The meez Podcast

Chef Fiore Tedesco on His Journey Through Adversity to Culinary Triumph

April 16, 2024 Josh Sharkey Season 2 Episode 55
Chef Fiore Tedesco on His Journey Through Adversity to Culinary Triumph
The meez Podcast
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The meez Podcast
Chef Fiore Tedesco on His Journey Through Adversity to Culinary Triumph
Apr 16, 2024 Season 2 Episode 55
Josh Sharkey

#55. In this week's episode, we sit down with the remarkable Chef Fiore Tedesco, co-owner of the renowned L'Oca d'Oro in Austin and the visionary behind an eagerly anticipated new pizza venture, Bambino. Beyond his entrepreneurial spirit, Chef Fiore is a proud supporter of Good Work Austin, showcasing his commitment to community and culinary excellence.

Join us as Chef Fiore shares his extraordinary journey, marked by both hardship and triumph. From his early years influenced by a significant hearing impairment to navigating homelessness in New York's Washington Square Park, his path has been anything but ordinary. Yet, it's these very challenges that have sharpened his senses and shaped him into the acclaimed chef he is today.

With a rich background that spans the music and fashion industries, alongside mentorship from culinary giants like Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Fiore's story is a testament to resilience and passion. His transition to Austin opened a new chapter, allowing him to explore the soul of Italian cuisine, deeply rooted in his family's heritage.

This episode delves deep into the essence of struggle, resilience, and the art of cooking with soul. Fiore's insights into overcoming adversity, fostering resilience within his team, and imparting life's tough lessons to the next generation are both enlightening and inspiring.

Prepare to be moved by a conversation that's as profound as it is unexpected, filled with life lessons that extend far beyond the kitchen. Chef Fiore Tedesco's narrative is not just about culinary success; it's a compelling exploration of the human spirit's capacity to overcome and flourish.

Where to find Fiore Tedesco: 

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

In this episode, we cover:

(04:11) Reminiscing about Indie Chefs Event
(05:02) Fiore's movie, Severed Ways
(09:26) Fiore's diverse background as an artist and his bout of homelessness
(21:36) Fiore's experience growing up deaf
(29:07) Experiencing Suffering and how it can lead to strong resilliance
(35:46) Teaching resilience to your children
(47:20) Balancing technique in soul in Fiore's restaurant
(54:17) Fiore's new pizza joint
(1:06:53) What Fiore would do if he had limited resources


Just give the code "meezpod24" to your meez Services Manager for a 100% discount on our “Premium Recipe Upload Service- Hourly (coupon covers 4 hours. one time use only, must be a meez customer)

Show Notes Transcript

#55. In this week's episode, we sit down with the remarkable Chef Fiore Tedesco, co-owner of the renowned L'Oca d'Oro in Austin and the visionary behind an eagerly anticipated new pizza venture, Bambino. Beyond his entrepreneurial spirit, Chef Fiore is a proud supporter of Good Work Austin, showcasing his commitment to community and culinary excellence.

Join us as Chef Fiore shares his extraordinary journey, marked by both hardship and triumph. From his early years influenced by a significant hearing impairment to navigating homelessness in New York's Washington Square Park, his path has been anything but ordinary. Yet, it's these very challenges that have sharpened his senses and shaped him into the acclaimed chef he is today.

With a rich background that spans the music and fashion industries, alongside mentorship from culinary giants like Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Fiore's story is a testament to resilience and passion. His transition to Austin opened a new chapter, allowing him to explore the soul of Italian cuisine, deeply rooted in his family's heritage.

This episode delves deep into the essence of struggle, resilience, and the art of cooking with soul. Fiore's insights into overcoming adversity, fostering resilience within his team, and imparting life's tough lessons to the next generation are both enlightening and inspiring.

Prepare to be moved by a conversation that's as profound as it is unexpected, filled with life lessons that extend far beyond the kitchen. Chef Fiore Tedesco's narrative is not just about culinary success; it's a compelling exploration of the human spirit's capacity to overcome and flourish.

Where to find Fiore Tedesco: 

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

In this episode, we cover:

(04:11) Reminiscing about Indie Chefs Event
(05:02) Fiore's movie, Severed Ways
(09:26) Fiore's diverse background as an artist and his bout of homelessness
(21:36) Fiore's experience growing up deaf
(29:07) Experiencing Suffering and how it can lead to strong resilliance
(35:46) Teaching resilience to your children
(47:20) Balancing technique in soul in Fiore's restaurant
(54:17) Fiore's new pizza joint
(1:06:53) What Fiore would do if he had limited resources


Just give the code "meezpod24" to your meez Services Manager for a 100% discount on our “Premium Recipe Upload Service- Hourly (coupon covers 4 hours. one time use only, must be a meez customer)

[00:00:00] Josh Sharkey: 

You're listening to season two of The meez Podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, a culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, we're going to talk to high performers in the food business, everything from chefs to CEOs, technologists, writers, investors, and more about how they innovate and operate and how they consistently execute at a high level.


Day after day. And I would really love it if you could drop us a five star review anywhere that you listen to your podcast, that could be Apple, that could be Spotify, could be Google. I'm not picky anywhere, but I really appreciate the support. And as always, I hope you enjoy the show.


Our guest today is Chef Fiore Tedesco. Chef Fiore is the co-owner of L'Oca d'Oro in Austin, along with his business partner, Adam Orman. They're also involved with this really awesome organization called Good Work Austin, which you should check out. He is opening a new pizza joint that sounds pretty incredible as well.


And all around, he's just a pretty amazing chef and his background is also something that I did not know nearly as much about until we had this conversation. And wow, it was pretty incredible. I met Fiore a couple of years ago. We cooked together at this event for Indie Chefs. In Austin, and I mean, I knew right away, just really, really nice guy and also very talented fast forward, though, when we had this conversation on the podcast, man, there's so much I learned about his background, everything from produced a movie with a couple folks.


He also grew up with the first, I think, five or six years of his life, and that had a huge impact on. Well, not only just sort of a struggle that he dealt with for many years, but heightening other senses that later on, I think had a big impact on how he became the chef that he is today. A lot of other struggles.


He was homeless for several weeks, I think maybe even a couple of months, living in Washington Square Park in New York, was in the music industry and the fashion industry, and also worked for some really incredible chefs in New York, namely the Gramercy Tavern, Chef Michael Anthony. Shout out, Chef Mike.


Anyways, Fiore moved to Austin, opened up this spot. It's his sort of take on Italian cuisine. His grandparents are from Italy, and he grew up eating Italian cuisine. And this was sort of his opportunity to step away from so much of the technical piece of cooking and get more into the soul of cooking. And man, there was a lot of soul in today's conversation.


We went pretty deep into his background growing up. So some of the suffering that he went through and how it's impacted his life. And then sort of fast forward, talked a little bit about how do we actually start to instill some of that. idea of suffering into the next generation, whether that's our kids or our team, because if we're doing our job well, as people, the next generation should have a little bit easier of a time than the last generation.


I think that definitely is true in the kitchens, right? There's not nearly as many hours, you're not having shift pay, all these, you know, doubles on Sundays and among many other things, but there's still adversity. And part of what we were trying to sort of get to the bottom of is how do you instill that?


adversity organically, safely, respectfully, so that, you know, folks can learn and grow and build resilience. And we spent some time talking about that as it relates to his kids, as it relates to running a team and much more. Anyways, it was really, really incredible conversation, a curveball for me, but a good one.


And as always, I hope that you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.


Love to see you. I feel like the only time I met you was I was doing an indie chefs event and you were, and we went to your restaurant afterwards. It was like a party, right? That's right. Were you like doing something for the event or I think you, you specifically hosted the party for that event, right?  

[00:04:11] Fiore Tedesco: 

I hosted that party, which was like the first night it was before the other stuff started.


And then We we met there we were together It was either the next night or the night after at Foreign and Domestic. We did a dinner there. 

[00:04:28] Josh Sharkey: 

That's right. 

[00:04:28] Fiore Tedesco: 

Of course, you and Sergio were both there. 

[00:04:34] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, I remember. 

[00:04:36] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah, there were a bunch of cats there. I'm trying to think. Like, I don't believe Sarah or Nathan.


I don't know which one of them was there. Sarah was there. Phil Spier was there. 

[00:04:46] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Phillip was there. It was a good event, man. Anyways, I didn't mean to throw you on the spot for that, but it's good to catch up with you. Likewise. It's been quite a while, but I, because I remember specifically when we, when I met you, I had just learned about Good Work Austin, and I was like, I want to learn more about that, and then I didn't.


Oh, cool. Yeah. So I'm gonna learn today. So we'll talk about that. Nice. But if it's cool, before we get into, I'm gonna say, we're talking about a bunch about your background today, and Austin, and your restaurant, of course. What's, Severed Ways? I, when I was doing some research, my assistant sent me a bunch of stuff over, she sent me, she sent me a link to IMDB and I'm like, nah, that must be a different Fiore.


But, I don't think it is. I think that's it. No, it's the same guy. What is that? 

[00:05:28] Fiore Tedesco: 

It's a 10th century period piece that, A small group of us made was directed by a fellow named Tony Stone. It was his idea. And so it's a film that got released on via magnet pictures. And it was in like something like a dozen film festivals and one, several of them.


I was at a few of them kind of like standing ovation that like the L.A. Film Festival did talk back at and then we got, it got released via Magnet Films and we got a New York Times right up on the film. I co-wrote the film and co-starred in it. The credit, I, I have a, you know, I got a big fight with Tony.


I have a like story by credit because right before. He got into the final edits, he kind of erased all the text that I wrote and dubbed in gibberish. What? Yes. A kind of wild story, but the heart of it was, like, I was living. In the woods in Vermont for like three months out of the year for a couple of years, making this film with, with like four of my best friends and sort of working full time as a, as an artist.


And I was going on tour with my band in between shooting, and that was my life for a couple of years.

[00:06:44] Josh Sharkey: 

So this is before you got into food when you were still like, you were a drummer, right? Yeah. 

[00:06:51] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah. And I mean, I was into food. I'd cooked on and off and I grew up cooking. 

[00:06:58] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:06:59] Fiore Tedesco: 

I grew up cooking in hotels and restaurants, but was not serious about it.


Gotcha. You know, the difference of like, Oh, this thing's cool. And then the being dialed in and be like, Oh, I'm accountable to something and to someone. 

[00:07:13] Josh Sharkey: 

Why did you want to make this movie? And what, what was the impetus for making a movie? Cause you, you made one and then you, and then you stopped and, you know, got into food at some point or more into food, I'd say.

[00:07:22] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah. I mean, I was me at the time I was making all kinds of weird art projects. I was working on like a avant garde dance piece with my buddy, Claire. Who I was in a band with and I had my bands and then I had like my side project. I was committed to making just to just expressing all kinds of art. Tony was a fan of one of my bands and asked me to make this movie with him.


Asked me to write it with him. And then we thought that Andrew WK was going to be starring in it. And then he pulled out last minute. And so I ended up acting in it, Tony and I ended up being the lead actors and there's a bunch of real actors in the film as well. 

[00:08:10] Josh Sharkey: 

How did that feel acting in a movie? 

[00:08:14] Fiore Tedesco: 

I loved it. I was all in. I was like super committed to the process, super committed to the whole thing for the couple years. I was really, um, all in, really serious about it. And I thought that that was where my, life was heading after finished that film and, you know, being at the film festivals and stuff, people are like, Oh, you're, uh, I thought I had some momentum as an actor and start getting auditions for these kind of wild parts that went to real famous people.


Like real actors. And I didn't get those parts. And after several of those auditions, I was like, this is lame. I don't want to do this anymore. 

[00:08:50] Josh Sharkey: 

Culturally, it was just like not.

[00:08:54] Fiore Tedesco:

I, it was more like the process of auditioning and not getting parts. I'm like, I don't know how, I don't know how these people live lives like this.


We're just like, I'm asking for the right to work and just keep saying no. And then it reminded me of being like 19 and being in the city. And I was actually, then, I was trying to get jobs in real kitchens and getting told no then. When was that? You say the city, so New York City? Yeah, I moved, I moved to the city in 98.

[00:09:25] Josh Sharkey: 

Uh huh. 

[00:09:26] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah, I had a sort of a circuitous path to anything I worked in. I ended up hustling my way into the stylist assistant job on some retail fashion shoots, which turned into a design. I had a fancy design job at Victoria's secret for about two and a half years, designing interiors. Although like personally, I was a mess and.


Did not know I couldn't like balance a checkbook and there's just so much volatility. I was, there was a stretch where I was like working at Victoria's secret. And had to look the part and kind of was softly lying about my age and my education. I was 20 years old. My HR thought I was 28 and graduated from like Oberlin.


I think I had told them. Did you, did you randomly choose Oberlin as the plan? I was like, that sounds like a, an art school. They're not going to follow up with. But meanwhile, I was like, Homeless living in Washington Square Park. 

[00:10:32] Josh Sharkey: 

Oh my gosh. 

[00:10:33] Fiore Tedesco: 

Cause I, you know, I got kicked out of my apartment after a fight with my roommate.


Yeah, and I had like no money, had like no prospects, but I had this job. But where I was getting paid like every six weeks as a contractor. So I was just like, well, I have to show up and can you continue to work? And I have to look, look the park. So I would just sleep at the park and pack my leather pants and my silk shirt in a, in a bag and wake up and like shower in the sink at Washington Square Park and the guys that played chess over there, I knew a little bit and was friendly with, so they looked after me at night.

[00:11:11] Josh Sharkey: 

That's crazy. How long did you do that for? 

[00:11:13] Fiore Tedesco: 

I did that twice for like three weeks at a time. 

[00:11:17] Josh Sharkey: 

Wow. So, so how long was it before, what was the period in which you didn't have a place to stay? Like what year? No, just the time frame, like how many, how many weeks or months or days? 

[00:11:29] Fiore Tedesco: 

Oh, it'd be like three weeks, three weeks straight.


And then I, uh, got in a volatile situation, got out of again. And that was homeless for another couple of weeks. Wow. Yeah. So about five weeks total. Yeah. And I, I didn't, I didn't tell my family. I didn't, I was not talking to any of my friends really. Cause I was kind of, I was pretty lost and I felt like I was just lying all the time.


I was lying to my bosses about who I was lying to myself about this being a good idea, living the life that I was living. And just, I didn't know how to be accountable to myself or anything else, but was just trying to be accountable. Yeah. I was working through kind of a lot of the toughness and unresolved feelings and some of the trauma of like the, uh, some childhood stuff and trying to like work it out in real time and trying to figure out how to not be self destructive, you know, it took me a long time to get through a lot of that, but I had, uh, I had to face some real demons up front with that.

[00:12:31] Josh Sharkey: 

So, well, I'm. I have a million questions and I, this is, I didn't know so much of this. So first of all, thanks for sharing this with me. What drove you to work in the city, to stay in the city, to decide, like, I need to do this. And it's okay if I'm, if I don't have a place to stay, I need to do this. What was that voice that was, that was pushing you to do that?

[00:12:53] Fiore Tedesco: 

I was worried that where I came from, like my family unit was, Decaying had decayed. There's like a lot of, a lot of bad things had happened within my family and we're continuing to happen, the prospects. Within our family unit was not great at the time. It was not positive. And I wonder that was an upstate New York, three hours North, Troy, New York.


Yeah. Yeah. And I was really motivated leaving as a teenager to get out and make something in myself and I was determined that I was going to find myself in the city. I was going to find my people. I was going to find my voice, but I had felt kind of miscast growing up in the small town. Where I just got bullied pretty mercilessly through a lot of, through all of middle school.


And, uh, I was really determined to make it work. I had decided years before that I was gonna, I was gonna live in New York City and I was gonna be successful. And so I didn't know what any of that meant and I had to, I had, and I thought I had to grid it out. Um, I didn't have anybody to lean on or anybody to, you know, if anybody, I, I did have in the city, the one person I leaned on that was consistently showed up for me was Chef Lian Wang.


Oh, yeah. Well, why Lian? Lian and I grew up together. We went to the same high school. She was two years older than me, two grades ahead of me, and she worked at a. She bartended at a place called Dojo in the West Village. Um, like a, like a, uh, NYU like kind of college bar restaurant. 

[00:14:34] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:14:34] Fiore Tedesco: 

And it was around the corner from where I had been living.


And so I moved to the city and she was my friend and she would feed me, and she, she would, I would show up there and have eaten in a couple days and she would like, she would feed me and never charge me. She just took care of me like a big sister. Yeah, I don't know if she ever knew like the kind of how desperate I was at times going in there.

[00:14:58] Josh Sharkey: 

It's a tough thing to share that with someone too, you know, the depth at which things are, I think humans in general, right? We don't, we never really share how, the depth of which, of a depression or a darkness that we're in with most people, you know. 

[00:15:13] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah, sure, the idea of like showing up and being like, hey, how are you today?


Hey, I'm, I feel like I'm really at the edge of despair and I don't know if I'm gonna make it, but uh, What do you want to talk about? 

[00:15:24] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. So you went to New York in 98 and then how long until you, so you were obviously in this design career and then you started with music and the film before, it sounds like that was after that, but was there some before and after that?


And then what led you to kind of move from music to more into food and things like that? 

[00:15:45] Fiore Tedesco: 

I was playing drums for different bands. As soon as I moved to the city and trying to, I had, I dropped out of college in 98. I was at Hofstra university on a tennis scholarship. I played good tennis, um, but I tore my shoulder apart playing tennis and a long story short, I lost my, my scholarship moved to Florida to try to rehab my shoulder and get another scholarship.


And I just tore my shoulder again, moved to the city. Kind of on a lark to follow through with the earlier promise that I had made to myself. It had been until 2001. There's a really significant change to the early January of 2001. I got a contract. With LVMH with VEUVE Clicquot to work on the branding and design of the display packaging for Legrandam, the VEUVE Clicquot Le grande dam bottle.


If you remember that, that came out in 2001 and I designed this really beautiful display packaging. That I bid I, I bid for and, and somehow got the contract I was in way in over my head and the production of this display of this whole marketing program was, uh, it was a half million dollar contract.


Basically, I was 21 and working on this by myself where the, the other person that would have won this contract was, uh, various like well known Japanese architect with an office of 40 people, right?


It was wild that I won it. And then where the rubber met the road was it was hard getting this thing that I designed produced really beautifully.


It was a plexiglass, three plexiglass pieces that aligned and in slightly different colors that refracted a rainbow when natural light was shown on it. So in any display place that this was shining the bottle, as soon as natural light hit it, it was shining a rainbow back. It was a really cool effect.


That I learned how to do reading, you know, reading design magazines in my office where I was trying to decide why I had this. How I had this design job and how to justify it. So I got the contract and then September 11th happens. And that day we were supposed to be delivering 300 of these display pieces to the LVMH offices.


in Connecticut, where they're, where the president had flown over to look at these things that I had built. And then the packages didn't show up. You know, that was obviously a terrible, terrible day for everyone that was in New York city and then, and beyond. So the September 11th, 2001 twin towers happened.


I was in the middle of kind of this, just realizing early, early that, that morning that this job, this contract that I had was about to fall apart. Because the, the, the company that was building this piece I designed kind of shit the bed and didn't tell me and were lying about it. 

[00:18:50] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:18:51] Fiore Tedesco: 

And then the Twin Towers happens and then there's no communication with anybody several days.


We're just in, I lived on, on Bleecker Street. 

[00:19:00] Josh Sharkey: 

Where on Bleecker? On Bleecker and McDougal. Oh, I lived on Bleecker and Thompson then. We were neighbors almost.  

[00:19:07] Fiore Tedesco: 

And so over the next two weeks, I had stuck around the city trying to rescue this job, but I was also like, I was, I was traumatized, man. That was, that was a, that was a tough time.


And I didn't realize how damaging psychologically the effects of everything happened was, you know, I was on my, I was traumatized. Stood on, on the roof of my building and saw the second tower fall. And my cousin was in the building. He, he got out, spent the morning trying to find him, spent the next day and a half trying to find him.


Yeah, it was wildly traumatizing. My girlfriend, that was like a final fracture in our relationship. We lived together. I was in the middle of losing my mind over this job. I didn't have room to take care of her in that time. She quickly, and she was like, I don't want to be in the States anymore. She's from Brazil.

[00:20:02] Fiore Tedesco: 

She left Brazil. I got a bleeding ulcer and was kind of throwing up blood and was in a pretty sickly state. I had called the Westchester mental Institute and was about to check myself in. She had been calling from Brazil saying, why don't you just come down here and let my family take care of you that, and.


I kind of flipped a coin and that landed on tail sales was Brazil. So I flew to Brazil that night and, and was there for months. I was there for several months and kind of just restoring myself, getting well, trying to, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Came back to New York months later, got together with my cousin who is now just graduating.


We had grown up together. He was just graduating from college. We started a band together. And that was the start of my musical career really. And spent a lot of the next 10 years on the road touring and playing music and playing all kinds of art. And it was a really, uh, beautiful and furtive period in my life.

[00:21:08] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. I'm sure it was also somewhat cathartic and therapeutic to just have that release from everything else that was, that had happened. I'm going to direct this a little bit because I. Unfortunately, we're going to talk about some other tough things in your life. Cool. But I promise, for you and for the audience, we will get to some, some good stuff as well, because you have some amazing things going on right now.


But from what I understand, you grew up deaf. At least the first, like, part of your childhood, is that right? 

[00:21:36] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah, I did. Yes. I was, uh, 90 percent deaf. So any of you growing up watching Charlie Brown or see the Charlie Brown reruns the Charlie Brown in school, his teacher's voice, the wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.


That's what I could, I could hear just sort of muffled, almost vibrations come in, but I had no idea what, uh, couldn't really distinguish voices or, or certainly not words or anything like that. 

[00:22:03] Josh Sharkey: 

How many years was it before you could actually start to, like, ascertain what was being said? 

[00:22:07] Fiore Tedesco: 

First coming hearing, I was, it was between four and five.

[00:22:13] Josh Sharkey: 

that's, did you have brothers and sisters? 

[00:22:15] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah, at the time I had one older brother. I have a little brother that's six years younger. My, my brother Adam was about two years older. 

[00:22:23] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, I know you can't remember much from, you know, I have a three year old and an almost five year old, so I'm pretty sure they won't remember most of what has happened in the last four years.


I'm sure you can't remember a lot, but is there anything palpably you can remember about like what that must have been, what that was like for you? 

[00:22:39] Fiore Tedesco: 

You know, it's interesting. I have a lot of memories from that period. I have a lot of kind of sense memories, like really strong tactile sensations, really strong, like taste and smell memories.

[00:22:51] Josh Sharkey: 

Any you can think of that just come to mind? 

[00:22:54] Fiore Tedesco: 

Every Sunday I'd go to my grandmother's house and my grandparents lived basically on the bottom of a hill, but we lived near the top of the hill. I would target my mom and dad to drive me down to grandma and poppy's house on Sunday morning because grandma was cooking the meatballs.


And I wanted to eat the first meatballs that came out of the pan before they went into the, into the sauce, right? So I would fry them in olive oil and then go into the sauce. And I was like, that is the magical place. So I would go and ask to, you know, help roll meatballs and just be at my grandmother's head.


It's like the smell of the meatballs, like the smell of like, it's almost like the smell of parsley frying in olive oil and like the parsley in the pecorino. I can, I know what that smell and that taste is like. I can blink and it's a hundred percent there. 

[00:23:44] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. I have to imagine that has stuck with you for, for life as something that your sensory, your ability to sort of, you know, smell and taste is still, you know, amplified.

[00:23:56] Fiore Tedesco:

I would like to think, so it would be nice to take it to say so as a chef, you know, but it's also like that feeling there that even like the memory of like the way the light came in my grandmother's front window, I remember the print on my grandmother's house dress and can remember like the smell of the, from the fabric softener they used, you know, and those are all memories of like safety, you know, um, I was like, life was kind of chaos for us.


My dad around that time went to prison. I was in prison for like two and a half years. And there was a big dissolution of the family unit. And so like, I have these sense memories that like signify safety to me. And then later in life, later after, after playing music, when I really started cooking, I started to realize that recreating some of these by cooking, I was able to recreate some of these sense memories that harken back to those feelings of safety and that I could access different memories.


Different ways that I didn't know how to before. And it was that emotional connection that really drew me into the kitchen. 

[00:25:04] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Yeah. So I've been to Troy before. It's a pretty beautiful town, very quintessential kind of Hudson river, you know, yeah, it says you pal. Well, you know, if you're driving, if you're, if you're driving through, I don't know about the interior of it, but what was it like growing up in Hudson River Town with an Italian grandmother?


Obviously you have these, these memories, but I say that sort of beautifulness because I live in Hudson River Town as well, but, you know, we see, we see that, but I'm sure that there's another side to, to growing up in a town like that. That's, you know, pretty far from the city. That's, what was that like growing up for you?

[00:25:39] Fiore Tedesco: 

I mean, it is, it is a stunning town, you know, early industrialism had a really beautiful place and impact in Troy and the early architecture of the city and, and like the vast greenness of the places like so lush and so beautiful. And I grew up in this really beautiful old Victorian house, like on the way out of Troy and on route two, and I had such a strong connection to nature and into that.

[00:26:12] Fiore Tedesco: 

And the town altogether. I loved the way that town, part of it, the way it felt, the way I knew, I know every step of that. I would walk everywhere as a kid. And I, I knew, I felt like I knew every inch of that town, right? And every inch of the woods that I would walk through socially. It was really hard growing up as a deaf kid and then getting by hearing later men, I had a speech impediment for a long time.


I had a really strong list and I had a really hard time connecting socially because of it, and I was kind of a target. Part of the effects of that post industrialism town is growing up. There is a mean, hard place. People, it was not an atmosphere of openness and welcomeness and acceptance. It was more an atmosphere of judgment and oppression or my experience of it was.


And so kids were, you know, kids were mean to each other because their parents were mean to each other. I think it's turned towards being a nice place again. But in the 15 or plus years that I was there, I would think might have been amongst us the worst time in the last couple hundred years of or however long it's been a city.


It was, it was a mean place to grow up. I have a lot of beautiful memories as well. But yeah, kids were way meaner to me and to each other than I wish they, they would have been. And I was really fighting to get out from a early age, from like 12, 13, I was just itching for a way out, which I was motivated me to, I excelled in music, oddly, as a person that was deaf and then got their hearing.


I was like, uh, I had, uh, some part of natural instincts as a drummer. For some reason I latched on to tennis as the thing that was gonna be the way out for me despite nobody in my family playing tennis or having any real connection to it. I latched on to it and committed myself to it and, uh, it kind of did the thing I asked it to do.

[00:28:11] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, I know that feeling, man. Well, look, I know you have at least one daughter because your restaurant is named after, after her, Lucinda. And, so, I'm curious. I have to imagine you have a perspective on this, on the benefit of adversity, because obviously so much of that sucks. But what is the good that came from that?


Because you know, you talk about, you know, how difficult it was growing up. I mean, you know, have tough childhoods. Yours seems incredibly tough. But I, you know, this is such a tough subject because I do believe, and I have two kids, that resilience is this thing that, Like you have to try and instill. We also have cooks, we have team members.


You want to try and instill this resilience in folks. And you can't have that without some suffering. What's your perspective that given how much suffering you've had, what do you think that that, how important is that to building resilience and then how do you actually instill that in your, in your kids or your team, like respectfully, safely, if you feel like that's important.

[00:29:07] Fiore Tedesco: 

Yeah. I mean, from, I guess a macro or like getting into like a kind of more religious sense about it, like from thinking from like a Buddhist perspective, I'm not a Buddhist, but like, I love the, some of the messaging and suffering brings you closer to God, suffering illuminates the struggles of the deeper struggles of, of mankind connects you to like a higher power in some way.


Another way to say that is like, It brings you great empathy, getting through struggles, like getting, brings you to like appreciating other humans, like in mass, like I appreciate humanity. I feel like I have a soft spot for humanity. I want all humans to thrive, not just the ones that are closest to me.


And I feel that because the suffering I've experienced. Kind of open the door to, to just want everyone be able to experience peace and my path to finding peace in myself has been like a real journey. So for my kids, yep. My daughter, Lucy is 14. My, my son, Francis is 2. Lucy has not had the same If you were to look on paper, like it would seem like she's got like a pretty delightful life and her experience thus far as her parents are in a really stable, happy marriage, and she has not had anything impede on her own success in her life through injury or illness or nothing bad has happened.


And so do I worry about her sense of resilience? Yes, I do. And that said. There's a side to it that we talk a lot. I talk, I tell her sort of stories of what it was like for me, not like from a distance, but like, well, like, you know, kind of lay in bed next to each other and just talk about it and be like, I want to share this with you because I think it's important for you to have some context.


She's one of the most empathetic people that I've ever met. And. She's had small, you know, rejections from different, trying to make this team, trying to do this, trying to, she's been trying to do things that maybe were, she was not totally prepared to make the team or make the cut just yet. She had not put in the same time yet.


Some of the other kids had, and I see her attitude about it and I see it of like so much wiser than I ever was about it. I'd see it like she was like that. You know, it's cool that I tried, right? Yeah. Like, I really just wanted to, like, she'd just tried after the tennis team for middle school, she had decided six weeks before.


And I was like, gosh, it's, you know, that's going to be tough. She's like, well, let's just give it a try. And so she and I just played a bunch and I gave her lessons to get her in shape for. And now she's like, well, I didn't make the team, but let's, let's just play more tennis together. 

[00:32:14] Josh Sharkey: 

Wow. I mean, that's, that's a great attitude.


It's a, it's, you know, I think that's, it's a blessing. 

[00:32:20] Fiore Tedesco: 

Part of the resilience as it pertains to like discipline and a certain amount of grit that you have to put in to succeed in a life in kitchens. It's a very distinct thing, right? That we share when we meet other chefs that we know that have had similar that they've been, they've, Oh, you are in this kitchen.

[00:32:41] Fiore Tedesco: 

There's a respect among us. Not because like, it's a weird fraternity. It's because I know how hard you had to work in order to get to where you are. I know how much, how much determination. How much grit and must have taken you to be in that place. So I have an instant admiration and respect by way of empathy for you.


That said, I wondered like the way I see that the resilience mechanism in my daughter, as she has confidence, she has real confidence by way of empathy. Bad things not happening to her. I wonder about, is it a false paradigm? 

[00:33:17] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:33:17] Fiore Tedesco: 

The resilience paradigm. You know what I mean? Is it because I, I've spent the last 30 years doing myself by like, no, I'm a tough guy.

[00:33:26] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:33:26] Fiore Tedesco: 

Because I can get over being a disability or being deaf or my dad being a prisoner or that my friend's dying or, you know, I can, I can get through that by way of resilience. Yeah. But would I just be, experience more joy more easily 

[00:33:41] Josh Sharkey: 

If those things didn't happen? I don't know. I mean, look, I don't think you can experience the level of joy and gratefulness without the other side of suffering.


I mean, Absolutely. Many of us have it. Like, I remember cutting weight when I was wrestling for many, many years and you don't eat for three, four days. And then that first bite you have is, nothing tastes better than that, right? And you know, now I fast for five days because I'm trying to go after that, that adversity.


And yeah, I think about for our kids or even for our team, you know, because cooking is now a very different thing than it was 20 years ago when we started, when you, it was difficult to even find a job, let alone get, you know, get them to, to bring you in. Yeah. Absolutely. But there's no way around the fact that it gets easier every generation because it's supposed to.


But that doesn't mean that, and we have to like protect our kids and our team from externally terrible things and, but I do think that, I also do think it's sort of incumbent upon us to, Help them go after ways to find, this sounds bad, some form of suffering, because, look, your daughter is confident, and it sounds like she has a great attitude, and that's awesome, and she needs to keep that, but at some point she'll do something that she really wants that won't work, and that's okay, but I think if you never heard.


If you never experienced that or you never experienced like something, something that really, you know, lets you know like, Hey, not everything in this world is going to work out for you. You can have this expectation that it's supposed to. And then when it doesn't, you feel, you know, you feel slighted, you know, it's funny that the CEO of this company called NVIDIA, this big, everybody's talking about this video, he was talking to students at Stanford and basically what he said was high expectations is the easiest way to be unhappy.


This coming from one of the, you know, like the largest companies in the world. And yeah, it's so interesting to, you know, I'm hearing you talk about your daughter and of course you want to protect her, but at what part of our job for our kids or for our team is to also find ways for them to see, Hey, guess what?


There's also some tough things here and you should, you should go through that and fail because 

[00:35:52] Fiore Tedesco: 

Where it's interesting, we're, we're at a funny little moment right now. I won't get too deep into it, but she's about to go to high school. We're in a magnet program and we're getting pushed back about the one of the schools that she got into where she wants to go and.


Whether or not she gets to go there, we're not certain, right? And I hear you and, and yeah, I want to protect my children with all of, with every bone in my body, every instinct in me says, protect them. And then the reasonable part of me says, protect them, but contextualize it. Like, don't protect them blindly.


Like, if I pulled them out of, out of traffic that they're walking into. I don't say, Oh, cool. Let's not let's keep going. I say, Hey, I want you to understand what was about to happen. What was, you know, that our lives were almost totally different at this turn. I've spent a lot of time talking to Lucy about trying to contextualize like her life is like versus what her mom and I have childhoods and lives were like, I want to kind of just like lay it in the simplest, most bare way for her.


I want to make sure that. She has opportunity. I want to protect her from monsters, you know? 

[00:37:11] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:37:11] Fiore Tedesco: 

But yeah, I also want her to know that monsters are there and there's a point at which I'm not going to be able to protect her from the monsters, you know? Yeah. Yeah. Uh, whatever they may be. 

[00:37:24] Josh Sharkey: 

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Yeah. Yeah. And independent of protection. I want to sort of steer this a little bit onto into your restaurant a bit because I know I have to imagine this also impacts how you think about, you know, your team. The whole, like, whenever you hear this message that we tend to say sometimes when we're older, of like, in my day, we worked 15 hour days, and it was six days a week, and doubles, and we didn't have this, and we didn't have that, and da da da.


You know, that doesn't work. And it doesn't, and no one really cares, and they hear it, and they're like, yeah, whatever. And that may even be the case. And that's, that's fine. You know, they have it, You know, they're supposed to have it easier. Each generation is supposed to have it easier. I mean, before us, I'm sure it was even, even harder.


But, the beauty in it is that like, you, at least I believe, that it just means that the bar keeps getting raised of the more things that they can do, and it's our job to force them into new situations that are harder, so that they can fake fail, right? To see that, you know, maybe they, you know, You know, for the interest of the topics here, I'm going to kind of migrate us over to L'Oca d'Oro and your team, and then just generally kind of like restaurant teams and cooks and things like that.


They don't work the same hours as us. They don't, you know, you don't have the shift pay and the six days with doubles and they don't have people throwing things at them and those things don't happen anymore. That's awesome. Actually, that's not a bad thing, but for sure there was a part of that that built this camaraderie with us and built, you know, this going to war with your team.


There's also this premise of, you know, you have to spend way more years mastering something than back then than you, than you do today. And so all of that is true, but what do you do now? Right? So they do have more opportunities. They do have better working conditions. So what's the new thing that we can sort of impress upon these younger folks to help them, like, raise the bar even more?


I don't know what it is, but I'm curious if you think about that, you know, you have your daughter and your kids, but like, you also have a team of cooks. I remember this one, Peter used to, was a young cook, worked for me and now, and then he went and worked for you and things on his own, but like, you have a lot of young cooks going through your kitchen, right?


Like, what, how do you think about that? 

[00:40:40] Fiore Tedesco: 

Mainly, I agree with the paradigm you presented is what I think about. Every day and in some ways, I feel sorry or badly for them that they don't have context of the grit that it once took. To be in a kitchen and how hard you or I might have needed to work or hustle to get to just get an opportunity and that they can walk into, you know, one of the best restaurants in the town and be like, you know, can I have a job where I can, 

[00:41:14] Josh Sharkey: 

Of course, 

[00:41:15] Fiore Tedesco: 

You can have a job, go on in, but very distinctly, like the way I think about it is, oh, you have more intellectual space because you are not being the part of you having to earn this.


In that way is unfettered. You don't have to earn it the same way. You don't have to grin it out. So that part of your brain is more accessible. So the thing that I can instill is that in my kitchen, you need to be more empathetic to succeed. The better listener you are, the more progress you're going to get.


The more empathy you are very clearly showing to all the cooks around you, to the rest of the team around you, that your success is tied to that. Right. And all the technical markers are of achievement as a cook or go along with that. But I, I feel like if you're becoming a good cook is becoming a good listener, you have to be present for the process.


If you're present for the process, less is going to go wrong. And so I don't think it's that different, but I, I've framed it very differently to my staff, to my teams in terms of what their markers of success are. Because I think our generation didn't have room for that, but I've realized that being more present is kind of the, the thing that we're, all of us have been after throughout, throughout history, right.


Is trying to show up and be able to fully be present for the environment that you are be in that moment. And this generation has an opportunity to embody more of that more accessibly. And I think that's the thing that I'm trying to coach into them. 

[00:43:04] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, it's tough. There's no way around it. It will always get a little, you know, those things will start to get, you know, easier and things get unlocked.


You know, there's a great book by Robert Cialdini called Articles of Persuasion, but it's basically about, about that. One of them is, uh, is the scarcity principle and you know, there's a parable about fraternities and why, you know, fraternities have this hazing ritual and the importance of it and The most important aspect of this, of course, you don't want people to be, you know, hurt or anything like that, is that because you have to go through this, through this experience and because not everybody can get in and you have this adversity, you appreciate it so much more.


Whereas if you just got in and they actually did a test, you know, you just don't appreciate it as much. And I don't know if there is an impact of new, you know, there's a lot of young cooks that love what they do and are really talented. So I don't know if there's any, if there's an impact, but.


Historically speaking, based on science, it seems like there probably is some sort of impact of, because there's less of a, of a roadblock to actually get in. I mean, you, you couldn't even stage at Le Bernardin in 2000, you know, let alone get a job. Now I'm sure you're just walking in there has to have some sort of impact on the appreciation of, of the industry when you, and you can just kinda get any job you want.


Yeah, I think so. I mean, it's like the parable of the gauntlet, like as you present, I think is a real one and how do we create that in, I just try to create a different gauntlet, right? Like the atmosphere for hiring is a different one. And the way we hire is totally different at L'Oca d'Oro. I hire almost exclusively for personalities that are going to be a great cultural fit for how we communicate together.


Is this person going to work in the room? Yeah. 

[00:44:49] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:44:50] Fiore Tedesco: 

If it's a yes, mostly I've been like, it doesn't matter if they're, if they've been, they've worked for four Michelin stars or if they've never picked up a knife in their life. The cooking is the easy part in a way that teaching them to be the kind of human that will thrive in the environment that we're professing to foster is a little more challenging.


The gauntlet that we run is like, can you, can you show up and be the best of yourself? 

[00:45:16] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:45:16] Fiore Tedesco: 

and the way that we ask that of them, it's a lot of individual time, a lot of individual coaching and kind of asking a group of people that are all of, of disparate levels to make a menu every day to look adorable.


Like we're making the menu from scratch every day, you have to show up and be great every day. And so. There is a time, and if this is 25 years ago in New York, where that kind of kitchen, like, we know, I have a bunch of assassins on the line that all they, all they know how to do is this, right? Yeah. These people are, are showing up, they don't have that level, they don't have the same skin in the game necessarily, right?


And they don't necessarily have the same technical expertise, but what I'm asking them to do is very similar. Mm hmm. So the gauntlet is getting from A to Z. Despite that. And so there's no shaming. There's no like, you know, not shaming people. There's a high rate of failure is what I'm saying. 

[00:46:21] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:46:21] Fiore Tedesco: 

I welcome that failure.

[00:46:23] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:46:24] Fiore Tedesco: 

On the daily. Cause that's how they learn. 

[00:46:27] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Another thing that you that you said that I wanted to and I think a lot of people can relate to this You said you wanted to get techniques and ideas out of your system So you can get back in touch with where your soul lives, right? You grew up with a Italian grandmother cooking and you that's the food that you know and love a lot of times We go to restaurants and we have you know Technically perfect food that doesn't really make us super excited and then you have you know Go to a restaurant where it's basically perfect at all, but it's delicious.


And in the same way that like a guitarist can, you do amazing arpeggios and be a technically like amazing at scales still might make music that is not enjoyable to us. The same thing just in the kitchen, but you kind of have to have both. I'm curious for you, like you definitely are instilling a lot more of sort of like the soul of cooking, but you, Technically know a lot about cooking.


How do you balance that technique and soul in a professional kitchen where you have to have people execute at somewhat of a consistent level and that your customers can expect and still technically be proficient, but also instill that soul that you're trying to get out of the vision of your restaurant.

[00:47:36] Fiore Tedesco: 

I found that I have a, like a series of specific recipes that help tell that narrative and that when a new cook comes in, I know that they're going to make my tomato jam. It's going to be the first thing that they make. And the reason is, is because it balances some sort of fine technical cooking with high degree of presence necessary for the last stage of it.


It needs some instinct and take some conversation to get through their recipe. 


It’s a very simple recipe, but it's, we're adding a stabilizer. Late in the game, the big part of it is the tomatoes. We cook the tomatoes until they're just about to burst, right? Cooking cherry tomatoes whole, making basically an agrodolce, making a syrup and then cooking the tomatoes in that syrup until just shy of 180 degrees.


At 180 degrees, the tomato wants to burst. Yeah. At 174, it doesn't. 

[00:48:30] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:48:31] Fiore Tedesco: 

And so we want to stop the cooking, right? When it's almost like when you, when you're making. Popcorn, you're listening for that first kernel. Mm-Hmm. . Yeah. To pop. When you're making the my tomato jam, it's like looking for that first tomato, the pop, and then you're shedding the heat.


Give it out a few minutes and then we decide three minutes after that, how many hundred of a gram of destabilizer we add, xanthan or pectin or 

something. We're just using xanthan

[00:49:00] Josh Sharkey: 


[00:49:00] Fiore Tedesco: 

And it's, it's relative to the amount of pectin that was in that collective of tomatoes in that batch. Right. And so you have to, you're just.


You know, you have to take a spatula and swipe and see how much of a line it's leaving before you add it. So it's a simple recipe, but it requires a good deal of intuition to get right. And I teach a first because that's, it's a good example of how I want to shape their cooking journeys with us is where I'm going to teach you technique.


I'm going to teach you different techniques that may be familiar. It may not be, but some of these things are tricky to learn. And the hardest part is just. 

[00:49:41] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, some of the best recipes require that, you know, like the bricks level will change on something, you know, throughout the year and the tannin level, and no matter how prescriptive you are, some of that is, that's what makes a great cook is someone that can understand that.


Yeah. It's funny that. You know, just randomly, by the way, that's how I make all of my marmalades, like my strawberry or any berry, basically, like, I can't stand when people cook down berries, because they all taste exactly the same if you cook them down to sec. So, I do the same exact thing with like strawberries, like peak seasons, like if you get perfect tri star strawberries, you know, the worst thing you can do is just cook them down to sec, because then they just taste like, you know, like every other strawberry.


Cook until they barely, you know, just barely warm through and then, yeah, you do have to xanthan or something to. 

[00:50:29] Fiore Tedesco: 

Right, but it's that I made that tomato jam recipe like from a marmalade recipe, right? Like I adapted it from that because it is that same idea of another reason I use that recipe first at L'Oca d'Oro's.


Who are we as an Italian restaurant? What is the story that we're trying to tell? Where a lot of the technique is not Italian and, and ascribing technique to provenance is kind of a, a zero sum game anyways, what's wonderful about the principle of Italian cooking is celebrating simple ingredients. And so all the technique that we use at Loka is based around that very simple principle of how do we shine the light on this?


So in that tomato jam, it's like these mini San Marzano tomatoes that are grown in West Texas when they're great, they're really great. How do we shine the brightest star on them? And what is the least interventive way to, to like highlight them? That's what I love about cooking altogether. That's my, I mean, that's like my soul in the kitchen is.


Is that that credo altogether I'm for years, like, I was like, I'm going to get this done so I can get a job at Alinea so I can learn these techniques that's going to open doors for me. But I was thinking about it kind of backwards that the techniques were going to open doors for me. The techniques are a subjective set.


It's like subjective set of it's kind of like different colors of paint, right? Yeah, just a tool kit.

[00:52:02] Fiore Tedesco: 

Right. Like there's an appropriate toolkit for everyone. Elvin Jones, the drummer, when I was a teenager, he's like, what do you got all those drums for? You only need three of them. You know? And often it's true, it's true with everything like the working with the simplest toolkit and being thoughtful within that is a real place of confidence.


And after learning a lot of different techniques and trying a lot of different things, trying a lot of restaurants and on for size and working there, like I've realized what culturally what's important to me. Technically, where I have a voice.

[00:52:42] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. For me, like the, the things that we make in the kitchen, I look at this sort of like hierarchy of why we make them, right?


So like you first cook for yourself because you love to do it. And then hopefully you cook for the, I don't know if it's in this order, but like cook for yourself and then you cook for the ingredient. Right. And then you cook for meaning like you appreciate the ingredient like this thing at the peak season or because you love blue crab and there's a way to, you know, enjoy that versus Jonah crab versus snow crab.


And then you cook for the team, meaning like you have to have some techniques involved so that they learn and they get, you know, inspired by more than just the ingredients. And then you cook, of course, for the customer, right? Because you have to have an experience that the customer is like, Want to go there versus somewhere else and wants to cut, leave home for this thing.


And then some folks cook for the betterment of the industry, but like you're sort of innovating to a place where, Hey, these are net new things that, that we should learn. And not many folks do that. That's the nomas and, and, and, and things like that. That's a very difficult thing, but that spectrum, I feel like it's okay to sort of, you know, over index on any one of those, but I'm with you, man, on the, on the ingredient piece of like, you know, like, I love it when someone tells me I, I hate.


Asparagus, and then I'm just gonna go totally ham on, oh yeah, well, you know, you probably have, like, and go after it. And I think that's one of the most beautiful things about cooking is when you just focus on like, let me highlight this thing. It's a perfect season. It's the perfect crispness. Like what texture should it be?

[00:54:12] Josh Sharkey:

What's like the least amount of things that I can add to it to make it delicious. 

[00:54:17] Fiore Tedesco: 

L'Oca d'Oro, my first restaurant's been around for, you know, eight years now. We just opened a new place called Bambino, a pizza, a pizza joint we opened two weeks ago. Oh, 

[00:54:25] Josh Sharkey: 

wow. What kind of oven are you using? A Pizzamaster. Nice.


What style of pizza, or is it multiple styles? 

[00:54:32] Fiore Tedesco: 

It's, uh, one style, and it's a hybrid. It's a crispy bottom, very wide, fluffy. Edge wide corner shown a, so it was a hybrid of the kind of the way I'm thinking about it is like the, the Tokyo manifestation of Neapolitan pizza that has gotten like really hyperbolic with the edge where it's beautifully custardy.


I love like a little bit of crackle crispness to the bottom of a piece of pizza. It isn't that is magic to me. So it was combining those worlds, which was, we spent the last two years working on. Trying to find a way into it. We're in a pretty good spot. 

[00:55:09] Josh Sharkey: 

Is there some bread flour in there? Is it like, what do you, using?

[00:55:12] Fiore Tedesco: 

We're using, it's all organic flour. It's pretty high protein, but not crazy high. And it's milled of like four different flours. Yeah. It's a, you know, it's a, Three day fermented, yeast added at, you know, starter, b gov and starter and then fresh yeast added. Yeah. So yeast added in three different stages.

[00:55:33] Josh Sharkey: 

Awesome. Well, next time we're lost in them. Yeah. You definitely have to check it out. So did I read you have a, like a cheese production too? 

[00:55:39] Fiore Tedesco: 

Oh, I, I started, uh, a water Buffalo creamery and dairy started that in 2020. Yeah. And I got to travel to a lot to Italy to work in cheese factories and do research for that.


And, um, working with a pal here and a rancher after and to 21, as we're getting the retail shop open and I was just working on developing mozzarella, it was right when we are getting L'Oca d'Oro back open. After being shut down for a year and a half, and it turned into a joyless time trying to do both. So I gave up my interest in the dairy.

[00:56:18] Josh Sharkey: 

Gotcha. It's a, it sounds like you spent some time in Italy looking at those, at those dairies. It's such an amazing culture of building cheese over there. I remember visiting outside of Parma, this Valserina, which is one of the oldest farm farms. And, and like one of the coolest things that I didn't think about, most of the folks that are making the cheese on these farms, or at least on this particular farm, were Hindu.


And it was because they have this incredible respect for the cow. And they also don't drink, which is, you know, helpful, but it's like blew my mind that like, wow, that's so smart and they love making this cheese and it's incredible cheese and there's such a cool world of all the ways in which cheese are produced in Italy, you know, of course, everywhere in the world there is, but 

[00:57:01] Fiore Tedesco: 

I love the culture of honoring the animal.


I mean, I feel really complicated about dairy and the dairy industry, because it's true. There's some very fancy, like water buffalo farms in Campania, outside of Naples, where it's like, there is a tannery, you know, you walk in and they, you get a tour and the hostess saying, we only play a Beethoven for the animals.


That's all they listen to. That's how they respond to it. This is the life they live. And they're, and like, The water buffalo are just like clean. If they're like supermodels of, you know, they're just sparkling and clean. They do a wonderful job, but it doesn't, it doesn't paint the whole picture. Cause I mean, the question I asked when I was there, I was like, this is wonderful.


What happens to the boys? Is, uh, you know, this is a different, uh, you know, I was like, Oh, there's, there's a lot of carnage associated with, with dairy to, to make it happen. Like there's a lot of great work that's been done with semen samples to control breeding to that. If you're trying to breed cows that you're mostly breeding female cows.


So there's a less death associated in the process, but ethically, I feel really complicated about it. Because if I worry and some of the nicest places that I've been, don't have an ethical plan for the male animals that are born or the plan that they do have in place is pretty inhumane and pretty atrocious.


It is not part of the narrative and it's not part of the story that's told about them. And I was, I was wondering, as you were saying that about the, the Hindu population that is working on, on the Dharin Parma, how they reconcile that problem from a religious standpoint. 

[00:58:51] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, I'll have to find that out.


It's tough, man. I mean, you know, like every, there isn't I digress. As soon as you start, like, scaling agriculture, I mean, you go to an avocado farm in California, every squirrel and rabbit and insect has been murdered in order to grow that avocado or that almond. And it's tough to get around. And I think, you know, you have to kind of, you know, pick your battles and there's not a place where you can just grow, you know, everything in, I mean, we can't grow avocados in New York.


It's a tough one. That's another episode. But we had some, obviously some super delicious food in L'Oca d'Oro. Now, now I realize whatever we ate that day was completely different the next day. So I didn't, I didn't know that. But can you tell me a little bit about like the Austin scene has changed a bunch, right?


So you, you, you opened Locador like eight years ago. You just opened up a new spot. How has sort of this influx of, you know, all these folks, tech folks and entertainment folks coming from, from all over moving to the city, how has the scene changed over the last decade? Not just in terms of like the, the, the food that's there, but the culture and the community, because I've seen a big.

[00:59:57] Josh Sharkey: 

You know, change from an outside perspective, not to mention the real estate, but what have you seen, you know, having been there for, you know, for so long, the culture for professionalism 

[01:00:07] Fiore Tedesco: 

has really like jumped up in the higher, you know, there's a group of, of restaurants and of chefs that recognize in each other that they care and that some of us care about the same thing.


It's kind of relates a little bit to our nonprofit that we helped start Good Work. Austin, I'll get, I can get into that in a minute. Part of it is like, in terms of the scene, like the quality and like sort of cultural and ethnic distinction of different foods is really off the charts. The level of different kinds of service that you're able to witness, be a part of is wildly different than when we got here.


And, uh, the community, you know, I talked to Phil Spear about this sometimes cause when I, you know, I walked in and staged at Uchico when I was, which had just opened. The year that I was moving here and he will, he was quick to tell me that they had a really tight, tight knit network of cooks then. And I feel like there's a new generation of, of cooks that have really banded together.


I think the value system has, has changed the issues that we're talking about. The way that we communicate the, you know, I, I spent a lot of time in conversation, having coffee, hanging out, playing tennis with a lot of different, a lot of my friends are, are chef and restaurant owners and the community around it.


Is something I'm so wildly grateful for. I'm grateful that there's a, there's a really high intellect. There's a lot of people that really, really care about hospitality and care about what does a future, the future of hospitality here mean, and then there's a lot of like minded people that care about.


Sustainability and solving bigger problems outside of hospitality here. Most of that, like, didn't have, I didn't have access to when I moved here. And it's really great being part of kind of a scene where, where we have such a tight knit community. 

[01:02:07] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. I mean, it definitely seems like the community has changed a bunch and it's way more close knit than, than it's ever been.

[01:02:17] Fiore Tedesco: 

That's one side of it. It's one side of it. It's like greatness. Closeness. The other side is it's created environment where it seems like it's a great idea to open restaurants here, right? And it's not it's it's generally generally not generally 80 percent of the people that are opening restaurants should not be and there's a lot of money.


There's a lot of kind of like funny tech money around that will somebody's vanity project will open. Mm hmm. And we're, it's a little saturated. 

[01:02:48] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Yeah. Well, that comes out in the wash, you know? I mean, I think restaurants are, are the great equalizer. You know, you, it either is going to work or it's not.


And it's not always because it's good food or not good food or good service or not good service, but, you know, you learn quickly whether it's going to work or not. That's right. Well, cool, man. I mean, I'm curious, like, you know, what is the next, you know, three, four, five years look like for you? 

[01:03:14] Fiore Tedesco: 

That's a good question. You know, we have this new baby in Bambino that we have really high hopes for that we're really excited about. I'm really curious to find out what it's able to do, what its reach is going to be, kind of like using pizza as an egalitarian food to connect people, how far does that further connect us within community in Austin, and what does that mean for us?

[01:03:39] Josh Sharkey: 

Does that mean you're thinking about, you know, if it works, you want to scale it to more locations? Uh, 

[01:03:44] Fiore Tedesco: 

yeah, that's definitely possible. 

[01:03:46] Josh Sharkey: 


[01:03:46] Fiore Tedesco: 

but I wouldn't want to jump to that until I know that's a good idea. It's like the soul of a place. It's the most important thing, right? Yeah, and replicating a soul.


We have not figured out how to make that work. Replicating a concept that is soulful. And having a team that is built up to do it again. That sounds 

[01:04:07] Josh Sharkey: 

fun. Yeah, yeah. It's so true, man. It's easy to look at restaurants as a sort of mechanical beast to then replicate. And I think that's usually when it goes wrong.


I mean, look, there's a lot of other things that can go wrong when you try to go from one to two locations of something. Every problem scales, but, you know, it's, you know, Danny Meyer, I remember him, you know, screaming this from the rooftops very often early on, and you see it in his, in his restaurants, and it, and you see the same thing with even something like sweet cream, right, like, you gotta first, like, build something that people love, and that you love, and that you can put your finger on why, and then you can decide whether it's worth, you know, scaling, and I think oftentimes what happens is, You start making some money and you just multiply that and say, or you're not making money, but you think if you multiply it, you will end.And then that's our, 

[01:05:06] Fiore Tedesco: 

I mean, L'Oca d'Oro has been like a wonderful kind of institution in town now for, for eight years. And I'm, I'm just now learning how to be. A good, my new job is like a, is as a restauranteur, it's like being between both, both restaurants, balancing and booing both teams and being very present for both entities, I'm really excited about that challenge.


And I have to, every day, like, you know, I woke up today and I was like, you know, I think about that Denny Meyer quote all the time. It's that one's embedded in me and think about why Locador has been around for eight years. It is keeping things fresh is hard, right? Both internally and to the outside. And what today am I going to focus on that's special and beautiful about this place?


And how am I going to talk to the team about it? And, and how do I want that to manifest to where our guests are going to find out about that special thing? Right? That's my challenge for today. I think about that as the kind of challenge that I set up myself up for every day. Yeah. Yeah. I'm also, I've been writing a book.


Oh, no shit. I've been, I've been working on a memoir for the last little bit and writing stories. And I'm, I was hard to be back to your question. I convinced to go about like the next three or four or five years. Like. I want to get in a place where I can share a lot of the stories that are in there as stories that I've shared with my friends, my family, and a lot with my team.


I want to get those stories out in the world and share that with the, with the public. 

[01:06:47] Josh Sharkey: 


[01:06:47] Fiore Tedesco: 

And so I'm, I'm hoping that I have a part of my next chapter is in celebrating that. 

[01:06:53] Josh Sharkey: 

I love that. Well, I mean, just here today in the hour or so that we've been chatting, I didn't know half of these stories and they're so compelling and interesting.


I want to learn more. So I'm excited to hear more about the book when it comes out, man. Thanks, Josh. Parting question for you. I don't know if you think about this. You can just say, you know, I don't think about this, but I think about it sometimes as a fun little like exercise for myself. But you know, if you had unlimited time, what would you do?


Capital unlimited resources. What are you not 

doing today that you would do given that if you had as much capital and resources and time as you needed to do it, are there things that you're not doing today that are simply a limit of the amount of time and capital you have? 

[01:07:39] Fiore Tedesco: 

Number one would be the way I take care of my body.


I'm envious of those that like put their body first and that's a natural order of things for them. For me, it feels like. My family needs me, the team needs me, and these are at like the top of the pyramid, and I put my mental health at the top of the pyramid the last couple of years, and that's been really helpful, putting my sort of like addressing just my physical health, my physical well being, I've had a really hard time making that a priority, and it feels like it's a function of Time, right?


I need more time. I need to buy myself more time. That's the easy number, number one that comes up. 

[01:08:26] Josh Sharkey: 

I mean, I know what you mean so much. It's so tough. I mean, we both have two kids. It's like you wake up early. They're up early, you know, you work all day and come home for them. And then you're with them and you go to bed and then maybe get some more work done.


And then you do it all over again. And I always struggle with working too much. And then, you know, I had obviously a wife, and then kids, and I'm like, oh my gosh, now I have even less time. And for a very long time, honestly, Fiore, up until like very recently, and I mean like in the last like two months, I don't, and you know, took some, some therapies, I'm talking to some other like, you know, friends.

[01:09:02] Josh Sharkey: 

I just never put any time aside for myself. I would even put it on the calendar, but still not do it. And it was because I was just like, no, I can't. I've always liked exercise and woke up early to exercise. But the mental health part and other things like I just never did. And even now, like thinking about my kids, like, you know, I'm there for them before school, after school.


But there are things I would miss, you know, I'd miss like, Picking them up for a certain thing or like a, a, an appointment they have and my wife would do that. And like, for some reason, I don't know what clicked, but recently, I just decided, you know what? I'm just gonna, if I miss a half day of work, let's see what happens.


Let's see what happens if I just take an hour out. And then before I could just never do it. And um, it's been a couple months now. I gotta be honest, man. I think I'm more productive. I think I'm actually more productive and happier and I have less guilt and I don't think it's, you know, like I have to be sensitive to the fact that, you know, like not all of us own our businesses where we can make our own hours and kind of do things kind of how we, you know, we want.


And also I'm sensitive to like, as a restaurateur, you have less flexibility there, right? You know, There's something to that and part of it, I think, is also like, you know, having an accountability person to say, Hey, did you do that today? Did you take care of yourself? Did you? I started this app called Copilot, basically like a personal trainer remotely.

[01:10:24] Josh Sharkey: 

It's fine, the personal trainer part, but just knowing that somebody like knows whether I worked out or not is, is kind of nice. But I know what you're going through, man, it's tough. I will say, I think you probably do have the time and you just got to like, you know, there's going to be something else that has to get given up, but I, I wonder if like you tested it out, if it would still be, you know, still work out.

[01:10:47] Fiore Tedesco: 

I know that it's there. I know that it's, it's really just a mental reordering of it. Right. 

[01:10:52] Josh Sharkey: 


[01:10:52] Fiore Tedesco: 

The truth is like, and yes, like we're, I think we're both blessed and having the kind of autonomy that we have in our lives. With that, like, I recognize I can really do anything that I want if I, if it's what I really want, I mean, this, uh, like on an existential level, we can, any of us can do anything we want.

[01:11:12] Fiore Tedesco: 

There's a cost. 

[01:11:13] Josh Sharkey: 


[01:11:14] Fiore Tedesco: 

That's not free. There's a cost of trying. There's a cost of achieving. And there's some suffering involved in that, I think maybe getting back to your first question or the first thing we talked about is maybe the, the greatest thing that suffering teaches you is that, you know, that, you know, how the math works, right?

[01:11:34] Fiore Tedesco: 

You're like, I already know what it feels like to suffer. Am I willing to suffer to try to, you know, climb this next mountain? 

[01:11:41] Josh Sharkey: 


[01:11:41] Fiore Tedesco: 

And generally the answer is yeah. Generally the answer is like what's on the other side of suffering is joy for achievement. And appreciation for like a, um, a greater, deeper appreciation for life.

[01:11:54] Fiore Tedesco: 

So let's go get it. 

[01:11:56] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. And I think the thing that we all have to remember you and I, especially in anybody in this scenario is it can very quickly sort of bleed into this notion that we should just be suffering. And when we're having fun, Oh, wait a second. No, this isn't, this isn't right. And I think that's the part, you know, and I'm, I'm 42, almost 43.


Like we're, we're probably close in age. We're like, wait a second, I'm going to be 50 soon. It's okay to have fun. It's okay. Maybe, you know, and, and even on a Tuesday, you know, what, why not? And, you know, we, we spend our whole lives as cooks or whatever else we're doing, like, just working maniacally all the time.


And life goes by. And I think actually, it actually feels like more of a risk. To do that than not, but at least for myself, I'm trying more and more to like put that out there because, you know, I, I think that maybe it will actually just mean things will continue no matter what, even if I'm actually having fun outside of work or something, 

[01:12:56] Fiore Tedesco: 

kind of removing the ego from the equation of like, are they going to be okay with him?

[01:13:01] Josh Sharkey: 


[01:13:01] Fiore Tedesco: 

yeah. They're gonna be fine. And sometimes getting out of the way, even just for an afternoon leaves room for somebody else to experience and learn more than they might have that day. And so long as you come back and you're there to support and you ask the questions and you like, Hey, what did you learn when I wasn't there?


You're often paving the way for more full experiences. 

[01:13:22] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah, man. That's 

[01:13:23] Fiore Tedesco: 

a leader. 

[01:13:23] Josh Sharkey: 

Yeah. Well, Fiore, this was awesome. I really appreciate you not only taking time to chat, but opening up and sharing some of these stories. It was really just heartfelt and I'm grateful that I got to hear more about your background.


I'm stoked to come to Austin again soon and check out your new spot. So thank you and let's go, let's go have some fun. 

[01:13:43] Fiore Tedesco: 

I would love to go have some fun with you. I got some ideas. Well, I hope to see you soon. And thanks so much for having me. This, uh, a really awesome podcast. I love listening to it. And thanks so much for taking the time to have me out.

[01:13:54] Josh Sharkey: 


[01:13:55] Fiore Tedesco: 

for sure, man. 

[01:13:58] Josh Sharkey: 

Thanks for tuning into The meez Podcast. The music from the show is a remix of the song art mirror by an old friend, hip hop artist, fresh daily for show notes and more visit get me's. com forward slash podcast. That's G E T M E Z. com. If you enjoyed the show, I'd love it if you can share it with fellow entrepreneurs and culinary pros and give us a five star rating wherever you listen to your podcasts.


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