meez podcast

Todd Duplechan and Jess Maher on Austin’s Dining Scene, Building Lenoir, and Balancing Life as Restaurateurs

Rectangle image with navy background of Todd Duplechan and Jess Maher

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About this episode

#65. In this episode of The meez Podcast, host Josh Sharkey catches up with old friends who are also amazing chefs and incredible restaurateurs. The guests are Jess Maher and Todd Duplechan, a dynamic duo Josh has known for nearly two decades. Their paths first crossed while working together at Bouley and Danube in New York City, and they've remained close ever since.

Listeners will hear them reminisce about their time at renowned restaurants like Bouley, Danube, Gray Kunz’s establishments, and Tabla with Floyd Cardoz. They dive into Jess and Todd's journey to Austin, where they opened their celebrated restaurant, Lenoir. The conversation covers the evolution of the Austin dining scene, the operation of their restaurant, and the challenges and rewards of running a business as a married couple with children.

Josh, Jess, and Todd also touch on their future ventures and how they've adapted to changes in the industry over the years. This episode is filled with insights, laughter, and the warmth of reconnecting with good friends. If you're ever in Austin, a visit to Lenoir is highly recommended—it's truly amazing.

Tune in for an engaging episode that highlights the intersection of friendship, food, and the dynamic world of the restaurant industry.

Where to find Todd Duplechan:

Where to find Jess Maher:

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(02:43): Reminiscing on all the Austin guests on The meez Podcast

(04:27): How Jess and Todd met & family meals

(17:29): The backstory of Lenoir

(25:57): What makes an Austin diner different than a NYC diner

(28:42): How Jess & Todd describe the food at Lenoir

(37:05): Lenoir's CSR program

(48:02): What it's like working together as a couple

(53:36): When to introduce work to kids

(58:25): Being a mom and a business owner

(1:02:43): Other upcoming projects

Transcript

[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.

[00:00:19]

And operate and how they consistently execute at a high level day after day. 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.

[00:00:44]

Hello everyone. Today's show is one of those opportunities where you, to be honest, I just get to catch up with some old friends of mine who happen to be amazing chefs and incredible restaurateurs. This is Jess and Todd Duplichain. Jess and Todd Dupplechan. And I met many years ago, almost two decades ago, I guess.

[00:01:05]

We were working together at Bouley. Well, Jess and I were at Bouley, while Todd was next door at the Danube, another one of Bouley's restaurants. And we've been friends ever since. Worked at other restaurants together with Gray Kunz and with her Floyd Cardoz at Tabla. So it was just good to catch up. We see each other every once in a while when I visit Austin, but it had been a while.

[00:01:24]

But today's conversation, we talk a lot about Austin and why they moved to Austin to open up Lenoir, this incredible restaurant that's been open for, you know what, I don't remember how long, but in a long time, and they're opening up some other spots as well. And we just talked about how they operate their restaurant, how things have changed over the years for the Austin dining scene and as well for them.

[00:01:45]

And yeah, Of course, because they're a married couple, we talk about what that is like running a business while being married, having children. What's funny is, we had a back to back married couple Austin episode lined up. So Tracy and Arjav from Birdie’s, and then Jess and Todd, and we actually split it up just because.

[00:02:03]

We wanted to add some variety, but a lot of similar conversations to the one that we had with Tracy and Arjav, but overall, just a lot of fun catching up with some good friends, just good people, really, really, really great operators. And I hope that each of you, if you have a chance to visit Austin, that you check out Lenoir because it is amazing.

[00:02:23]

And as always, I hope that you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

[00:02:33] Josh Sharkey:

Welcome to the show. I'm excited. You know, it's funny. It's been like an Austin month.

[00:02:39] Jessica Maher:

I know you had Fiore on too. That's what Todd said.

[00:02:43] Josh Sharkey: Yeah. Yeah. I had Fiore on and, and then Tracy and Arjav were coming yesterday. That was such a great time chatting with them. And just this past week I was chatting with this guy, Brian Stubbs.

I don't, I think he might, you might work with him.

[00:02:53] Jessica Maher:

Yeah, we've known him for a very long time. We're like his first client.

[00:02:59] Josh Sharkey:

Oh, that's right. Yeah, He said that.

[00:03:00] Jessica Maher:

Probably his first client.

[00:03:01] Todd Duplechan:

We were everybody's first client.

[00:03:03] Jessica Maher:

We're old now.

[00:03:04] Josh Sharkey:

Well, actually, let's just get into that then because you know what's fun about this is like you for I obviously have like a bunch of people that I know as well, but then I get to learn things I didn't know about you.

[00:03:14] Jessica Maher:

Yeah.

[00:03:14] Josh Sharkey:

And I know Jess that you're from Jersey, which always blows my mind that like you're from Jersey, but actually Nevada.

[00:03:21] Jessica Maher:

I know, but I wasn't raised there. So I feel like I can't, I'm not like classic Jersey. I don't want to stereotype anybody, but I, they're all in my family. So I have a you know, a strong idea of what people from New Jersey are like.

[00:03:35] Josh Sharkey:

Well, I mean, it's a big state too. You know, there's, there's some rural parts.

[00:03:38] Jessica Maher:

It is a big state. Yeah,

[00:03:39] Josh Sharkey:

And Todd, you're from Dallas. I know that.

[00:03:41] Todd Duplechan:

Yeah, I grew up in Dallas.

[00:03:43] Josh Sharkey:

I didn't know about the Cajun background, by the way.

[00:03:44] Todd Duplechan:

Yeah, there's a lot of confusion about me out there on the internet. Everybody's like, you're from Louisiana.

[00:03:50]

I'm not from Louisiana. My family's from, it's kind of like Jess, like I wasn't even born there, but my family's all from Louisiana and I have a very Cajun last name, but I grew up in Dallas in the suburbs.

[00:4:00] Josh Sharkey:

I mean, you know, for the people that are confused, if you just go to Lenoir. com and then you go to the about page, there's a little thing that says Todd's from Dallas. So,

[00:04:09] Jessica Maher:

Nobody goes there.

[00:04:10] Todd Duplechan:

Those internet people, we definitely know from our restaurant because our restaurant to get into is a little bit confusing. And so we put signs everywhere that say entrance, entrance, entrance, and people still can't find the front door. So, we know that people don't read. Laughter.

[00:04:27] Josh Sharkey:

Well. I don't actually remember how you two met. Pretty sure. I think I remember how we met, but how did you guys meet?

[00:04:32] Jessica Maher:

We met at Bouley.

[00:04:34] Josh Sharkey:

I didn't realize that that's actually where you, where you two met. And that was before. Yeah.

[00:04:37] Jessica Maher:

Todd worked at the Danube and you'll probably remember this. There was a shared locker room in the Danube. Yeah. And

[00:04:46] Josh Sharkey:

Lucky if you got an apron.

[00:04:48] Jessica Maher:

Well, I was always in like 2XL jackets.

[00:04:52] Josh Sharkey:

By the way, do you remember when Joe, like there was no chef coats and he just went shirtless? He had an apron and no shirt. He's like, I don't care. There's no, there's no, I brought a nice shirt today. And there's no chef jackets.

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