The meez Podcast

The Chef Radio Podcast: Josh Sharkey-Chef, Entrepreneur and Founder of meez

December 05, 2023 Josh Sharkey
The meez Podcast
The Chef Radio Podcast: Josh Sharkey-Chef, Entrepreneur and Founder of meez
Show Notes Transcript

We are delighted to present an episode from The Chef Radio Podcast hosted by Eli Kulp, where our CEO, Josh Sharkey, was featured as a guest. Stay tuned for the upcoming Season 2 of The meez Podcast scheduled to premiere in January 2024!

"Josh Sharkey trained under some incredible, generational chef talent, like David Bouley, like Indian super star chef, Floyd Cardoz, and the Great Gray Kunz, and in doing so, he built up his repertoire and his résumé, so no matter what he did, he would be successful. But after working for these industry titans, he found himself on a new mission. It was after he lost an important notebook that was chock-full of recipes and techniques that he had been taught over the years that he came up with the idea of developing software where no recipe, no technique, or learned knowledge will ever go missing again because someone lost their notebook.

Where to find Eli Kulp: 

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

In this episode, we cover:

  • After Josh's father passed when he was just a teenager, he began cooking for his family
  • Training as a chef in Oslo with Chef Terje Ness at Oro
  • Eating donkey in Piedmont 
  • Working with Chef Floyd Cardoz at Tabla and why it was a dream kitchen
  • Cooking with headlamps during the NYC blackout of 2003
  • Working with Chef David Bouley at the restaurant's height
  • Why working in Café Gray, with Chef Gray Kunz, was so instrumental in Josh's upbringing
  • The perfection that is the Kunz spoon
  • Josh’s first foray into entrepreneurship with Bark Hotdogs
  • No matter how good your product is, you have to be able to tell a story with your food
  • The moment he came up with the concept of his recipe company, MEEZ
  • Why MEEZ is an incredibly powerful tool for kitchens
  • How they painstakingly converted product yields into the software
  • The ease of training your teams when using MEEZ
  • Why building MEEZ has given him more fulfillment than his career in the kitchen

A huge shout out to our sponsors, Maxwell McKenney and Singer Equipment, for their unwavering support, which allows us to be able to bring these conversations to you. Check out their websites for all the amazing equipment they can supply your restaurant with to make your team more efficient and successful.

Welcome to our newest sponsor, Meez, which is one of the most powerful tools you can have as a cook and chef because it allows you to have a free repository for all of your recipes, techniques and methods so that you never lose them. Meez does way more than just recipe development though, it's an incredibly powerful tool that any chef or restaurant would benefit from."

[00:00:00] Josh Sharkey: 

Hey, listeners, while we're in between season one and season two, we will be sharing a few episodes from other podcasts that we love that I joined as a guest. Uh, this one is with chef Eli Kulp on his show, The Chef Radio podcast, a really great show. Eli was also a guest on the meez podcast earlier this year, and it's been really awesome to get to know him over the past year, both, uh, as guests on each other's shows and just generally over calls catching up.


Uh, and speaking of guests, if there's anyone that you'd love to hear on the meez podcast in the future, or just topics that you'd like to hear more about, uh, shoot me a DM on LinkedIn or Instagram anyways, thanks so much. And as always enjoy the show. 

[00:00:44] Eli Kulp: 

Who you work for matters. It matters for a lot of reasons. It matters because the ones who teach you early on in your career will have a lasting impact on how your career will go. If you work for dirty chefs, you'll probably become a dirty chef. It's just a fact. If you work for chefs who have high standards, meticulous eye for details, and are great leaders, then you'll probably have some of that in you.


Just like children, cooks are a product of their environment, and it's hard to have a certain standard if you've never worked in that standard. Sure, this is a blanket statement, and there are plenty of examples of students who have ascended beyond their teachers, but in general, this statement really sticks.


But there are some other reasons. One of which is, if you have high achieving chefs on your resume, then it's more likely that it's going to open doors for you as you progress through your career than if you have a resume full of mediocre chefs and restaurants that no one's ever heard about. It's also more likely to get people to trust you quicker once you have your own restaurant, because they see the respectable chefs and restaurants that you've worked for.


Whether it's your future staff or your future customers, if you have recognizable, well respected chefs and restaurants on your resume, it's more likely that you're going to be successful in hiring high quality employees and getting excited customers in your seats. Our guest today, Josh Sharkey, worked for some incredible generational talent, the likes of David Bouley, Indian superstar chef Floyd Cardoz, and the great Greg Kunz.

[00:02:06] Eli Kulp: 

And he built up his repertoire and his resume so no matter what he did, he would be successful at it. But after working for these industry titans, he found himself on a new mission. It was after he lost an important notebook that was chock full of recipes and techniques that he had been taught over the years, that he came up with the idea of developing software where no recipe, no technique, or no learned knowledge will ever go missing again because somebody loses their notebook.


In fact, it was that experience of losing his notebook full of information that he worked so hard to attain that made him really motivated to create the world's best platform for chefs and restaurants, which he calls meez. And if you listen to the podcast, the last few episodes, you've probably come across the ad spot for me's, which was created by Josh.


Who after years of R&D has come up with an incredibly important tool that any cook or chef should have in their back pocket. And what you're going to hear today is the story of going from an unlikely cook to being a chef in some of the world's best kitchens. And why he felt it was so important to develop this incredibly powerful tool.


So hang tight, we have a great episode for you today. Chock full of storytelling and all sorts of fun little tidbits that you're not going to want to miss.

[00:03:27] Eli Kulp: 

Okay, everybody. Welcome back to the Chef Radio podcast, America's number one chef driven podcast. If you've joined us before, welcome back to Chef Radio. If it's your first time, welcome to the family. I really appreciate that you've decided to spend some time. with us today. Chef Radio is a podcast that's built for culinary professionals just like you who are working hard to one day leave your mark on our amazing industry and who crave insight into the minds of leading chefs.

[00:03:53] Eli Kulp: 

I'm Eli Kulp, co founder of High Street Hospitality Group based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I've had the privilege of working in this incredible industry for a long time now. I wouldn't change it for a thing because what this industry can give you If you work hard and push yourself to constantly improve by learning and listening is a fulfillment that few careers can give you.


And maybe you're listening to this while you're picking a couple quarts of parsley, or maybe you're sharpening your knives. I hope that each time you listen to one of these journeys, you become more knowledgeable, more thoughtful, and a better leader than you were before you press the play button. All right, so now's the time.

[00:04:26] Eli Kulp: Let's get into it. Without further ado, meet Josh Sharkey, founder of meez. Josh, it's great to have you on the show. Welcome to Chef Radio. 

[00:04:40] Josh Sharkey:

Good to be here Eli.

[00:04:42] Eli Kulp:

How are you today? Yeah, I see you've got a nice brick background there. Looks like you're outside, maybe? On this joyous day?

[00:04:52] Josh Sharkey: 

Well, it is beautiful. My lilac tree just started blooming, but, uh, I'm actually inside. This is, uh, this stone wall because my house was built in the 30s.

[00:05:02] Josh Sharkey: 

And, uh, we live kind of in the forest. And, uh, so one part of my house is all this stone. 

[00:05:07] Eli Kulp: 

Oh, really cool. Well, the light that's hitting it right now, it looks like you're outside. So you have some good light streaming through. 

[00:05:12] Josh Sharkey: 

It's a big window to my left. So, 

[00:05:14] Eli Kulp: yeah, very cool. Very cool. So how are you today?

What's going on? 

[00:05:18] Josh Sharkey: 

I'm doing great, man. You know, you had a, had a good morning, a good run. My kids got to school on time. They were happy. So, you know, good start to a day. 

[00:05:26] Eli Kulp: 

So Josh, you're someone who started off with all the ambitions of being a chef. You worked in some really fantastic restaurants. You went to Johnson and Wales right out of high school. Talk about those early days of food and what it meant to you and why you decided to get into it. 

[00:05:41] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, well, I guess we went way back. My, my father passed away when I was 16 and I, I, I primarily, you know, was, um, thank you. I, I, I was, I was a wrestler in high school and, and actually in college as well, but I thought that's what I would go to college for.


But after my father passed away, I started cooking for the family because my mom worked nights. And so I ended up making dinner, uh, many nights at home and really enjoyed it. And then just randomly entered this contest, uh, from a culinary school that I didn't know of called Johnson and Wales. I, I grew up in Northern Virginia and somehow I like won the contest.


I don't know how, uh, but, uh, I actually still remember what it was like a red pepper sorbet with tuna. Oh, wow. Okay. Uh, tuna, uh, tuna, sashimi, something. And I'm You're avant garde, right? Well, in retrospect, I'm like, I don't even know where I, I probably never ate that once as a 16 year old kid in Virginia, but somehow that's what I made.


And so anyways, I, I, I went to culinary school at Johnson and Wales, then started cooking. I didn't really get into like the real sort of like profession of it until a little bit, a year or so after I went to Nantucket there for a while. And then I ended up entering another contest. Inadvertently, a buddy of mine was like, Hey, you should do this.


I don't even remember why or how I did it, but It turned out it was a bigger contest than I thought. It was, um, with the Norwegian Seafood Export Council and, um, I, I entered that and I come up with a recipe with Norwegian salmon. I submitted it. Turns out it was like, you know, it was all of U. S. and South America and, and, um, I won.


They flew me to New York for the finals. The judges were Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Rick Moonen. Oh, wow. Okay. And, um, Rocco Dispirito. Luckily, I had no idea who they were at the time. I was like, yeah, like 2000. And I, so I wasn't, I wasn't as nervous as I should have been. Um, and I won that. Ignorance is bliss, right?


Yeah. So, so I got to travel through Norway with, um, with those chefs and, and this guy, John Mariani, who's a food writer. From, uh, the Reconstituted Export Council and this company called the Food Group. During that time, I cooked at some restaurants there. One of which was this restaurant called Oro. Uh, which was this chef named Terje Nes, who had just won the Bocuse d'Or the year before in 99.


And, I was fucking blown away. I was like, oh my god. This is, this is it. You know, like everything came in every day. We were like, like taking shallots off of the root and cleaning those and like, everything was just like new. And I remember so much of it still 20 some odd years later. And I was like, this is what I want to do with my life.


And I stayed and I started, I kept cooking there, you know, I mean, you know, the drill was 16 hour days, but like never felt like it, it was just awesome. And so I came back and ended up moving to New York. How long were you there for? I think like, I don't remember how many. It was months, you know, it wasn't years or anything.


Oh, uh, okay. Um, and then I, luckily, you know, like, I was able to, you know, take a job with one of those restaurants. I ended up picking, um, Oceana over La Bernardine. I don't remember why, but I But I did, and I really, like, I loved working, you know, in Oceania, so much, learned so much there. Sure. Yeah. Uh, with, with Sheriff Rick Moonen.

[00:08:34] Eli Kulp: 

Yeah, we both, we both worked there. You, you worked there a couple of years before me. That's right. I came on a little bit, like 2004, I came on. 

[00:08:42] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, I left in 2002, just as, uh, Neil was, um, 

[00:08:47] Eli Kulp: 

Neil? Right, right, right. Neil, uh, Cornelius Gallagher. 

[00:08:50] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, yeah Just as he was coming on like rick left and then this guy Michael shank was there for stepped up for a little bit and then neil came on and I left right after neil came Because originally I was going to start working at Jean George and I did but then I got this job in Italy And I felt terrible, like, uh, you know, please don't, please don't hate me for, I'm sure he doesn't remember, but like, uh, I started working there and then a couple of weeks in, I was like, look, man, I got to go to Italy.


I got this opportunity. I can't turn it down. And I ended up going to Italy. So left that and then came back, you know, for where in Italy were you in Piedmont. And then I traveled around a little bit after that. Um, and, um, sort of felt had this love affair with sherry and so went to end up going after there to nice nice to sound up caribou tomato and then i'll run ahead as area and and then eventually came back and um was introduced to Floyd Cardoz at Tabla started working there 

[00:09:45] Eli Kulp: 

well hold on let's go back to italy real quick how long were you there for? 

[00:09:48] Josh Sharkey: 

Um, again, just a few months. It wasn't, it wasn't, um, years.

[00:09:51] Eli Kulp: 

Where you had a specific restaurant?

[00:09:54] Josh Sharkey: 

One in particular called Financier. And, um, it was actually the dish. There's like this really cool dish there that, um, they make, um, there's like braised donkey and things like that. And, um, and, and part of it was also, what'd you say? Donkey.


Donkey. Yeah. Like they, yeah. Bra, donkey, donkey. No, no. Red wine, braised donkey. Oh, red wine. I mean, donkey is one of the things they have. They, they, I see, I see a bunch of meats there. Horse things like Delicious. 

[00:10:16] Eli Kulp: 

So Don Donkey, uh, that's their signature dish?

[00:10:18] Josh Sharkey: 

Uh, it's one, one of them signature of, but they, they, they eat it and they, part of it was also that I was able to participate in the thing called the Augusto, which is this, this really cool food event.


Mm-Hmm. . And I cooked for the, for the US there, uh, with some other folks. So cooked the dinner there, and so I got to just. Meet a whole bunch of folks there. So it was a whole experience. It was more than just my phone. It was a whole experience there. So yeah. And traveling around the country. Um, spent a lot of time in Ligurmania.


And then on the, on the West coast in the Ligurian area. And in Piedmont, obviously. Yep. And then just whirled around, you know, Europe a little bit and then came back. And like I said, I was introduced to Floyd, started working at Tabla, and it was amazing. It was like a, it was like a Cook's dream. Yeah, was it?

[00:11:02] Eli Kulp: 

Yeah. How long had Tabla been open?


[00:11:05] Josh Sharkey: 

Maybe five, six years, I think. 

[00:11:08] Eli Kulp: 

Okay. Something like that. And for anyone who doesn't know Tabla, Tabla was this really sort of game changing Indian restaurant, uh, that was part of the Union Square hospitality group. How would you describe Tabla? I never ate there. It was still around when I was in New York, but I just never got to eating there. How would you describe as a restaurant and the impact that it had on the industry?

[00:11:30] Josh Sharkey:

I mean, you can kind of say it was ahead of its time. Uh, it really brought Indian food to the forefront, but even then I think people weren't quite like ready as a, as a, as a, uh, consumer culture to fully embrace Indian food.


But it was everything, uh, that you would want out of just an incredible sort of, I want to say French kitchen, but not necessarily that it was French, just like very technique driven. Uh, so I'm saying this from the eyes of a, of a cook. But I could maybe talk about it as a, as a customer as well, but very technique driven, every technique you could think of that you want to learn, you can learn there, but through the lens of Indian cuisine and Indian cuisine is very, if you don't know, it's similar to like Mexican or many Middle Eastern, there's, there's so many regions.


Sure. India that the difference between Goan cuisine and Kashmiri or something or hybrid, they're very different. And so you, you also learned all these flavors and of course, spices that you never would have ever learned otherwise and see these parallels between different cuisines that the way you wouldn't think about Indian cuisine.


And so it was kind of a cook's dream in that we got to work with all these spices that you had never seen before and all these flavors. And so you learned a lot about flavors you probably wouldn't have seen before. And Floyd, Floyd was such a technician that we were breaking down all of our own, every type of animal you can think of.


We were getting Ruan ducks and air curing them and blowing them fans before service and brining and like frying squab. And just so many things that like, you know, uh, that were just incredible sprouting all of our own beans for salads. And Just, it was really like a wonderland. Yeah, definitely ahead of their time.


Yeah, and then the restaurant was also bifurcated between, um, like this sort of street food type concept called Bread Bar, and then up top was Tabla, and Tabla was like the fine dining, and Bread Bar was sort of the more, like, you know, casual, like, um, there's a big bar. I forgot about Bread Bar. Oh my God.


And, and, I mean, honestly, I think, you know, bread bar was, I feel like we're like more of the universally loved food, cheese culture. 

[00:13:30] Eli Kulp: 

And it was like just the different naans and toppings and chutneys and everything?

[00:13:35] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. So you learned bread baking, you learned all these really cool marinades, you learned how to make rice the right, the right way and how to clean it and just, just.


So much in this tiny kitchen and, and like any job, you know, you, you learn things from every job I've had in the kitchen. Of course, there's so much you learn about how to cook, but then you also learn these really like amazing sort of lessons about, um, business and life, uh, that are the reason why I think chefs make incredible entrepreneurs.


I remember there was a blackout in New York and, um, there was a big 

[00:14:05] Eli Kulp: 

On the big blackout, right?

[00:14:05] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, yeah, and we had headlamps on and like candy burners in the bread bar and just like serving food there because we can't close and we got rent to pay and I love that which is interesting because in retrospect, I don't know if that would, people might be upset now like I don't want to have to work.

[00:14:24] Josh Sharkey: 

I fucking loved it. Um, yeah, so that was, that was Tabla. I was there for quite a while, and then ended up going to, I was supposed to go to Cafe Grey right away, but they had delayed an opening, so it wasn't very close, and so I ended up, this guy John Shaw, uh, was the GM of Tabla, and he went to go run Bouley as the GM, and called me up, and, you know, and I ended up, he was like, hey, do you want to come be a sous chef here?


I was not like, I mean, the sous chefs there at the time were in You know, way more, you know, experience than me, but I went to work there. That was an incredible experience, although, you know, I'll be honest. It was not a great kitchen to be in for many reasons, but it's also an incredible kitchen to be in for many other reasons.

[00:15:05] Eli Kulp: 

And sure. Yeah. I mean, the, the kitchen at Bouley, uh, you know, David Bouley is, uh. He's one of the legends of, uh, New York City chefs. If you look at the, the family tree of chefs, you know, he's one of the top with Daniel and Jean George and, you know, these guys that really were game changing chefs. And, but I think when you were there, correct me if I'm wrong, but Cesar Ramirez was the chef there. Is that right?

[00:15:32] Josh Sharkey: 

So Cesar was the CDC and, um, and then you had Evan Sung and. PJ Calapa and David Santos and Christine Tosi and Alex Grunerd. And I mean, 

[00:15:44] Eli Kulp: 

You said Evan song. Did you mean Evan Rich?

[00:15:45] Josh Sharkey: 

Oh my God. Yeah. I said, I'm sorry, I wasn't Evan yet. I was with Evan yesterday, Evan Rich, not Evan song. 

[00:15:54] Eli Kulp: 

I was like, I didn't know he worked there. Yeah. No, Evan Rich. He did not. Well, it's funny when you mentioned the Evan Rich, when you mentioned the blackout. When I interviewed Evan on this podcast, he also, we talked about the blackout from his perspective at Bouley, which was this crazy two day experience that he'll never forget. And you just brought up the blackout as well.

[00:16:17] Eli Kulp: 

So I think that's pretty funny. And the two of you end up working at Bouley together. 

[00:16:20] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Yeah. He, um, it was, it was. Um, it was great working, uh, next to Evan. I think, um, he was, he was pretty stoic in the way that he quiet, but very, very, very like just solid cook, um, and also just generally just a really, really nice person.


So he, you know, it was a really great crew there. Just very, very, very talented group of folks. But, you know, I'll, I'll be honest, like there's a, there's a bit of a toxicity there. It was sort of, you know, doggy dog and not Oh, without a doubt. Yeah. Not, not in a, not necessarily in a good way to be honest.


Mm-Hmm. . Um, and not Mm-Hmm. , I don't think it was the, it was the cook's fault. Like, you know, obviously, like I have a recipe company now, and one of the things that was. It's a bit frustrating was there was no like, here's how you make the, you know, this parsley puree or the school. It was just like, figure it out.

[00:17:09] Eli Kulp: 

It was like telephone, right? Like this guy did it, this guy did it like this. Is this correct? And then you get to service. If it's not right, then it's you. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:17:19] Josh Sharkey: 

Obviously like double clicking on that. Like the idea that one of your most famous dishes, an ocean herbal broth isn't completely documented.


So you make sure that every customer has it the right way and it all depends on it. The cook that happens to be there does it right is kind of crazy, but that's how it was. 

[00:17:35] Eli Kulp: 

That's kind of how it was in the old, old days. It was just, it was passed down, down the line. Yeah. Yeah. Worked the station. How do I do it?

[00:17:41] Josh Sharkey: 

You know, Thank God Evan Rich happened to memorialize the ratio of butter to potato in the pomme purée. Oh, good. Cause it was gotten the first time I show him, it's just like you, this is here. It's it's. It's these peeled fingerlings and basically do and, and, and so some of that was, uh, it was good sort of learnings I took to, um, to what we do now, but it was, but it was overall, it's great experience, 

[00:18:05] Eli Kulp: 

I never worked there, but, uh, between Evan Rich, who I worked with in New York and then my roommate PJ Kalapa, the chef at Scampi, uh, up in New York now.


I don't know. He was your, we were roommates. So when we first moved down to New York after going to the culinary institute, we were roommates. So I would get. Every day we'd, you know, we'd get home from service exhausted, we'd just, you know, tell each other's war stories. So I feel like I, I knew, I know so much about Bouley even though I never worked there, actually worked there.

[00:18:33] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Oh man. The number of, uh, artichoke lobster terrines that, that PJ must have made among, among other things. I, I remember he was an intern, I believe, uh, from CAA at the time. 

[00:18:43] Eli Kulp: Yeah. He may have been. Yeah.

[00:18:44] Josh Sharkey: 

And he got doused in blue food coloring when he left, which is a good thing. You know, you, you wouldn't get there.

[00:18:52] Eli Kulp: 

I don’t know if that happens anymore these days, but the tradition always was if you left a kitchen and people actually liked you, they would send you off in a really disgusting way typically that involved. Some sort of tar and feathering type, type thing. Fish sauce and, and, uh, or at least, at least an ice bath.

[00:19:12] Eli Kulp: 

But at Oceana, I was the intern, I did my internship there and I left in general, the kitchen liked me or whatever, but I started getting word of, uh, fermenting salmon heads somewhere in the kitchen that people were had in a bucket, like multiple days ahead, fish guts, everything in there. Right. And I'm like, all right, I got to find this thing, right?


I had to locate, I had to locate this bucket of fermenting fish guts that they're planning on dumping on me. I didn't find it. However, when they went to dump it on me, I was quick enough. It only, like, got, like, my back shoulder a little bit, but I remember feeling salmon heads hitting me. You know, it's, it's all a good fun.


It's a little bit of, uh, hazing and all that, but it was all a good fun and I've had countless stories of, of other chefs and my kitchen's leaving and we, we do something fun like that. Yeah. Never, never that extent. That was probably the grossest I was ever a part of, but. 

[00:20:10] Josh Sharkey: 

We have many, uh, many, uh, stories of, uh, some I can't really tell, but some, I remember telling one, one cook to, uh, to a post, and we, we threw water balloons, but it was, you know, all, I promise it was all in good fun, and they were very excited about it, but, you know, it, because it meant something to, 

[00:20:26] Eli Kulp: 

I know a guy who got handcuffed to a bike rack, and they just, they, um, Basically doused him with liquid and doused him with flour. And to the point where he like, he couldn't breathe. It's actually a good friend of mine now. Like he, he started like gagging cause he couldn't breathe from the flour. It's like, he gets a little, all right. That was a little dangerous. Yeah. That's a little much. 

[00:20:45] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. That's a little much. 

[00:20:47] Eli Kulp: 

You can't think out too far ahead sometimes, Captain.

[00:20:50] Josh Sharkey: 

Nah, nah, yeah, we've all messed up a couple. I messed up once with cayenne pepper. Ooh, cayenne peppers. I didn't, I didn't realize what would happen. Um, but anyways, but yeah, that was, it was a great, it was a great kitchen. Oceania was great. Bouley was great. I think Cafe Grey, um, was. You know, while I was at Bouley, I got the call that, like, hey, we're, you know, we're open.

[00:21:10] Josh Sharkey: 

And so I finally, like, decided, yeah, like, I had always wanted to work for Kunz And, um, it was probably the best job I ever had at Cafe Grey for a number of reasons. Was it? Yeah.

[00:21:24] Eli Kulp: 

I remember it like yesterday. That moment of sheer panic after I put my recipe book down. And a few minutes later, I went back and it was gone. It was a legit moment of panic. After searching the kitchen, I realized one of my cooks had mistakenly taken it. And that's exactly what happened to Josh Sharkey, founder and CEO of meez


Except his story didn't have the happy ending mine did, because he never found his recipe book. And all that written knowledge and all those recipes that he had built up in his repertoire over the years, basically went poof. And it was at that moment that Josh realized there had to be a better way and that he knew he could leverage technology to make sure that this doesn't happen to anyone else.


Not only that, but as chef and restaurant owner with 20 plus years of experience in fine dining, Josh was frustrated that there was really only financial and inventory software available for kitchens. While those are important, they don't address the actual process of cooking. Training, production, collaboration, and execution.


If you're a chef, line cook, mixologist, or operator, or maybe just manage recipes intended for professional kitchens, meez is built just for you. And here's the thing, meez is free for the entire culinary industry. You can store and organize your recipes with the most advanced recipe scaling technology on the planet for free.


But if you upgrade to the premium tier, You can even get more. Train and onboard your team, manage production, and even process invoices. Plus, with meez, you get laser accurate food costs, allergen data, and nutrition labeling faster than you could say gluten free. That's because Josh's team of chefs and registered dieticians have been testing thousands of ingredients in the meez database for years to ensure that all of the yield loss unit conversion, allergen data, and more are built right into the ingredients as you add them to your recipes.


So your food costs are more accurate than ever before. Get started by visiting radio. As a listener of the chef radio podcast, you can get 25 free recipe uploads to your meez account by signing up today. So once again, Learn more at getmees. com, that's G E T M E E Z dot com forward slash chef radio.

[00:23:33] Eli Kulp: 

That restaurant opened a lot of fanfare without a doubt. I think the headline was always that the kitchen had the better view of Central Park than the actual restaurant. Uh, the diners, uh, just the way it was situated and the time warners in there, but it was One of those restaurants that had so many expectations for it. I don't remember, it ended up closing, was it because Grey passed or was it? 

[00:23:57] Josh Sharkey: 

No, no, Grey passed long after that. Okay. Grey passed long after that. It closed because, I mean, the rent was, I think it was like 180k. Water alone was like 30k, steam. And, um, even, I mean, I think the first year we might have been, I'm not sure if I should be saying like 12 million.


And then, you know, 9 million was like the average. I mean, still. You know, the couldn't make it couldn't make it work, but you know, it was, it was, it was opulent and it was opulent, but not necessarily like at a price point that you, you know, and, and, um, engraving Grey, like we would send out white truffle and black truffle mid courses to all kinds of people, you know, and, and, and every night there was, you know, somewhat Bill Clinton or Will Smith or, you know, every night was, was that, so you would be sending out a lot of mid courses and, um, Um, And, and of course any cook that came in or just, we, we.


Mid course was not like a, um, nice to have. It was almost like everybody got it. Uh huh. Uh huh. Um, so I'm sure the food cost there wasn't, wasn't great. But still like another example of like a wonderland of, of like learning how to do so much. And, and also just a culture of, of a team.

[00:25:02] Eli Kulp: 

We'll talk about Greg Kunz from a chef standpoint a little bit. Um, he was so instrumental. Like he talked about somebody who had a Incredible influence on the way people ate in America once he started, uh, doing what he did, but talk about the food, the style and what you remember from working there.

[00:25:20] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I mean, it started, you know, long before cafe Grey at Lespinasse and obviously before then he's Swiss born, but, but, um, you know, spent, you know, a lot of time in, in, in Asia as well.


So he has this, he had this sort of mix of very, very technical, very French driven cuisine inspired by Frédy Girardet and the like, but with these flavor profiles that, um, you know, that you would, would not have expected and didn't exist back then when thinking about that kind of cuisine or that sort of like how cuisine calamansi and lemongrass and kaffir and, you know, harissa and all kinds of things.


And so one of the most incredible Things about Grey was his ability to combine ingredients in his head. They structurally all made sense. And then he was also able to then sort of like communicate that in a way where we could, as chefs take that and run with it and find ourselves using chamomile and a chicken dish and it working, or, you know, I think that's one of Grey's greatest legacies, independent of just, he's an incredible chef and made incredible food.


But I think a lot of chefs can attest to like, he also produced incredible chefs. So many chefs came out of his kitchens. So many, so many. So talented, and he had a way of empowering others to do, to do really well. Uh, and to make delicious food. But the, the use of, it's funny, it's almost like a joke internally, of like sugar, salt, and cayenne.


Everything was, you know, sweet, salt, you know, heat. A little bit of spice, huh? No matter what. even if there was not like, there wasn't a dish that was like, Oh, well, this kind of dish, you're going to have like a sweet and sour and everything, every sauce. It doesn't matter if it was even just like, uh, you know, uh, a venison jus, um, with some gin and juniper berries in it, everything gets a little bit of sugar, a little salt, a little, you know, on, on the pickup. And I think that, um, approach was very sort of unique to him. 

[00:27:07] Eli Kulp: 

Well, it probably brightened up what some would consider some sort of. French food has notoriously a little heavy, a little, a little rich, right? Where using these ingredients that were more based in Asia and then the flavors of a little bit of vinegar, a little bit of salt, a little sugar, which is really my way of cooking as well.


Like I have agrodolce, a little bottle of agrodolce on the pass at all times, because that just can add just a little element, whether you put a little bit on. Part of the chicken dish or to finish a veggie and pick it up. Like it just elevates it just on the palate just a little bit more.

[00:27:44] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. The other thing I'll say just, um, I mean, I could talk about great for a long time, but, um, and this might be controversial to say, but in my mind, he is the greatest manipulator of truffles of any chef ever.


Manipulator of truffles. Period, stop. Like, when I say manipulator, he, he uses truffles, his truffle dishes are, in my opinion, just my opinion, are the best, hands down, no question. Okay. Um, just the way, like the way that he, I mean, part of it is just like the, the base of most of his truffle dishes are this, he preserves truffles.


Madeira port and, and black truffle and, um, that ju, that juices. Mm hmm. You know, just a little bit to finish. And, um, so every, every type of truffle 

[00:28:29] Eli Kulp: 

You would buy the winter truffle and preserve them in house?

[00:28:32] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Yeah. So we would get pounds and pounds of truffles. I mean, sometimes we would get the pieces as well and, um, and just preserve them.


Yeah. You just have mason jars and preserve them. And, um, the truffle itself, you would, I don't want to give away the farm here, but like, yeah, you would dice them up and chop them and basically you would crash the, the, the preserved truffles with some, a lot of times we Madeira and poured or. Jerry crashed that, some biljou, but like everything finished with, with this, um, truffle juice among other things.


But just the way that he, the way that he used truffles, I think a lot of times truffles are just like the thing that you add on top of something to just like add truffles, like shaving truffles, which there's nothing wrong with that. But he, the dish was truffle and then it happened to have shaved truffle on top.


It's almost like the shaving was. Whatever, like if we're gonna make a, if we're gonna have foie and truffles, you know, there's gonna be a truffle sauce that is intensely truffle, plus has that sort of sweet and sour, maybe there's some raisin, maybe there's some, you know, some brandy or something like that, and if you didn't shave any truffle on it, it would still be incredible, and then you just, of course, then crash the table with some sliced truffles, and that's fun.


But um, yeah, I think, you know, his, his 

approach to using truffles was You know in my mind of the the best. 

[00:29:41] Eli Kulp: 

What was he like in the kitchen?

[00:29:42] Josh Sharkey: 

Soft spoken, but you knew if he was upset A little bit red. Candidly, like Larry Finn, shout out to Larry, ran the kitchen at Cafe Grey. So he was running the service most of the time.

[00:29:53] Josh Sharkey: 

Grey would be there to tasting a lot and making sure that guests were really happy and You know working with the cooks and things like that. Right, right. So he was, he, he definitely was sort of an orchestrator. Nice. 

[00:30:06] Eli Kulp: 

Very nice. Very nice. Yeah. He's in the pantheon of chefs when it comes to New York city, for sure. And you mentioned the Kunz spoon earlier, this podcast is built for young culinarians who are, you know, that really seek out some guidance and some stories and, you know, journeys of other chefs. And I don't know how popular the Kunz spoon is these days and the newest younger generation, but there's nothing better than having a Kunz spoon in your hand when you're cooking.


It is by far the most universal tool in fine dining that has ever been invented. I'd say a spoon is not new. A spoon was like one of the first utensils ever. But the way that this spoon is designed and the weight of it and, and the balance of it and once you have one for plating, you're like, you'll never go back.

[00:30:52] Josh Sharkey: 

I agree. It is, it's, and it's not used just as a spoon, uh, because the weight is such that you can use it for other things. Oh my God. So many things. But it's designed. You know, with the, the, the tip of it being curved enough that you can get to the edge of it, all the pans, and it's perfect for Arizang.


It's also perfect for, I mean, there's so many things that it's good for. We, we have stockpiles of them at meez. There's, we have a little meez thing that we, that we do. And we, and we, we often like their gifts that we give to customers. They're great gifts. They really are. Yeah, and, um, in, it's in the app, this is a whole unit of measure conversion database that you get as you're writing.


So you can use any unit you want and it'll convert. And there's a, you can use one coon spoon. A measurement. It's actually a measurement in there. Yeah, and there's a small coon spoon as well. But by the way, the large coon spoon is 22 milliliters. So you, you know, you're gonna get that. But yeah, it's, it's, I agree.


It is hands down the best spoon. They make a mini version of it. They make a slotted version of it. They have like a gold version and there's a lot of different versions. And I think Jimmy, his son is working on some new, new things as well. Oh, cool. Cool. I don't remember some, some other spoon, but, um, but yeah, I'd say it's a great spoon.


[00:32:01] Eli Kulp: 

Very nice. Very nice. Um, so then. Your time at Cafe Grey led you to your next adventure, which was a bit of a departure from fine dining. Uh, talk a little bit about your first foray into entrepreneurship and what that was for you as a young, young cook. 

[00:32:19] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, yeah. So a buddy of mine who I cook with at Tabla named Brandon, um, Gillis, um, And I, we had started like a side company, you know, all of us have like these little side companies as cooks because we need money.


We had this like catering company called Clove and uh, we were working together. 

[00:32:38] Eli Kulp: I had one as well. I bet. Yeah, I do private dinners out in the Hamptons and stuff all the time. 

[00:32:42] Josh Sharkey: 

Yup, that's exactly right. You had to, you had to. You know, Hamptons or Greenwich. And so we were working together and we lived like right next to each other in, in, in Park Slope.


And I think Brandon was like the catalyst for the idea of like, let's do, a fast, casual restaurant. We lived in Park Slope and there was like a, it was a desert winter as it related to like just accessible food that was quick, easy, and delicious. And this was before Shake Shack or anything like that. So the concept was sort of a sustainable approach to American fast food or like an artisan approach.


So we were using all the techniques. that we knew from, you know, from cooking and all the farmers and things that we were working with to create basically like a hot dog concept called bark. There's a combination of his name and mine. Everybody called him B. So it'd be in my last name, shark. People call me shark.


So bark, bark, bark, hot dogs opened to a lot of like acclaim and we did really well. Um, Candidly, my thought was I would open it, get it running, and then step away. It ended up happening the opposite, where Brandon stepped away. So, I was a bit bummed that I, that I had left the fine dining world, and that it was becoming farther and farther away from me.


Um, and I also was getting more separated from that, from the industry. Right. Like, and Floyd, by the way, I could tell he, like, he was, like, What are you doing, man? What? You're a bad cook. What are you doing? Oh, God. 

[00:33:57] Eli Kulp: 

Disappointed father?

[00:33:58] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, I mean, it turns out, you know, I spoke with Barca after Floyd's passing about it a lot, and we've had some closure, and I think it's, it's good.


Yeah, I was, I was definitely like, it was a tough time, even though it was a good time. You know, it was just dichotomy of like, uh, I was I'm excited that I had this business that was doing well and also upset with myself that I wasn't doing this thing that I had spent the last, you know, 12, 15 years doing.

[00:34:19] Eli Kulp: 

Well, in some ways you were using some of that knowledge, right? But I imagine that only goes so far when you're talking about a hot dog, artisanal hot dog concept. 

[00:34:30] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, and I think also it was a learning lesson for me of, Entrepreneurship in that like sure. Yeah, we just wanted a really good product. That's all that mattered Like we wanted the best hot dog in America We wanted to approach everything like if we're gonna make it baked beans We're gonna use the heirloom Jacob's cattle baked bean from Maine and we're gonna make sure that like it's slow cooked and we're gonna use these Ham hocks from this plate like it was all And it was really good and, and a pretty affordable price, especially like, you know, relative to what people charge today.


But back then it was very novel. Like the idea of using great products and a hot dog that didn't cost 99 cents and using all biodegradable products. It was, um, it was novel. And, you know, in my youth, I was 28 when I opened it. It was like, people don't get it. What's the, what's their problem. And the learning lesson for me, like moving forward from that was it doesn't matter how good a product is.


You have to tell a story and you have to like bring people in and, and help them, you know, be a part of, of why you believe it's good. And so that was, that was a really, really good learning lesson for me of, um, it is moving forward. So I left Bark and ended up partnering with this restaurant called Aurify Brands.


Um, and the. The impetus was really like, I wanted to build Me's. I was really excited about building meez, which I'm sure we'll talk about. And, and I knew I needed, I mean, just honestly, I knew I needed a lot of money to build it because I knew that the Delta between what existed, meaning Google Sheets, Google Docs, what we use, Word docs, you know, what we use to write recipes, Evernote, you know, the Delta between what existed and what I wanted to build was great enough.


That the MVP, like the minimum viable product that I wanted to put out wasn't, it wasn't enough for it to just be kind of like, really, really, really basic. Um, so I needed enough cash that I could build it the right way, um, and spend the time to build it. Right. Um, so I partnered with this restaurant group and basically we, you know, we said like, I'll come help scale this business with you.


And if you help fund, um, meez, so that's what we did. I ended up working there longer than I would have expected and ended up becoming the chief operating officer of the business. We went from like, You know, I think like 14 locations, uh, over a hundred or so, you know, we opened up six more brands and, um, acquired La Ponca TDN and Maison Kaiser and, um, had some fine dining.


It's a fast casual. We own the rights to Five Guys. It was really big business. And so it was very helpful in that I was able to sort of build these. Within the ecosystem of that restaurant. Right, 

[00:36:50] Eli Kulp: 

That sounds like that's your, your wheelhouse, right? That's your, those are your people right there that you're trying to capture.

[00:36:55] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, well it was good because we wanted to capture, we knew, like I, I knew fine dining, I knew that world. So I knew how to build something that would work for, for that. And I needed to learn how does fast casual, how does QSR, how does that work at scale? And so it was, it was a huge learning ground. QSR, what does that mean?


QSR is quick service. Ironically, we don't actually service, like, we don't really actually work with a lot of quick service restaurants. Right. So fast casual. So fast casual is like, think Sweetgreen or Naya or, you know, Mamont. Cava. Cava, exactly. Yeah. So full service and fast casual is kind of our sweet spot at meez.


And, um, so just a lot of learning lessons there of like, what are the pain points independent of just. What I wanted to build was the core of the platform, which had nothing to do with that. It was really just, I want the greatest recipe tool in the world. It's like, that's what I want.

[00:37:46] Eli Kulp: 

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So building the greatest recipe tool in the world was your, your plan from the get go. What was the impetus of this plan, though? What was it that made you think, Okay, I want to do this because X, Y, or Z? 

[00:39:33] Josh Sharkey: 

Well, the, the, like, the original idea was much more basic, and it happened 20 some odd years ago. I was working for Floyd, actually, but in the mornings, I worked for, uh, Mario Batali had this, like, uh, salumi shop.

[00:39:47] Josh Sharkey: 

In Union Square in New York City, and this guy Dan Latham ran it, and in the mornings I'd work for free making salumi with them, you know, prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, lomo, you know, everything you can think of, and I had this notebook of all the recipes, and when I say recipes, I mean like temperature, time, humidity, like, um, you know, every, like, hot fuel, yeah, all that, all that stuff, and um, as well as like, of course, like, we all had these notebooks, I had all my ideas and things, and, It was one of my notebooks and um, and then on my days off, I'd work six days, but oftentimes I'm a 20 year old kid, I I would go stage into the restaurant just for fun.


And so, at the time, there's this place called Veritas that, um, Scott Bryant was the chef, and I was like, I want to see what they're doing. So I went and staged there, and I lost the friggin notebook. Um, and You lost it at Veritas. Yeah, I don't know what happened to it, but I just somehow, I lost it there.


And, um, and I was like, oh my god, I'm never losing a recipe again. I want to put everything, I want to digitize everything. So originally it was just like, I want to digitize all my recipes. Okay, okay. That was Back then it wasn't even Evernote, you know, let alone, yeah, 

[00:40:51] Eli Kulp: 

You didn't have too many options. 

[00:40:53] Josh Sharkey: 

But then fast forward through like being a chef in more places, starting to be a manager of, of, of cooks and starting to run a restaurant, being starting to be an entrepreneur. Right. I was like, Oh my God, there's way more to this. And, um, all the spreadsheets that we have of writing recipes and writing the different.


Like scales at different batch sizes and having to use different cells and all the other, like the time it takes to like, where do you put pictures? And, um, I want to share this, but I don't want you to see that. Like it was just. It sucked. And, and, um, you know, I started looking around to see if what existed and, and still to this day, it's all just financial software that happens to have some sort of component.


That's like an invoice of the recipe. I see. And, um, and more so I was like, just pissed. Like what, like we're, we're a pretty big group of like, we're, you know, we're a pretty big industry. We're a craft. There's designers, there's architects, there's, there's, there's all these crafts that have tools for them, you know, there's developers, they have GitHub and architects have AutoCAD.


It's like, why don't we have our thing? And I was just mad. And being me, I was like, well, then I guess if it doesn't exist, I guess I'll, I mean, I'll try to build it. And 

[00:42:02] Eli Kulp: 

I mean, you have a culinary degree, might as well become a tech guy too. 

[00:42:05] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. So I mean, it was a huge, obviously a huge uphill learning curve to

understand technology and I, you know, it's a, it's almost like, I don't think it's disenfranchising, but it's, it's, it's tough because with technology things just move slower no matter what, you know, in a, in a kitchen, you're like, I have an idea. I want to cure kohlrabi and then I want to pickle it. And then I want to turn the grill.


I can do that tomorrow, you know, um, or in like a week, but, uh, it doesn't affect anything else. I don't really change anything, but like with software, especially once you start creating more complex system, it gets longer and longer. It takes to like deploy things and to make things because, and to innovate because they affect so many other parts of the, of the software.


And you don't build them. Like I'm not, I'm not the developers, right. And you have a developer team and they're not like on a whim, just like, you know, building a new thing. I want a million other things in the app. And, and they all have to happen on a, on a timeline. Um, so that part was a wake up moment for me.


There's a really cool book called, uh, um, Mythical Man Month that, um, I actually, I think anybody would give it a call man month. Yeah. Yeah. It talks about the, why it takes so long to build software and why it's, um, exponential. Um, effort, not a, you know, not, not a linear, meaning like if I want one thing and then I want another thing, it doesn't, it's not one plus one.


Um, it's usually like if I want one thing and then I want two more things, it's like to the third power. Then if I want another thing, it's to the third, but it, it, it takes longer. So, um, among other lessons, but it's a really good book in general. 

[00:43:40] Eli Kulp: 

So then you have this idea and you're like, okay, I'm going to get some developers on board at the same time. You just got to be raising capital, which you were doing with the, with the work, with the company that you were at. And then. When did you launch this officially? Um, and how long has it been around? 

[00:44:00] Josh Sharkey: 

So we launched the product to kitchens officially the beginning of January, 2021. We were supposed to launch in 2020, um, like right around April.


Um, but you know, as I'm sure everybody knows pandemic hit and. And I was like, I'm not going to try to sell a tool to kitchens right now, right? So we pivoted and I told my developers to stop what they're doing, build some, some like consumer version of meez on top of what we have with the professional version.


And basically we just gave the app away to chefs. And created this thing called recipes relief for the first six months. Um, and said, put your recipes in. And we created a, like an e com platform for them to sell their recipes and recipe books to the public. And a hundred percent of the proceeds went to the chefs and their businesses.


And we helped them raise tens of thousands of dollars and some really cool chefs putting recipes out. And, um, and so that's what we did before we launched. It was, um, it's also really helpful in terms of getting feedback. Sure. Yeah, of course. I probably could have just stuck with that, to be honest with you, but, um, part of the hypothesis around what I'm doing is that I actually, first and foremost, want to make sure every chef in the world loves this as a tool to store your recipe.


So we decided like, let's put that on the shelf for now. We'll probably come back to it, but let's just focus on building this recipe platform for, for, you know, for food professionals. And so we launched in 2020. 21, basically January 2021 is when we were like officially live. 

[00:45:30] Eli Kulp: 

So you're just over two years old then? Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Incredible. And what has been the success story so far? What have you really noticed that you really hit right out of the gate? And then also what are some of the, the challenges that you've come across as you've had to go through the last couple of years? 

[00:45:48] Josh Sharkey: 

Because we had, we were in beta for quite a while. We learned a lot. And candidly, when we launched. It grew really fast because this didn't exist. And so it didn't take much to like, we don't, we still, to this day, don't have a sales team. We're just starting to create the semblance of this, but a chef would just see the product and say, Oh my God, you know, where the heck has this been for the last 20 years?


And so we just, you know, you know, sign them up and, and, um, and there was still a lot of work to do with the product. There always is. Um, but it, but it was, you know, it was something that just didn't exist. And, you know, and I think that. Something that we try to get through with the tool and with our service, like most of our team that aren't developers are chefs or sort of mixologists or bakers or something.


And, um, I think the, the, the goal, you know, independent of like the product being really good is that like when you touch it or feel it, or you, when you talk to somebody in a team, it's like very clear that you're talking to someone that, that is part of your world and that you're like, this was made for you.


Right. And I think that's what has helped us sort of, you know, grow really quickly. Nice. I think the success was just the adoption rate, you know, from the beginning. And we got some really incredible chefs on board right away that just saw the tool. And, um, and, you know, like the Jose Andres group. 


They've been with us since, uh, for a long time. And many, many similar restaurants that, you know, a lot of restaurants, you, you, You can think of, I'm sure they're, they're probably, um, using the tool. So I think the, the, the initial success was just the adoption rate and, um, and, and the ability to, to, to grow pretty quickly.


I think some of the downsides, the things that were like tougher were, I think I. underestimated the intuitiveness that I needed to create in terms of like recipe costing. The tool is built to be really, really flexible. So it's like, it probably it's in my mind, it's like the easiest place to get a recipe cost in the world for a recipe.


But there's a lot of assumptions I made about like, yeah, you'll just know that you can do this and you'll know that you can change this and you'll know that it was all because I didn't want to like muddy the app with like. All these things that told you stuff. I just want you to just have this clean thing.


And, um, so that was a learning lesson of like, Hey, you got to like, let people know, cause they might just never know that all these things are possible. And it's still something that we're, that we're, 

[00:48:02] Eli Kulp: 

There's so many different programs out there, software programs out there that, that your restaurant can get, whether that's sales reporting, labor reporting, you know, all of these different areas and so often restaurants only barely scratch the surface of what they can do.


So I imagine, you know, with chefs, we're not a bunch of like tech nerds all the time. We're just like, okay, how does this fit my life right now? How can it improve my life right now? And what can I do without spending too much time in learning something? So I, I see what you're saying, but then again, if they don't know that it can do that, how are they going to get the full experience from it?

[00:48:44] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, exactly. I don't. I don't even necessarily think that chefs, there's, we get a bad rap is like, we're not tech savvy. I think it's just that we don't have a lot of time. So we're gonna look at something for 30 seconds. And if we get it, then we'll do something with it. And if we can't, we move on because we don't have time to like, you know, so that's honestly, that's like 70 percent of what we do is continually try to make it as easy as we can to just start using the tool.


Cause it's, by the way, it's free. It's absolutely free, right? Yeah, the, there's obviously a lot of stuff you can pay for, but storing your recipes, organizing them, scaling them, you know, converting units, like, um, sharing them, that's all free.

[00:49:23] Eli Kulp: 

So any cook out, any cook out there listening, any sous chef, uh, that just wants to keep your recipes, your ideas, everything in one place that, and you're not going to lose your notebook someday. I mean, meez is for them.

[00:49:39] Josh Sharkey: 

And I did it on purpose because I wanted to like everybody that was me 20 years ago or 10 years ago, whatever it was like to just not have that problem ever again. And it's just a place where you can put everything. And then the cool thing is one again, because adoption is so important. A lot of the tech is around how easily you can get your recipes.


And so you can take a Word doc, a PDF spreadsheet, like anything, PowerPoint. And there's really cool tech that like parses all that out so that it, it puts it into meez. The recipe looks like what you would actually use in a, you know, in a kitchen, but it's structured so you can scale it and convert it and all that. Add your videos into every step or pictures. 

[00:50:16] Eli Kulp: 

So you can do video, picture, all that.

[00:50:16] Josh Sharkey: 

Every, yeah, every step can have its own picture. You can look like this sort of Instagram style, like, you know, slideshow, but, um, but that's all free. And the point of it is that like, you should, I mean, we work at culinary schools should just like, just take it.


It's yours for free. Like we, and you own the data, like do whatever you want, but you should have a place to store and organize and, you know, manage your recipes. It's built a lot like Google drive in terms of how to organize things. You can make different folders or books with comb, but like, just, just use it.


And then when you. Do you want to do more with it? If you want to integrate with purchasing, if you want to like train your team, if you want to like, you know, integrate with accounting or, you know, inventory, whatever you can, you can do all that. And, and yeah, that stuff's. For now, is, you, you, you pay for, even though it's pretty inexpensive.


But the idea is that like every cook in the world should just have, and every cook mixologist, just use the free thing. You can just put all your stuff there. It's like, you know, why have everything in a Google Drive? It's really for any kind of random document. Right. Put it in like a, a recipe drive. 

[00:51:14] Eli Kulp: 

I, I imagine you have an app, right? So it all lives right there in the app on your phone? 

[00:51:19] Josh Sharkey: 

You can use on a phone. Tablet, computer, um, any, any device, yeah, you can, you can share, I share recipes back and forth all the time. You can share a whole recipe book. So I have, I also have like personally just like all these recipe books from Tabla or, or, or, um, or just like all my cocktails or all my desserts and I can just share access to the book with people so that like every time I add a recipe, um, so even just like family and stuff, I put like.

[00:51:43] Josh Sharkey: 

All that stuff in there. Mm-Hmm. . And then my, so my mom doesn't have to text me every time she , you know, has a question. My recipe, 

[00:51:49] Eli Kulp: 

I got a bunch of avocados, what do I do with them? 

[00:51:52] Josh Sharkey: 

Oh my God. You know, it's like my mom does the same stuff. A, it's like, mom, you don't ever call call. Although now with the grand, with the grandkids, she calls, but it's like, uh, I get a call when I when she needs to know how to make something. I love you mom.

[00:52:06] Eli Kulp: 

Yeah, no doubt about it.


What's up guys? Do you believe in miracles? Because if you do, you're going to love what I have to say next. A few weeks back, I was invited to the Drexel Food Lab where they were testing a new piece of equipment they recently received called the Unox Speed Pro. From the outside, there wasn't anything really that stood out to me about this oven that was gonna like, you know, blow my mind.


Had a nice little high tech LED panel, but that was about it. However, because I already witnessed the insane capabilities of the Unox Iberio and the Unox Combi Oven, which they also have at Drexel, I knew this was going to be at least interesting. So to make a long story short, Joel Prasek, who's the regional chef at Unox, was going to demonstrate exactly how this somewhat ordinary looking tabletop oven would be able to cook a sheet of biscuits.


In a sheet of chocolate chip cookies, right? Simple. Eh. Okay. As he explains a little bit about this oven, he goes ahead and nonchalantly puts these two half sheet pan sized trays in the oven and closes the door. We continue chatting about the groundbreaking technology, uh, they call it adaptive technology, and how this oven understands exactly what's in it.


The volume of product, humidity, the temperature, yada, yada, yada, technology stuff. I don't really care about that. I just want to see what the product is. Right. And I'm not even kidding you. Four and a half minutes later, these beautiful biscuits and these beautiful chocolate chip cookies come out of the oven, ready to eat.


Four and a half minutes. Brown, crispy, hot, everything you'd want, right? Unbelievable. My brain couldn't register it. And here's the kicker. This was their quote unquote oven setting. This didn't even include the blending of the high convection air with the microwaves which will reheat sandwiches, breads, pastries, whatever you put in that thing.


Protein, meat, steak, fish, whatever it is. In under a minute. I don't have enough time to get into all the details to make this technology perform these magic tricks in front of my eyes, but we can do is check them out at unox. com, U N O X. com, or get ahold of Matt McKinney. Uh, he'll explain this way better than I can.


You can call him at 215 514 8310. He'll probably get you up to the Drexel Food Lab if you're local. If not, give him a call anyways. He can explain it and get you set up wherever you are across the country. He's a really good dude and he'll make sure you're good to go. You can also just check out the show notes and all the information will be in the notes. So let's get back to the show.

[00:54:32] Eli Kulp: 

Well that's great man. So what You said, you said it's free for anyone who just wants to use it for their own personal, um, recipe storage, uh, picture storage, all that. So what are the different tiers that people can buy? Uh, maybe you have a large restaurant group or maybe just have a single restaurant, what's available to them to use?

[00:54:53] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, absolutely. So like I said, to organize all your recipes to, you know, scale them by changing an ingredient or converting units of measure, all the units measured are built in, all the ingredient data is built in.

[00:55:02] Eli Kulp: 

You also have yield, right? So cook yields on things as well. 

[00:55:06] Josh Sharkey: 

Everything. So like if you, if you, you don't have to figure any of this stuff out. So if you put a half a cup of diced carrot and 300 grams of avocado and a teaspoon of kosher salt, like we have thousands of ingredients already built in with all the actions of like what you do to them. So we know how much. You lost when you peel the carrot and dice it. And we know how much a cup of that weighs.


And we know how much a teaspoon of kosher salt that's diamond crystal versus Morton's versus it's all just built in. And we, we continually add to it as well as the allergens. 

[00:55:34] Eli Kulp: 

Do you guys actually work out these yields in a kitchen and you apply them to your. Uh, platform. 

[00:55:41] Josh Sharkey: 

Yep. Yeah. Yeah. And so before we launched, you know, for like four or five years, we, I had chefs and dieticians that were just testing.


So we would get cases of, of garlic, right? The whole, the peeled or the whole, and we would weigh a hundred pieces of garlic hundreds of times over the course of years. And we would peel hundreds of heads of garlic. And what's the average garlic weight? How much you lose on average when you peel the garlic.


And, um, and when you peel a carrot or dice a carrot. Cause the book of yields, first of all, doesn't have it. Most of this doesn't exist there. And a lot of it's kind of, I'm not sure how accurate it is. And there's other like things online that have some of this, but it just was, it didn't have enough and it wasn't nearly as accurate.


So we just did it all ourselves. And we continually add to it. And we also continually add more allergens and things. So, and all that's. You know, you can just get all those yields that's just built into the product. And, um, for free, that's free. Organizing recipes is free. You can have unlimited recipes in there.


You can, you know, add all the limited videos and images and things like that. Um, you can, you know, share, um, unlimited recipes. You can publish them to the web in a business. It starts really cheap too. So you can just, for 25 bucks a month, you can get all your costs. You can see, like, put in all your costs and you can add as many, like, team viewers as you want.

[00:56:58] Eli Kulp: 

So for example, you just take your, your invoices and you put your, you know, milk price, your butter price, all of that you're paying. Yeah, so. And then you can. When you create a recipe, it'll take those units of measure compared to the price of the product. It'll cost out your recipe for you. Is that the idea?

[00:57:17] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. So for the 25 bucks a month, you can, you'll write in those costs. Sure. If you want though, you can also, um, upgrade to get invoice processing, uh, so that you can either snap pictures of invoices if you're at the farmer's market, or if a vendor doesn't have EDI, or we can just directly. You know, connect to your vendor, or if you have another inventory system, you can connect to that as well.


And it's just a real time feed every day of all your products that come in. And so every time you update the cost of avocado, it updates across every recipe that uses avocado. And again, you buy an avocado is like a 48 count case of Hass avocado, but you're probably using 200 grams in a recipe. And it converts automatically for you.


So you don't have to do that math or use a cup of diced avocado. 

[00:58:04] Eli Kulp: 

That's incredible. So now that's part of the invoice processing is when you snap a picture, you upload it. Is AI reading that invoice or is that somebody somewhere else?

[00:58:14] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. So it's a combination of OCR technology, just. Optical character recognition. So it basically like reads, digitizes the text, coupled with like ML coupled with people because the, no matter what, there's a, there's a layer of people that I like to, that I think is important to put on there because there's, you just never get it all. And I always hated having invoices come in with other sort of like invoice processing that was like, dude, like. This is clearly not right. 

[00:58:44] Eli Kulp: 

So, you know, there's three human element just kind of gives it a look over and make sure that everything is checking out properly. 

[00:58:49] Josh Sharkey: 

Yep. And then you can add on multiple locations. You can add on, you can connect to accounting. You can, we have, we have like services as well, like, you know, auditing and, you know, consulting services.


We're launching a really cool new product. Um, to help you engineer your entire menu. Oh, really? What's that? Um, imminently. I don't, I don't know how much I should talk about it, but okay. Really? 

[00:59:08] Eli Kulp: 

Like probably another couple, few weeks before this comes out, but yeah, we don't talk about it right now.

[00:59:15] Josh Sharkey: 

It's um, I think for me, um, the ability to, first of all, I hate reports because I'm a big believer in Just in time information not just in case and I think again, like, you know, look financial like reporting systems ERPs. They're important, you know, but you know, they're all after the fact it's after the thing happened and you lost money no matter what. So you have to like, you have to sell those products. You have to buy those things.


Um, in order to, um, learn that you had a cost that was wrong or that was too high or the profit wasn't this and, and also that's completely independent of the culinary process, right? It's just like, you know, a purchasing and a reporting and a data analysis exercise, which most of them we don't even have the time for, right?


So I wanted to build a product that. In real time, you can look at your menu, you can write a menu. It doesn't matter if you sold it or not. And you can start to understand, you know, what, where are the outliers? What should I tweak here? And what is my total menu profit? What is my overall food costs and how do I lower that?


You know, because no matter what, like in a restaurant. Or any, any food business, you can, people can tell you all day long, we're going to help you reduce waste and we're going to optimize your this and optimize your that. And it's like, yeah, maybe, but most of the time you're a good operator or you're not a good operator.


And I can't control if, if there isn't systems in place, there are things you can control with consistency and continuity of how people make things, make it the right way. And that you're clear about like what to do. And I think that's important, but ultimately. Best way to actually like, you know, improve your margins is to lower your food cost percent of your menu because if you have like a 25 percent food cost and you can lower it to 24 percent by tweaking your menu without like impacting flavor and all that stuff, which you can do, you just saved 1 percent no matter what you do, even if you waste the same amount, you just say 1%.


So for every million bucks, you know, obviously, you know, that's That's it. 10 grand. That's what we're, that's what we're building now among, obviously there's a bunch of other cool stuff with menus to just like be able to share with your servers and things, so.

[01:01:24] Eli Kulp: 

Yeah. I assume, you know, now that you've, you've got meez under your belt, you're seeing other opportunities out there where you can help bolster your platform a little bit more to give more services to the potential clients.


So that's really great. That's really great. What do you think the general benefits that people are seeing the most out of using your product after, you know, having it out in the market for a little over two years? 

[01:01:53] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. I think honestly, like from an ROI perspective, it's like very clearly time and money. So like the amount of time that you save being able to get all your recipe content, you know, built out and structured and calculated without having to do all that work. I mean, we're talking about like. Person's job in some organizations and, uh, you know, hours and hours, you know, of other person's job and when it's part of someone else's job, you know, and also just like the ability to onboard a new, you know, team member, um, where do we do like these case studies and like on average, we see like, like literally like a 70 percent reduction in how long it takes to onboard a team member because you can.


You can just give them, it's like, here's the recipe book for this. Here's exactly how to make everything. Here's a step by step. Um, so there's a lot of that. The recipe engineering piece helps them engineer the recipe. Just like I was talking about engineering the menus. And so on average, it was like, you, you know, we see like two to 3%, you know, reduction in, in like the ability to like reduce your food costs.


Sure. Yeah. So it's like labor and food savings are like, from a business standpoint, what we see the most of, I'll be honest with you. Yeah. That stuff is, it's important and and and and it's important for us as we're growing obviously to be able to communicate that and customers do sort of see that. The intangible thing that I think we see the most is just like when they actually start to use these recipes in the kitchen.


Just, you know, being able to like scale and convert and see this recipe in a way that's like this living, breathing version of what you were used to in a recipe book. It's harder to quantify, um, because it's just this experience that once you have it, you're like, you kind of don't want to go back. 

[01:03:31] Eli Kulp: 

That's one of the things. Uh, once. Once you get a taste of it and you realize what you've been doing for so long is slow and arduous, then, uh, this is going to make it, uh, that much more efficient in your kitchen. And, you know, with today, you know, labor costs is the number one killer in our industry right now.


Food is up there as well, but, you know, labor because training, lack of skilled labor, uh, lack of people who want to be there. Uh, you know, sous chefs who shouldn't be sous chefs because they're not ready for it. And here now you can, as long as you put good data in, you can have a tool that kind of takes care of some of those issues.

[01:04:12] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, there's a ton of labor you save and not just like labor savings, but the ability to memorialize how and why you do everything in a way that's digestible so that you don't need superstars at every station. You know, you don't need people that have had 10 years of experience or five years of experience or two years of experience in order to work the hot app station in order to work that prep station, because like you can just dial in exactly what needs to happen. And if you update something, everybody's updated in real time. 

[01:04:41] Eli Kulp: 

So if I hire, let's say I hired Tim, right. And he's going to be my new Entremet, am I able to just send him an email with a link? To the recipe booklet for that station. And then he just pulls up the recipes and techniques and photos and videos?

[01:04:58] Josh Sharkey: 

Yep. Yeah. You add on Tim and you can decide, like, if you have, if you have, let's just say you have like this high street, this fork, and maybe you've got an R&D kitchen as well, and you're like, I want Tim to have, I want him to be able to view everything, right? Cause maybe I don't want him to view R&D, the R&D kitchen.


And I want him to edit access to. High Street because, um, he's a, uh, CDC there, Chef Cuisine, so I wanted to create specials, but only if you accessed everything else. Maybe you can see cost here. So you can add them on and they will get access to whatever you want them to see. You can quickly remove the access.

[01:05:29] Josh Sharkey: 

And by the way, when you do that, Tim now has a free version of meez to take with him for life too. Cause he gets his own, his own free version of the app as well. So yeah, you can just add your team on pretty quickly and remove them when you need to. 

[01:05:40] Eli Kulp:

Very cool. Very cool. Do you feel that you are getting the same fulfillment out of Your job now that you were in the kitchen, like, did it, did it kind of replace that passion that you had for cooking?

[01:05:58] Josh Sharkey: 

It's so interesting, like, the question, because, one, I ask myself so often, like, why do I do what I do, and, um, why do I keep starting new companies, and why did I cook, and, um, I, sometimes I, I would worry, um, that I'm cooking, Because I want to, this sort of, you know, external gratification of like, I make delicious food.


Right. I see someone's face and they, and they, um, you know, because they're happy, I'm happy. But, you know, with cooking, I love to cook more than probably anything else in the world. And, and, and what I love most is like, you know, being deep in the weeds of like, I have this long prep list of things I'm gonna make.


Right. And I'm seasoning this sauce, and this thing is braising in the oven, and like, that feeling is incredible for me. And, um, And I get the same feeling digging into this product because there's so much for us to build. And we're constantly sort of improving and there's like literally millions of things to improve.


And we get feedback from chefs, a lot of it of what to, you know, update or improve or change. And, um, so there's like this constant iteration that's very similar to like cooking. And the other side is like, I get the feedback from chefs of like, Oh my God, where has this been for? But, um, I, I'll be honest, I miss


Cooking in kitchens, um, because I love it so much, but I love, um, building these, I think more than anything I've ever done. Right on. It's just so satisfying to know that, like, we can have this impact on the whole industry, not just, like, a small street or community. Right. Yeah, 

[01:07:33] Eli Kulp: 

Yeah, it's, it's, it's large change and you're at the, at the forefront of it and that's, that's really exciting. Um, I appreciate that. What else do people need to know about meez?

[01:07:43] Josh Sharkey:

Um, well, what I would say is, especially for your audience, uh, go start for free and we are just getting started. We have so much more to do and we're doing it with. The industry. So the more feedback we get, the better. So if you just go to

[01:08:02] Josh Sharkey: 

M E E Z and, um, I just start for free or you can reach out to us and, and, um, We can, you know, walk you through, like, the, the full breadth of the platform. Um, but ultimately, I think what I would, what I think is important to know is that the goal here is to create the universal recipe medium, right?


Okay. A place where every food professional in the world, whether you're a chef or a mixologist, or a baker, or you cook in kitchens, you make recipes for, you know, a living, that you have a place where you can store and organize and work with your recipes for free, for life. And I want that to be the universal language, uh, that then you can then take that and do lots of other things with.


Um, and so we only accomplish that if everybody, you know, um, it's a part of it. 

[01:08:53] Eli Kulp: 

So, that's great, man. That's great. And I imagine like you say worldwide, there's no borders to this thing because it's applicable around the globe. So that's, that's really exciting. I mean, talk about huge opportunity for you and an opportunity for you to have a massive impact on the industry as a whole.

So that's really cool. That's really cool.

[01:09:12] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, it's already in, I think like maybe 19, 20 countries and you can translate meez into like 120 some odd languages. 

[01:09:19] Eli Kulp: 

So pick, push a button and you got whatever language you want, right? 

[01:09:22] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. We still, we still work to do with currency and things to actually do it.

But in terms of like the recipe, you know, the recipe itself. Yeah. Nice, 

[01:09:30] Eli Kulp: 

Nice, nice. Listen, Josh, uh, it's been good getting to know you over the last couple of months and your product. I highly recommend it for anyone out there. Uh, you know, this was an opportunity. I felt that I could. Use this platform to showcase something that I believe in that I think is a real game changer for the industry.


And somebody who has your background, I think also just makes it that much more, um, trustworthy if that's, if that's the right, uh, word, because you. You know what it's like to be in the trenches in the fine dining world. And not that you're, not that this is just for, uh, fine dining restaurants, because that's not, uh, probably the contrary it's, you know, this is a tool for any restaurant out there, but the fact that you first and foremost fell in love with food in the industry and then, uh, did something like this.


I think that speaks volumes to, uh, the quality of work that, uh, you were taught, but also the quality of work that you're going to continue to do. So good stuff. 

[01:10:29] Josh Sharkey: 

Well, I appreciate that, man. That's really, really kind of you. And, uh, I know we had just talked, you know, a couple of weeks back, but it really has been incredible to get to know you and learn more about your story.


And, um, it's really inspiring. I, to be honest with you, it's built to, you know, it's been a few weeks now and I still like keep talking about it. Um, and, um, I left that last conversation really amped. So, um, Right on. So, yeah, 

[01:10:51] Eli Kulp: 

You have a podcast also, right? So, uh, me is podcast and you can, you talk to chefs all around the world and talk about what their needs are and how you can help them.


So it's good stuff. Yeah, absolutely. So Get the M E E Z dot com, uh, you can also look, uh, social media, of course, see what they're doing. And you can also follow Josh, uh, what's your Instagram, 

[01:11:18] Josh Sharkey: Josh? Um, it's @joshlsharkey. Josh L. Sharkey. Well, actually, there's 

[01:11:24] Eli Kulp: 

Is there a better, is there a better Instagram to follow?

[01:11:27] Josh Sharkey: 

I was going to say there's, no, that, that is, well, and meez has its own Instagram as well. Uh, but it's probably a lot of my kids and, and some stuff about the podcast, but. All right. We'll 

[01:11:36] Eli Kulp: 

We'll forget that one then. Unless you want to see Josh's.

[01:11:38] Josh Sharkey: 

No, it's still, I mean look, it's still, it's, uh, it's, it's, it's got a bunch of, of good meez podcast stuff, but @getmeez Is also the Instagram handled. 

[01:11:46] Eli Kulp: 

Cool. Very nice. Very nice. Very nice. All right. So, uh, I guess that's a wrap. So appreciate your time coming on chef radio and, uh, yeah, we'll be in touch and, uh, good luck with it. Continued success and look forward to seeing the next. Uh, generations of, of meez. 

[01:12:03] Josh Sharkey: Thanks Eli. I appreciate it, man.

[01:12:11] Eli Kulp:

All right. Have a great day. All right, everybody. That concludes this episode of the Chef Radio podcast. Thank you again for listening to these conversations and if you like what you've heard, please share it with a friend who might be able to gain some insight or you can post it on your social media and podcast. This will help others find us and will also help us grow the show, which is always appreciated.


Also, if you're a Philadelphia local or you just want to know what's going on in the food scene here, please give our other podcast, Delicious City Philly, a listen. So until next time, keep pushing yourself to be better and be kind to each other.