meez podcast

Bonus Episode: Josh Sharkey Talks Menu Engineering, Culinary Entrepreneurship and Innovation at ICE

Josh Sharkey ICE interview

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About this episode

In this special episode of The meez Podcast, listeners are treated to a captivating talk given at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City between Brian Konopka, Director of Strategic Operations Dean of Restaurant & Culinary Management, and Josh Sharkey, Founder and CEO of meez.

Addressing a business class with a culinary focus, Josh and Brian engage with a dynamic group of students and faculty, discussing the journey of entrepreneurship, the challenges faced along the way, and the experience of building and scaling restaurants and a food tech company.

The episode delves deep into topics such as recipes, food costing, menu engineering, and, of course, meez. The students' enthusiasm and curiosity were truly inspiring, offering a hopeful glimpse into the future of the culinary industry. Tune in to share in the insightful and inspiring conversation.

What We Cover

(02:50): Josh Sharkey's early career

(07:16): How and when meez was created

(12:00): Menu engineering 101

(20:18): Gathering the recipe data for meez

(26:32): How AI is changing the industry

(33:33): Why grandma's recipe just tastes better

(36:11): Balancing work and life


[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 works, but I really appreciate the support. And as always, I hope you enjoy the show.


Hello, ladies and gentlemen, today is another special episode of The meez Podcast in that today you're going to hear a talk that I gave at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, aka ICE, and I gave the talk to students in a, well, really a business class, but obviously everything there is culinary focused.


There were students, there was faculty, and wow, they were just so engaged and curious and excited. And I was really honored to be able to speak to the students about everything from the journey of entrepreneurship, the trials and tribulations along the way, what it's like to build a, not just a food tech company, but also, you know, in my past, building restaurants and scaling restaurants.


And then we got really into the weeds on everything related to recipes and food costing and menu engineering and, of course, me's. And I have to tell you, seeing these students, think about the business in new and interesting ways was really inspiring for me. I just have such high hopes for the future of our industry when I see folks like this.


So I was really grateful for the opportunity. And as always, I hope that you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

[00:02:04] Brian Konopka:

Okay. Welcome everyone. Today's guest is the founder and CEO of meez. As most of you know, mise is a term we use in the restaurant world, short for mise en place, roughly translates to everything in its place, and having everything in its place in a kitchen is paramount to any success, so meez is A best in class culinary solution and an application for organizing, scaling, training, and costing, not only recipes, but now also menus for culinary professionals. So please welcome Josh Sharkey.


So Josh, please tell us a little about your early career. What were your initial inspirations for entering The food world?

[00:03:02] Josh Sharkey:

Sure. Well, a little over two decades ago. My father passed away when I was 16. I was already working in restaurants at that time, but I had to start cooking dinners for the family because my mom worked, you know, all day, all night, because she had to support three kids.


So I sort of fell into it, not because it was something that I loved, but because it was more like a necessity. Then I started to really love it, and I would like cook for my friends in high school, and I inadvertently sort of entered a contest for a culinary school scholarship. I had scholarships for wrestling to a bunch of colleges.


And decided I wanted to go cook instead. So I ended up going culinary school because, I'm sorry, I didn't go here. Johnson and Wales happen to have a very good wrestling team. They're now the number one wrestling team in the country for D2. So I ended up there. While in culinary school, I entered another contest that I never thought I would even come close to winning.


I ended up being flown to New York city for the finals. Hadn't really spent much time here as a professional. The judges were Chefs Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Rick Moonen, And, I forget, Rocco Di Spirito ended up winning that contest, so I flew to Norway. Through all of this time, I had not really gotten fully into cooking.


I knew I liked it, but I didn't know what I wanted to do. But in Norway, I worked at this Michelin star restaurant in Oslo and just fell in love right away. You know, I was working 16 hours a day. It was a crazy experience, but so much devotion and such precision and such care. I've never experienced anything like it at that point.


I was 19, I think at that time, or 18, and I was like, this is what I'm doing for the rest of my life. That's how I entered the culinary world. And then I came back to New York City. This was in 2000 and started cooking and I spent about a little over a decade cooking in New York City for some amazing chefs like Rick Moonen at Oceana and Chef Dan Gray Kunz, who's very famous for Lespinasse.


I worked for him at at Cafe Gray for David Bouley and Floyd Cardoz. Sadly, three of those chefs have passed away in the last three years. David Bouley, last week. Chef Floyd Cardoz and Chef Gray Kunz a year, a couple of years ago, been tough to, to see that happen. But my career was pretty much all cooking at the upper echelon of fine dining for the first decade of my life.

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