meez podcast

Kristen Barnett on Creating Good Food at Scale and Starting Culinary Creators Worldwide

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About this episode

Kristen Barnett is a serial entrepreneur and food tech expert who is innovating the way we look at food. Kristen shares insights on her journey, from launching Hungry House, an NYC-based anti-ghost kitchen, to co-founding new company, Culinary Creators Worldwide, a media and marketing agency for food creators. Previously COO at Zuul, a food tech company acquired by Kitchen United, Kristen's career spans restaurant operations, distribution, and customer engagement. Join us on this episode as we explore the evolution of her commitment to "good food at scale," from agriculture at Cornell to scaling culinary visions worldwide.

Where to find Kristen Barnett:

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(03:08) Kristen's background

(04:38) Kristen's transition to hospitality

(09:16) Cornell's hospitality program

(17:21) Lyme disease and thinking of food as medicine

(28:03) Good food at scale(32:00) How to tell a good story with food and businesses

(34:29) Honoring the food voices in social media

(40:50) Culinary Creators Worldwide

(47:22) How life has changed for Kristen since launching a media marketing company

(49:41) Ghost and virtual kitchens right now

(55:00) The biggest Challenges and surprises over the years from starting multiple companies


[00:00:05] Josh Sharkey:

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.

[00:00:31] Josh Sharkey:

My guest today is a serial entrepreneur devoting much of her career to what we call good food at scale, which we talk a lot about today on the show. Kristen Barnett is the co founder of Culinary Creators Worldwide, a multi disciplined media and marketing agency supporting food brands and creators.

She's also the founder of Hungry House, an NYC based, self proclaimed anti ghost kitchen that partners with food creators and chefs to launch new food brands and concepts. And prior to this, [00:01:00] she was the COO of this food tech company called Zuul, which was acquired by Kitchen United, which was a combination ghost kitchen plus delivery technology.

And before that she ran strategy ops and supply chain for the multi unit fast casual spot, DIG, formerly known as DIG. DIG INN. Having had the pleasure of getting to know Kristen over the last five years or so, I can tell you that she has an unbelievable work ethic and this steadfast commitment to that notion of good food at scale we mentioned before.

Seeing the progression of her career manifesting this vision from agriculture when she was at Cornell, to restaurant operations and supply chain at DIG, to distribution and customer engagement at Zuul and then Hungry House, and now storytelling and helping others. scale their culinary vision with culinary creators worldwide has been really incredible to see.

And among all that, she and I also spend a little time, a little therapy, if you will, talking about the ups and downs and the good and bad of being a founder today. So as always, I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

[00:02:12] Josh Sharkey

It is so nice to see you.

[00:02:12] Kristen Barnett:

It's great to see you. Yeah.

[00:02:16] Josh Sharkey:

I feel like this is just an extension, actually, of us, you know, meeting up and having conversations all the time.

[00:02:21] Kristen Barnett:

It's the same thing. Here we are.

[00:02:22] Josh Sharkey: Yeah. How have you been?

[00:02:21] Kristen Barnett:

Been good. I've been really good. Yeah. Exciting things are happening.

[00:02:29] Josh Sharkey:

Yeah. We have a lot to talk about today.

I will sort of, like, treat this just like one of our, you know, normal conversations, but I'll tee up a few things that I was hoping we could make sure we dig into.

[00:02:39] Kristen Barnett:


[00:02:40] Josh Sharkey:

One, your background, because I started learning a little bit more about it. And even though you're now running a media and marketing company, I still want to talk a little bit about restaurants.

[00:02:49] Kristen Barnett:


[00:02:50] Josh Sharkey:

Most kitchens.

[00:02:51] Kristen Barnett:

Of course.

[00:02:52] Josh Sharkey:

And technology. And then, of course, we'll dig into Culinary Creators Worldwide. I'll say CCW moving forward.

[00:02:57] Kristen Barnett:

CCW, yeah. Easy

[00:02:59] Josh Sharkey:

And then if we have time, I'd love to tell a little bit about just like, you know, being a founder. Maybe we can do some, some co-therapy together. Yeah.

[00:03:05] Kristen Barnett:

I'll take it anytime.

[00:03:08] Josh Sharkey:

Okay, so you grew up on a nature reserve, if I'm correct.

[00:03:10] Kristen Barnett:

Yeah, yeah.

[00:03:11] Josh Sharkey:

And I don't know much after that until you went to Cornell to study agriculture, not hospitality, which I thought was interesting. And then you went to the Boston Consulting Group. You were obviously a DIG for a very long time, running strategic ops and supply chain, things like that. Then you went to Zuul as the COO. Then you started a couple of companies, which we're going to talk about, but that's my high level here's Kristen, but maybe you fill in the blanks a little bit and tell us a little bit of stuff.

[00:03:42] Kristen Barnett:

Sure, why not? Yeah, that's pretty much the bones of it. Grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. One stoplight, you know, playing with salamanders in the woods, pretty much.

[00:03:55] Josh Sharkey:

Stoplights and not  roundabouts. Interesting.

[00:03:57] Kristen Barnett:

Yeah, yeah. One, just one stoplight. And I, from there, really wanted to like expand out. I needed to get out and ultimately Cornell was the best way to do that. Literally visiting the college campus. It felt like a city. Like, I thought it was a city. It, for me, felt so massive and like awe inspiring that it was obviously super thrilled to go. I originally was going to be an engineer. I was obsessed with math and physics and astronomy and like, all of that, building telescopes. And,

[00:04:37] Josh Sharkey:

What kind of engineer did you want to be?

[00:04:38] Kristen Barnett:

I didn't really know. I wanted to explore it. But that was cut pretty short after going to the engineering school and realizing like I wasn't going to interact with humans very much during the course of my studies. And so I thought, where else can I do math and like use this skill that I have, but also


interact with people and like leverage that part of my skill set. And that obviously ended up turning me more towards business and economics. So I actually originally started in arts and sciences, studying econ, then transferred to the agriculture school where they have the undergrad business program. And so that was my path through there and not in the hospitality school, contrary to what seemed like it would make more sense.

[00:05:25] Josh Sharkey:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I heard somewhere also that your favorite class was about grocery stores.

[00:05:30] Kristen Barnett:


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