Why Doing Free Work as a Personal Chef is a Recipe for Disaster

The Dangers of Free Work for Personal Chefs

On this week’s Chefs Without Restaurants Podcast

On this week’s podcast, I discuss the dangers of free work for personal chefs. As a personal chef, my business is centered around providing my clients with a restaurant-style experience in the comfort of their own home. This includes personalized menus, table service, and even bringing my own cooking equipment and dishware. However, one mistake I made in the early days of my business was thinking that attending events and giving out free food was a good way to market myself and attract paying customers. In this post, I’ll share some of my experiences with this approach and why I believe it ultimately doesn’t work.

The Problems with Free Work

One of the main issues with doing free work is that it can be difficult to effectively showcase your skills and services when you’re limited to a small, sample-sized portion of food at an event. My business is based on providing an in-home dining experience with personalized menus and table service, which is not something that can be easily translated to a six-foot table in a mall on a Sunday afternoon. Additionally, the caliber of food I’m able to give away for free is not going to be on par with what I’m able to serve at a full-scale dinner event.

Another issue with free work is that it can be time-consuming and costly. For example, I once paid to have a table at an event and gave out hundreds of portions of free food, only to have people come by, grab a bite, and move on to the next table without taking a business card or showing any real interest in hiring me. Similarly, I was once convinced to do a dinner on a boat, which involved a lot of time and effort setting up and preparing food on a grill. While I had hoped to get some exposure to food media and potentially land some gigs as a result, the event ended up being a disaster and I didn’t end up getting any new business out of it.

The Better Alternative

Simply put…Don’t do it. After experiencing a number of failures with this approach, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not necessary (or even effective) to do free work in order to succeed in business. I’ve found that my skills and services are valuable enough that I don’t need to give them away for free in order to attract paying customers. Over the past five years, my side hustle has become my primary source of income, and I’ve been able to build a successful business without having to attend expos or work for free.

Final Take-away

Doing free work as a personal chef (or in any creative or service-based business) is not a successful marketing strategy. While it may seem like a good way to get in front of potential customers, it’s ultimately time-consuming, costly, and might not effectively showcase your skills and services. Instead, focus on the value you can provide to your clients and charge accordingly. This will not only help you build a successful business, but it will also help you attract the right kind of clients who are willing to pay for your services.

Relevant Links and Where to Learn About Chefs Without Restaurants

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Chef Virginia Willis on Writing Cookbooks and Her Wellness Journey

chef virginia willis

About Virginia Willis

This week on the podcast I have James Beard Foundation Award-winner, chef Virginia Willis. She was the TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree and executive producer for Epicurious TV on the Discovery Channel. She’s made cookies with Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Bill Clinton with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Virginia is the author of a number of books including Lighten Up, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits.

On This Week’s Podcast

On the show, we discuss how she got into writing cookbooks, how her cooking style has changed, and her wellness journey which has led to her losing 70 pounds. We talk about food media, and credible sources for recipes and cooking tips. Virginia’s also passionate about sustainable seafood, and we discuss that as well.

This Week’s Sponsor

Looking to make better pizza? How about bagels, bread, or English muffins? Then you need a Baking Steel. Don’t just take my word for it. Kenji López-Altof Serious Eats/The Food Lab said “this is the answer I’ve been waiting for to produce consistently awesome pizza over and over”.

You can listen to the show on PodpagePodlink,  BuzzsproutITunesSpotifyTuneInStitcherAmazon MusicPandora I Heart Radio, and everywhere podcasts are found.

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Virginia Willis

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Virginia’s Instagram
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Virginia’s Eating Well Recipes

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CHEFS WITHOUT RESTAURANTS

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If you enjoy the show, and would like to support it financially, check out our Patreon, or you can donate through Venmo or Buy Me a Coffee


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Founder Chris Spear’s personal chef business Perfect Little Bites

Learn How to Start an Online Cooking Class Business with Chef Matt Finarelli

Chef Matt Finarelli

About Matt Finarelli

This week on the podcast I have personal chef and cooking instructor Matt Finarelli. Matt was a guest on our show way back in March 2020. In fact, he might’ve been the last in-person show that we recorded before the Covid shut down. If you’re interested in hearing that episode, it was number 24, and you can find the link here

Due to the situation with Covid, Matt didn’t feel comfortable going into people’s homes to cook or provide lessons. But, like most people, he needed some form of income. So, Matt turned to online cooking classes. It wasn’t something he had experience with, but he found a way to make it work. Now, he wants to share that knowledge with you. 

On This Week’s Podcast

Matt talks about how he got started, and what he learned along the way. He’ll tell you what gear he’s using, how he sets up the online classes, and what his price structure looks like. While Matt plans on going back to in-home dinners and lessons, he says that he’ll definitely be continuing to do the online classes, and wanted to provide tactical information to help you set up a similar business. If you’d like to learn how to make money with online cooking classes, this is the episode for you. 

This Week’s Sponsor

Looking to make better pizza? How about bagels, bread, or English muffins? Then you need a Baking Steel. Don’t just take my word for it. Kenji López-Altof Serious Eats/The Food Lab said “this is the answer I’ve been waiting for to produce consistently awesome pizza over and over”.

You can listen to the show on PodpagePodlink,  BuzzsproutITunesSpotifyTuneInStitcherAmazon MusicPandora I Heart Radio, and everywhere podcasts are found.

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Matt Finarelli

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Matt’s Instagram
Matt’s Website
Matt’s Facebook
Two Hands, One Drink on YouTube

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CHEFS WITHOUT RESTAURANTS

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If you enjoy the show, and would like to support it financially, check out our Patreon, or you can donate through Venmo or Buy Me a Coffee


Get the Chefs Without Restaurants Newsletter
Visit Our Amazon Store (we get paid when you buy stuff)

Chefs Without Restaurants Facebook page

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Founder Chris Spear’s personal chef business Perfect Little Bites

Flavors Unknown with Emmanuel Laroche

podcast with emmanuel laroche of flavors unknown

About Emmanuel Laroche

This week my podcast guest is Emmanuel Laroche. Emmanuel has more than 20 years in the food ingredient industry, and is currently in charge of marketing for a company that manufactures flavors for food and beverage companies like Unilever and Nestle. 

In 2018 Emmanuel launched the Flavors Unknown podcast. Every other week he speaks to the chefs, pastry chefs, and bartenders who are creating tomorrow’s trends. Full disclosure… I was a guest this Spring, and you can hear me on episode 65

On This Week’s Podcast

Emmanuel has a master’s degree in organic chemistry, and an internship for his MBA led him to this career in flavor manufacturing. On the show, you’ll hear his origin story. We also talk about his podcast, how and why he started it, and some takeaways from the guests he’s had on his show. Some of his guests include chefs Andrew McLeodLevon Wallace, Philip Spear, Misti Norris, and today he’s releasing an episode with pastry chef François Payard.

This Week’s Sponsor

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%

Relevant Links and Where to Learn About Emmanuel Laroche and Flavors Unknown

You can listen to the show on PodpagePodlink,  BuzzsproutITunesSpotifyTuneInStitcherAmazon MusicPandora I Heart Radio, and everywhere podcasts are found.

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Emmanuel Laroche

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Flavors Unknown Instagram
Flavors Unknown Twitter
Flavors Unknown Website
Flavors Unknown Podcast
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If you want to support the show, our Venmo name is ChefWoRestos and can be found at https://venmo.com/ChefWoRestos. If you enjoy the show, have ever received a job through one of our referrals, have been a guest,  or simply want to help, it would be much appreciated. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

Farm to Table, Indian Cooking, and More Than Masala with Chef Keith Sarasin

chef keith sarasin

About Keith Sarasin

This week my guest is chef Keith Sarasin. With his business, The Farmers Dinner, Keith and other guest chefs bring a multi-course dinner out to the farms of New England. Keith also has a deep love and respect for Indian cooking, which he expresses through his Indian-inspired pop-up experience Aatma. On his More Than Masala podcast, he and co-host Ragini of Third Culture Cooks, take a deep dive into a singular spice. And while we didn’t even get into it on the show, Keith has published a number of cookbooks

Berbere Butternut Squash Bisque - Chorizo - Pecan Oil Everything Bagel Croutons
Berbere Butternut Squash Bisque – Chorizo – Pecan Oil Everything Bagel Croutons

On This Week’s Podcast

On this episode, we discuss farm-to-table cooking, and being a responsible chef as it relates to your community and the environment. We talk about food waste, educating your customers, cultural appropriation, and mental health. And of course, we talk about Indian cooking, and his podcast. 

This Week’s Sponsor

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%

Maine Lobster - Quark & Spring Garlic Stuffed Morels -Sumac Shoots - Brown Butter Milk Crumbs - Spring Carrot Purée- Tamarack Needles
Maine Lobster – Quark & Spring Garlic Stuffed Morels -Sumac Shoots – Brown Butter Milk Crumbs – Spring Carrot Purée- Tamarack Needles

Relevant Links and Where to Learn About Keith Sarasin

You can listen to the show on PodpagePodlink,  BuzzsproutITunesSpotifyTuneInStitcherAmazon MusicPandora I Heart Radio, and everywhere podcasts are found.

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Keith Sarasin

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Keith’s Instagram
Keith’s Website
Keith’s Facebook
Recommended Reading: India: The CookbookThe Illustrated Foods of IndiaPrashad Cooking with Indian Masters
Chef to Know: Chintan Pandya

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CONNECT WITH US

================

SUPPORT US ON PATREON
Get the Chefs Without Restaurants Newsletter
Visit Our Amazon Store (we get paid when you buy stuff)
Connect on Clubhouse
Check out our websites (they have different stuff) https://chefswithoutrestaurants.org/ & https://chefswithoutrestaurants.com/

Like our Facebook page

Join the private Facebook group

Join the conversation on Twitter

Check our Instagram pics

Founder Chris Spear’s personal chef business Perfect Little Bites https://perfectlittlebites.com/

Watch on YouTube

If you want to support the show, our Venmo name is ChefWoRestos and can be found at https://venmo.com/ChefWoRestos. If you enjoy the show, have ever received a job through one of our referrals, have been a guest,  or simply want to help, it would be much appreciated. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.