. Like, it's like I'm done, I'm not gonna go through. I'm not gonna break out measuring. So

Chris Spear:

I'm a big believer in weighing things. I'm all about the grand scale. 100% I tell people like, Don't even bother cooking my recipes if you don't have a scale, like as I start putting more recipes on the internet, because it's repeatable. You know, like, some things you can totally make by taste like I could look at a barbecue sauce recipe and make a barbecue sauce and like, it's gonna be, you know, close enough to a quarter cup of vinegar or whatever. But a lot of these things like when I'm really trying to ratchet down how I did it. I'm breaking out that scale and not just for baking, you know, just to kind of get on the right page with a lot of the stuff I do like using my gram scale.

Unknown:

Yeah, that's probably why my cookbooks moving very, very slowly. Like I've been I started working on one but then it's like now I gotta like dial in a recipe to make it repeatable. And it's probably not going to go that far down that.

Chris Spear:

Well. That's why I worry that people aren't going to make my recipes when I put them out. Like I just, you know, this past week, my podcast guest was the brewer brew master from victory brewing, and I wanted to use their beers to make some recipes, and I gave them to a blogger to post on her site. And I think people get used to it on my website, but I was making you know, one was like a chocolate truffle recipe, and it's like, I'm gonna weigh this in grams, like, I'm gonna get them close with, like, it's a cup of crushed pretzels, but like, it depends on how finely you crush them. Like, if you go with 100 grams or pretzels, you're gonna get this right. If your cup is You crushed them too much, you're gonna have too much in there like, and it's just, I tell people, like just go spend 15 bucks and buy a scale.

Unknown:

Right, I've got one. Right now it's got some of my ramekins, sitting on top of it, but I do use it for baking. Like, I've got a flourless chocolate cake and I got away out, you know, the, you know, the different chocolates and things like that. So I use them, but I just once I have to start like really dialing in and reading and paying attention to that level, I kind of lose some of it. So you know, I'm, I'm the I'm the classic, you know, cook, I will do savory all day long. And my kids even give me a hard time because they know anytime I'm prepping for an event, desserts always going to be the last thing I made, I put it off and put it off and put it off, you know, but, you know, I like to freestyle a lot. And you know, it's just kind of, I don't know, it's when the Add kicks in.

Chris Spear:

What do you want to leave our listeners with today? Ah,

Unknown:

man, you know, I think I think on that kind of similar note, I was having a conversation at one of my more recent gigs. And these guys came in and they said, you know, can we cook? Can we watch you cook? Or can we help or whatever? And I'm like, absolutely ask me questions, you know, get in there. And so one of the guy asked me, like, I want to get better. How do you recommend I do that? And I was like, my answer was throw away the recipe book. You know, read a recipe understand, like, you know, you mentioned barbecue sauce, understand what his barbecue sauce made of, it's got tomato, it's got vinegar, it's got mustard, and it's, you know, it's got sugar, those four elements, and they make up a barbecue sauce play with it. Yeah, it's just food. You know, so what if you screw it up, it's just food, you know, but get in there and really, you know, really get in and play and have fun with it and get passionate about it. And that's, that's what I try to bring to all my plates, rather than being stuffy with it. And you know, making sure that the flowers in the exact right spot, you know, it's just food and food is awesome. I think the point I'm trying to make is, you know, I see a lot of people get hung up on on the details of memorizing a recipe, you know, how many cups of vinegar versus sugar versus tomato versus, you know, mustard or whatever, in that recipe? Well, understanding those and then understanding the balances, you know, acid versus sugar, textures, and really kind of getting in and playing and understanding those things. And then it kind of goes, Yeah, I read the recipes, but understand what it's trying to do understand what it's trying to bring out and then then have fun and freestyle riff on it.

Chris Spear:

Well, I think that's great advice and a great place to leave the show today. Thanks so much for coming on the show. Yeah, I appreciate it was a lot of fun. And to all of our listeners, this has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. As always, you can find us at ChefsWithoutR staurants.com and.org and on a l social media platforms. T anks so much, and have a great d y.