meez podcast

Chef Evan Hennessey of The Living Room and Stages

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About this episode

#43. Chef Evan Hennessey is one of those chefs who is extremely passionate and devoted to not only moving the culinary industry forward, but also supporting up and coming chefs. Chef Hennessey is an award winning chef, 3 time Chopped Champion, and James Beard semifinalist who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu at the Atlantic Culinary Academy in 2001. He has since cooked alongside some of the best chef’s in the country including Chef Charlie Palmer and Thomas Keller at Per Se.

Chef Hennessey is the Chef Owner at The Living Room and Stages At One Washington in Dover, New Hampshire. In this episode, he shares his passion for advancing the culinary industry and supporting emerging talents.

Josh and Chef Hennessey discuss his"Staging At Stages" program, where chefs experience an apprenticeship unlike any other. Forget peeling potatoes or cleaning mushrooms for days—participants work side by side with Evan for five days, cooking everything together. The culmination? A meal of their inspiration, with 50 percent of the proceeds shared with the aspiring chef.

In this intimate conversation, our host and Evan discus Evan's approach to hiring, training, and navigating kitchen mishaps as well as how he seamlessly integrates guests and the team into the dining experience at Stages and The Living Room.

Where to find Evan Hennessey:




**Read about  The A Method For Hiring**

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:




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Who - a Method for Hiring

What We Cover

(03:50) Why Evan chose to come back to New Hampshire/the lifestyle of people in New Hampshire

(09:11) The variety of mushrooms found in forests outside of houses in Upstate New York and New Hampshire

(11:26) Culinary maturity

(16:13) All about The Living Room and Stages

(19:13) The history of staging and how Evan is innovating it with Staging at Stages

(36:56) How Evan thinks about hiring a team

(45:09) How Evan balances providing like autonomy of thought in the execution of the food with his team

(50:27) Why people work at Living Room and Stages

(56:25) How to apply for the staging program

(58:54) Where Evan will be in 5-10 years


[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.


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.


My guest today is the chef and owner of, “Stages in the Living Room” in Dover, New Hampshire, Evan Hennessey. And this was such an awesome conversation. Evan is a James Beard semi finalist and three time chop champion. But what's really evident when you get to know him more is that he is incredibly passionate and devoted to moving the culinary industry forward and supporting up and coming chefs.


So much so that he started a really killer program called, “Staging At Stages”. If you don't know what staging is, it's essentially like an apprenticeship where a chef can come and work for a day or two days or a week, uh, you know, depending on how long. Typically unpaid, sometimes paid, but. In this case, the program, the chef comes and works alongside Evan at the restaurant for five days, cooking everything together.


And this is not typical of a stage. Typically, you would, you know, be peeling potatoes or, you know, cleaning mushrooms or something for days on end. But here you're working directly alongside him. So you learn a lot. And then at the end, you create a meal of your inspiration and 50 percent of the proceeds are shared with the stagiaire.


So, Evan and I spend a lot of time talking about the approaches to hiring and training talent and how to deal with mistakes made in the kitchen. The restaurant is really intimate and Evan clearly loves to bring the guest and the team into the experience and there's really interesting ways in which he's doing that at Stages.


You can learn more about the stash program in the show notes. We'll give you a link to where you can even apply if you're interested. So as always, I love the conversation and I hope that you enjoy the show as much as I did.

[00:02:15] Josh Sharkey:

We're live, by the way. So welcome to the podcast.

[00:02:19] Evan Hennessey:

Nice. Hey, hi.

[00:02:21] Josh Sharkey:

I'm stoked to have you on, man, and, um, I'm just gonna kind of dig in if that's cool. I'm gonna move locations. Yeah, yeah, do your thing.

[00:02:28] Evan Hennessey:

You follow me through my home, give you a tour. There we go. There's my wife over there, working away. Hello. Give you a nice outdoor, actually, I'll show you.

[00:02:37] Evan Hennessey:

This is what I'm talking about. You can kind of see. That's what we're dealing with outside right now. Oh, yeah.

[00:02:41] Josh Sharkey:

Gee, that's, is that ice?

[00:02:44] Evan Hennessey:

No, that's snow. And it's like some of the stuff on the deck is like kind of iced over, but it's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the dogs love it. I'll tell you that.

[00:02:56] Josh Sharkey:

Uh, yeah, my dog is obsessed with the snow. Oh, they love it.

[00:02:59] Evan Hennessey:

Yeah. They're like, they roll in it. They lay in it. They eat it. I mean, I would be psyched if I were a dog. He's like, Oh, all of a sudden you can start.

[00:03:05] Josh Sharkey:

What kind of dog do you have?

[00:03:08] Evan Hennessey:

I've got three. Uh, the one that's right here hanging out with me.

This is Ellie. Yeah. So she's, uh, yeah, she's an Australian Kelpie, and then we have a blue healer, and then we have, uh, Issa, who is a shepherd husky. She's our little, she's our little one.

[00:03:24] Josh Sharkey:

Wait, do you have, how many kids do you have?

[00:03:30] Evan Hennessey:

Uh, three. Jeez, Yeah, yeah. Well, one is, one is much, yeah, one is much older, and then two are the, uh, 12 and 15.

[00:03:35] Josh Sharkey:

That's nuts, man. That's nuts. Good for you. We have a, we have an English bulldog, but he kind of just lays around all day.

[00:03:44] Evan Hennessey:

I think you were saying that before.

[00:03:45] Josh Sharkey:

Yeah. Yeah. So it's, uh, you know, it's like a little baby. Yeah, they

[00:03:50] Evan Hennessey:

Yeah, they are. They totally are.

[00:03:53] Josh Sharkey:

Anyways, let's, let's dig in, man. Yeah. Stoked to have you on.

The first thing I was actually really curious about, I don't remember we actually talked about it, but you know, obviously you worked at a bunch of awesome spots in New York, Per Se, and Cafe Boulud, and Torrisi, and uh, I think you obviously also worked in Chicago, like Trio, is that right? Trio, correct. Yeah, and you know, what brought you back to New Hampshire?


Because you are born and raised in New Hampshire, right? And then you left, and why'd you come back?

[00:04:18] Evan Hennessey:

Oh, it's such an easy question. It's, uh, and it's one that I love to say, it's just, um, I mean, obviously the fact that like I grew up and was raised here, like, I love this area, I love small towns, I love the access to, uh, the mountains and the ocean, big cities are great, but I'm definitely not a city boy at all.


And I need my, I need this, you know, I just kind of showed you the, the outside is like, we have, you know, four acres off in the forest and like, this is what I need. This is, you know, good for me. And that's why, that's honestly why it was like, I like the way that the sort of small town, New England is, it's a, it's a super great feel for me.


And yeah, I mean, I really just, I need to be near the ocean and the mountains to be  able to get through pretty quickly.

[00:04:56] Josh Sharkey:

I lived in Nantucket for a while and I lived in Ireland, but I know nothing about New Hampshire. I imagine there's probably a large cohort of people in America that don't, what should we know about New Hampshire and maybe because there's so many things, just like, what should we know about New Hampshire as it relates to the culinary landscape and then just like nature, you know, because it sounds like it's pretty pristine.

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