meez podcast

Franklin Becker on Cultivating Talented Kitchen Teams

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About this episode

With a successful 30-year career in the culinary world, Franklin Becker is not only a talented  and award-winning chef, but also an inspiring leader and kind-hearted individual.

Currently, Franklin is the founder of F. Becker Hospitality, which includes several thriving restaurants such as the Press Club in New York City and Oliva Tapas.  Beyond his culinary achievements, Franklin is the culinary chair for Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, an event that supports autism.

In this podcast episode, Franklin discusses his remarkable ability to cultivate talented kitchen teams and create new businesses. Franklin's approach is focused on building leaders rather than managers, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment among his team members.

Throughout the conversation, Josh highlights Franklin's kindness and willingness to help others, which has been a defining trait throughout his career. They touch on the importance of community and how Franklin actively brings people together, both within his organization and the wider culinary industry.

Where to find Franklin Becker: 

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(3:50) How Franklin got into cooking

(6:44) Why Franklin is a chef

(8:13) What is Franklin’s superpower?

(12:19) How Franklin empowers his team

(16:35) How having a child with autism shaped Franklin’s leadership style

(21:13) Finding inspiration from all people

(27:02) Shaping the talents of future generations

(30:08) Learning to give up control as a leader

(32:10) Leaders versus managers

(39:07) The biggest life lessons Franklin’s learned over the years

(45:06) Franklin’s vision for his businesses

(47:50) The inspiration behind Press Club


Josh Sharkey [00:00:00]: 

Welcome to The meez Podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, the culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, I'll be interviewing world-class entrepreneurs in the food space that are shifting the paradigm of how we innovate and operate in our industry. Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy the show. 


My guest today is chef, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Franklin Becker. Franklin has had a successful 30 year history in the culinary world and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I met Franklin about 15 years ago while we were both working on some new projects, and his willingness to go out of his way to help was really inspiring and he continues to do that to this day.


He's won a ton of awards and been on shows like Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef. And he's currently the founder of F. Becker Hospitality, which includes a bunch of restaurants like the Press Club in New York City, as well as Oliva Tapas and a handful of other concepts in this area called Manhattanville in a ghost kitchen setting.


And they're all really thriving. I've always been really enamored of Franklin's ability to cultivate and curate talented kitchen teams as well as continually create new businesses. And he's got a ton of them. He's also the culinary chair for Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, which is a really incredible event that supports autism.


And in our conversation, we dig into the spectrum of autism and the impact that it's had on him. His son is autistic and he's learned a ton from it, and I think it's actually made him a better leader, a better chef, a better person. So we dig into that as well as building great teams and why Franklin doesn't want to create managers, he wants to create leaders. So I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Welcome to the pod man. I was really excited to have you on, and I don't even remember the last time I actually saw you in person, but I don't think we've ever had a chance to talk about this because we met for the first time I think like 13 years ago at a co-packing kitchen or something like that in Brooklyn or Queens or something. You were working on a gluten-free brand of some kind. One of the many businesses that you run.  

Franklin Becker [00:02:17]: 

It was Brooklyn and you were doing the hotdogs. 

Josh Sharkey [00:02:20]: 

Yeah, it was Bark. Yeah, we were doing some, we were like making a bunch of relishes. Well, I'm framing that for today because obviously we're gonna talk a lot about cooking today, cuz you're a chef. I think that most people maybe don't realize how much more than just a chef you are. That's what has always touched me so much, like that you are in every sense of the word, an entrepreneur. It's been inspiring for me, like for the first time I met you, and then obviously I've seen you in many roles. We've crossed paths many times throughout the years, but I've always seen you as very fearless and ambitious and most importantly just a kind person. You happen to be a great chef. 

Franklin Becker [00:02:59]

How about crazy? 

Josh Sharkey [00:03:01]

You're a chef and you run restaurants. That's by default. You can't be that and not be crazy as well. But, you know, I wanted to say to you, frankly, before we get started, that your kindness, I think, is something that comes through first, at least for me. Everything else that I know about you, I've ever, ever known about you. And I don't know how many people think of you that way, but the first thing I think of when I think of Franklin is just like this overly kind and sweet person who's always going out of his way to help.


So thank you for that. But you know, to wind everybody up, I think a lot of people probably know who you are, but maybe just give a little background on yourself and you know, how you came to where you are today. 

Franklin Becker [00:03:50]: 

Oh my God. I'm 53, but thanks. Thanks for the kind words. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Ocean Parkway. Midwood. And I think that being born and raised in Brooklyn really shaped me. It is such a diverse borough that just has so many different pockets.


Incredible cultural experiences and you go from area to area and you, you know, you could drive a couple of blocks, you could walk a couple of blocks and you're in a whole different area. That's what makes Brooklyn so unique and so amazing and you know, I was always inspired by food early. My mom had a stroke when I was seven, so I was kind of her hands in the kitchen.


And she was paralyzed on one side of her body. So I was kind of just helping her and I just never left. And then by 14 I was in a professional kitchen doing the typical things, you know, washing dishes, busing, and then eventually prepping and went to college and did all the cooking in the fraternity and everything else, and just started working in restaurants again and just experiencing it and deciding that that was the course of action that I wanted to take, and I went to the Culinary Institute of America after graduating college, and the rest is history.

Josh Sharkey [00:05:22]: 

What made you decide, I know I went to college, that's fine. I got a degree, but I'm gonna go cook instead. 

Franklin Becker [00:05:29]:

I just loved the feeling that it gave me to make other people happy with what I was doing. You know, ultimately the most important thing I think we have as chefs is the ability to transcend people's lives in a meaningful way.

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