Chris Spear

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If you’ve ever worked for yourself, you know it can be lonely. The need to collaborate or at least blow off steam with colleagues between meetings is why everyone should go ahead and buy stock in the impossibly popular co-working space WeWork. 

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Chris Spear, who operates D.C. area catering company Perfect Little Bites, can relate. “I’m working all by myself,” he says. “I miss having a team to bounce ideas off of.” Since there’s no physical co-working space for chefs with jobs that aren’t in a traditional restaurant kitchen, Spear is building an online network for food truck operators, caterers, and personal chefs. It’s been on the back burner for the past five years but Spear finally launched Chefs Without Restaurants this month. 

One of Chefs Without Restaurants’ main goals is to build a referral network. “I get a ton of business from other personal chefs who can’t handle all of the work,” Spear says. That’s common in catering, especially if you’re a one-man-band. “What if you could go to a website to find dozens of chefs in the area who do what I do?”  Other times, events might be too large for one caterer to handle so an operator may want to loop in a second company to help.

Spear hopes people will utilize the network in myriad other ways including trading cookbooks and finding a chef to split a whole animal with. There may even be events in the future that would showcase those who are a part of the network.

There is no fee to join. And, as a part of his work with Chefs Without Restaurants, Spear isn’t afraid to share his business plan with those looking to enter the catering field.

He made the switch to catering for a better work-life balance after his wife had twins. “I don’t want to be at a restaurant until 2 a.m.,” he says. “The 18-hour days are insane. Chefs get burned out. The natural next steps for a lot of chefs is moving out of hyper-fine dining.”

Chefs Without Restaurants is just beginning to take shape and Spear is looking for feedback on what will serve the community best. The Facebook group already has more than 250 members.