meez podcast

Gabe Kennedy on The Power of Regenerative Plants and Mushrooms

Rectangle with a white backgound and a photo of Gabe Kennedy

Listen to this episode

About this episode

Gabe Kennedy, a chef, entrepreneur, and all-around amazing individual, takes the spotlight in this week's episode. Gabe's personality and culinary expertise have earned him recognition, including being named a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree in 2020.

With a wealth of experience in some of the most incredible kitchens, Gabe's journey led him to become the Executive Chef at Bon Appétit. Many may also recognize him as the winner of Anthony Bourdain's Cooking Competition Show, "The Taste," featured on Netflix. As a chef partner of Checker Hall in LA, Gabe continues to make a mark in the industry.

However, Gabe's endeavors don't stop there. He is the founder of Plant People, a CPG company specializing in natural health foods like adaptogens, mushrooms, and CBD. He has collaborated with renowned brands such as GQ, Nespresso, HBO, and more to create unforgettable culinary experiences.

Where to find Gabe Kennedy

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(2:03) Gabe's background

(3:06) Gabe's experience on "The Taste" TV Show

(8:08) Running a CPG company and a restaurant

(12:54) Work-life balance and boundaries

(17:28) On being fully present and living in the moment

(21:23) The relationship between creativity and improvement

(26:55) Adaptogens, regenerative plants, and mushrooms

(31:28) Psilocybin benefits and drawbacks

(35:58) Work with media and brands as a chef

(42:12) Sharing your talent and skillset online

(45:04) Making decisions and just going for it


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. 


Today's guest is a chef, entrepreneur, and one of the sweetest guys you'll ever meet. Gabe Kennedy was named a Forbes 30 under 30 in 2020. Gabe spent a bunch of time in some really incredible kitchens before becoming Executive Chef at Bon Appetit, as well as winning Anthony Bourdain's Cooking Competition Show The Taste, which you might have seen on Netflix.


He's the founder of Plant People, a CPG company specializing in natural health foods like adaptogens, mushrooms, and CBD. And he is also a chef partner of Checker Hall in LA. He's worked with a bunch of really incredible brands like GQ and Nespresso and Taiwan Tourism and Botanist Gin, HBO, and a bunch more to create really delicious food and experiences.


Gabe and I got to know each other when we brought him on to consult on a plant-based concept out of New York City, and we became fast friends. I've always loved his really infectious passion for what he does, and as an aside, he's actually a pretty rad musician as well. So we talk about running multiple companies at the same time and why we cook and how to tell your story authentically among many other wide ranging topics as usual. So I hope you enjoy it.


Welcome to the show. Good to see you, man. 

Gabe Kennedy [00:01:45]

Yes. It's good to see you too. Great to see you. 

Josh Sharkey [00:01:48]

Yeah, we talk sometimes, but it's more text. I don't see your beautiful face that often. Well, anyways, let's get started. Mr. Gabe. 

Gabe Kennedy [00:01:54]

Let's get started. Mr. Josh sounds great. 

Josh Sharkey [00:01:57]

For all of the food people out there, everybody in the world that might for some crazy reason not know who you are. I don't know how they wouldn't. Do you wanna share a little background on yourself?

Gabe Kennedy [00:02:03]:

Sure. So for most of the people in the world who have no idea who I am, my name is Gabe Kennedy. I am a chef, entrepreneur, co-founder of a business called Plant People. We create functional foods that are rooted in regenerative agriculture and address some of the most pressing and challenging solutions that we deal with as humans. I'm also a chef partner in a restaurant in Los Angeles called Checker Hall, and we just have a good time over there. So I've spent most of my career in hospitality and food and feel really grateful that I get to engage in the broader food ecosystem.  In the ways that I do and get to talk to people like you

Josh Sharkey [00:02:47]: 

Yeah. I'll add on to that. You're an incredible musician and an empath, I would say one of the most empathetic people I've ever met. You won that show called The Taste a long time ago as well. 

Gabe Kennedy [00:02:58]: 

It's true. Anthony Bourdain. 

Josh Sharkey [00:03:00]: 

How did you get on that show? Yeah, I don't think we ever talked about it. How did that happen? 

Gabe Kennedy [00:03:06]: 

Well, it was almost a decade ago. Wow. But I was, yeah, I was 23 and a girl that I went to hotel school with, Beth was working at Major Food Group and she basically called me up one day and said, I had some casting people hit me up about people within the group. That would be good.


But I thought of you, so you should apply. And I did. And at the time I was working. As a private chef, but also my real job was working with this organic food group that was invested all across the lifestyles of health and sustainability category, the Lohas space, and I was just ready for something different.


And so I applied kinda on the low, and then when I got the word that I could do it, I quit my jobs. I left the private equity group and I left the private chef gig and I flew out to LA. Stayed at the Westin LAX for what was a very long month and had this experience that really changed my life. It was, it was pretty awesome.


Yeah. Really incredible. And a dream come true because Yeah. When I was 14, 13, you know, I started getting interested in working in a restaurant, all because I read Anthony Bourdain's, Kitchen Confidential, and so I got my first gig in an Italian restaurant at the age of 14 and worked through high school predominantly in a sushi restaurant and culinary school, hotel school, and then eventually that show and eventually here now.

Josh Sharkey [00:04:39]: 

Well, you crushed it on the show and Anthony Bourdain had some pretty nice things to say about you. Any reflections on interacting with, with him. I'm sure there was just a cool experience being on that show, but given the impact and who he is, I love to hear any collections you have on just being able to interact with him on the show.

Gabe Kennedy [00:04:56]: 

Yeah, it was an incredible opportunity for me. It was a dream come true because of the story I just shared, but obviously I had, and still do, have so much respect for, you know, sort of the honest voice that was so, and continues to be so unifying. It was just remarkable to not only be in his presence, but also with Marcus Samuelson, with Ludo, with Nigella, all these other talented cooks and put into this pressure chamber of needing to perform and to kind of put my best foot forward.

Read More
Read Less