meez podcast

Elizabeth Meltz on Effective Restaurant Operations & Leadership

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About this episode

#53. This week, we're joined by a distinguished entrepreneur, activist, public speaker, mediator, chef, and a key figure in the hospitality industry, Elizabeth Meltz. Elizabeth shines not only through her involvement on the boards of various organizations championing the hospitality sector and women's empowerment but also as the founder of EM PATH, a company dedicated to refining leadership, culture, and management in hospitality and beyond.

With over a decade of experience with the Batali and Bastianich group, along with pivotal roles at B&B Hospitality, Eataly, and Dig In, she has deeply influenced sustainability, environmental health, and food safety within the hospitality realm.

This episode takes you through a thoughtful conversation about what defines exceptional leadership, the challenges of leadership in the restaurant sector, and her ambitions for advancing leadership education within hospitality. We discuss her impactful journey, from delivering a TED talk to establishing Women in Hospitality United during a period of significant turmoil, and her efforts in creating organizations that broadly support the hospitality industry.

From our first in-person meeting in New York, where we discovered the depths of her background, to an exchange of impactful books (which we'll detail in the notes), this discussion is packed with educational insights, inspiring stories, and enjoyable moments.

Geared towards professionals in the field and enthusiasts passionate about leadership, communication, and hospitality, this episode offers a comprehensive look at the industry through the eyes of a visionary.

Where to find Elizabeth Meltz:

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

Books Mentioned in This Episode:

  1. High Output Management By Andrew Grove
  2. One Minute Manager By Ken Blanchard
  3. The Art of Gathering By Priya Parker
  4. Thanks for the Feedback By Douglas Stone
  5. You're Not Listening By Kate Murphy
  6. Why Won't You Apologize By Harriet Lerner
  7. Radical Candor By Kim Scott
  8. Endurance By Alfred Lansing
  9. Five Days at Memorial By Sheri Fink
  10. Elon Musk By Walter Isaacson
  11. Ben Franklin By Walter Isaacson

What We Cover

(04:10) Elizabeth's background in the restaurant industry
(07:44) Elizabeth's role in creating food safety procedures
(11:24) Oyster Sunday & Drive Change
(13:48) Elizabeth's Superpower & EM PATH
(22:42) Mediation in all its forms
(30:29) DISC Assessments
(35:45) Circle keeping
(41:59) Making team success your KPI
(52:25) OKRs
(59:37) Women In Hospitality United
(1:04:39) Elizabeth's experience with TED Talks


[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 an entrepreneur. She's an activist. She's a public speaker. She's a mediator. She's a chef. She's a hospitality professional. She's on the board of a number of amazing organizations supporting the hospitality industry and supporting women. She recently founded a company called EM PATH, which is solving the leadership, culture, and management problems for not just hospitality companies, but definitely has a focus on hospitality companies.


She also is the co founder of Women in Hospitality United, which supports, you guessed it, women. I actually specifically remember when she first launched this project and organized some incredible female professionals at Haven's Kitchen here in New York City. She spent about 11 years, I think, 11 or 12 years for the Batali and Bastianich group.


And she has all these roles throughout her career at B&B Hospitality, Eataly, Dig In, and a number of places where she's doing things that revolve around sustainability, you know, and environmental health, food safety, things like that. So I was super curious, like, what does that actually mean? And how do you sort of implement that into organizations?


We met in person in New York at our office. And it was just such a pleasure to one, get to know Elizabeth because it was the first time we got to meet in person and learn about her background. And most importantly, we just spent most of the time talking about what it means to be a great leader, what typically happens in restaurants that causes us to not be as great of a leader or a leadership team as we could be.


Why the hospitality industry in general maybe has not had as much leadership education as we should. and why she's hopefully helping to change that. We also talked a bit about how she ended up giving a TED talk many years ago, and what that was like, what it was like to found a company like Women in Hospitality United during a very tumultuous time.


And generally just, you know, all of her experiences around building a number of really incredible organizations that are supporting the hospitality industry at large. I learned a lot. We swapped a whole bunch of books that we are most definitely going to read, which we'll share in the notes. And generally speaking, it was a really informative, educational, and just enjoyable experience.


So as always, I hope that you enjoy the conversation.


So welcome back, even though now we are officially live again. I don't know if we recorded because I screwed something up and our little recorder didn't have batteries. But anyways,

[00:03:24] Elizabeth Meltz:

We're good.

[00:03:25] Josh Sharkey:

And we were saying some things off air that

[00:03:28] Elizabeth Meltz:

A lot of mea culpa is coming from you. Yes.

[00:03:30] Josh Sharkey:

No one should hear illegally, but welcome again, uh, in case this didn't get recorded.


I want to say one more time that, uh, like I said, I've been following your career for a while. I really just love everything that you've been doing. But when I heard that you were launching EM PATH, I was like, holy shit, I want to learn about this. And that's why you're here today, among other reasons. So can you just do the obligatory, tell everybody about your brand?

[00:03:54] Elizabeth Meltz:

Yes. I just don't know how far back to go.

[00:03:56] Josh Sharkey:

Well, you might not need to go back to like Rome when you were cooking in little restaurants Italiana, like that kind of stuff.

[00:04:03] Elizabeth Meltz:

Did your research. Yeah. That's easy.

[00:04:05] Elizabeth Meltz:


[00:04:06] Josh Sharkey:

But you know, you went to, after that, you went to work for a B&B Hospitality. Yes. Yeah.

[00:04:10] Elizabeth Meltz:

Yeah. I mean. Going back just a tiny bit, I was like an art history major, fell in love with food, Italian wine, and culture.


And ended up cooking in Italy for a little bit, and

[00:04:19] Josh Sharkey:

Isn't that the same trajectory of Mario? Sort of, actually,

[00:04:25] Elizabeth Meltz:

I was born in Jersey, he was not, but he went to Rutgers, so there's some Jersey connect there too. But, I just, once I found food, I was like, it doesn't matter where I go, and you mentioned like, publishing, whatever, but You know, I was at Del Posto, which was Mario, Lydia, and Joe's first sort of joint venture, and it had Mark Ladner as the executive chef, who was sort of a celebrity chef in and of his own right, and it just had a lot of eyes on it.


And I was working in the kitchen, and there was just so much, and at the time I spoke, my Italian was excellent. There was so much I would see, like, that wasn't translated well on the menu, or I would, you know, I watched one of the sous chefs who was in charge of payroll, somebody came up to him and was like, I forgot to clock out today, and he did the, like, obligatory, like, Pressed the receipt thing, took a scrap piece of paper and wrote like Johnny 5 pm.

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