July 27, 2022

The Recipe Tool That Helps Save Time, Cut Costs and Improve Execution - with Meez Founder Josh Sharkey

The Recipe Tool That Helps Save Time, Cut Costs and Improve Execution - with Meez Founder Josh Sharkey

This week's guest is Josh Sharkey. He's the founder of Meez, an online recipe tool that helps you save time, cut costs and improve execution. Josh talks about how he started Meez, and gives a rundown of its functions and how it works.

Josh has a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University, and has worked in some of the best restaurants in the U.S. Besides an overview of Meez, we also discuss the customer experience, how he built and grew his business, some of his favorite resources, and what he wished he knew before starting his buisness.

JOSH SHARKEY & MEEZ
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Transcript
Chris Spear:

Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. Their caterers, research chefs, personal chefs cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers, and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fell into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. Hello, everyone. I hope you're doing well. On today's podcast, I have Josh Sharkey. He's the founder of Meez, a website that helps chefs organize their recipes. You know, when I have guests like this on the show, I don't want it to be like an infomercial. I only try and bring on guests who actually have products that I use and enjoy and that are really beneficial. One of the cornerstones of this podcast and organization is to really highlight things that I think are going to help you build and grow your businesses. What I love about Meez, is it's an online tool that you can put your recipes into, it makes it super easy to scale them, cost them and even share them. It's nice because you can give access to your team so that they can look at them. If your personal chef, you can also share them with customers so that they can look at them, but not edit them. And unlike a lot of these kinds of programs, you can actually use mes for free. And yes, there are paid plans that have some great functions. But if you're looking for a place to just put your recipes in and have them so they're easily accessible wherever you are, if you've got a computer and the Internet, music is a great tool for that. And because this is a business podcast, you know, we also talk about business, Josh is a chef went to culinary school. So he has a background he has worked in some of the best restaurants in the country. So a lot of that informed me's. He's not one of these tech guys who hasn't worked in the industry, he has so much restaurant experience. So we also touch on things like the customer experience, launching and growing his business, some of his favorite tools and resources, and what he wished he knew before starting his business. I hope you enjoy this episode, go check out Meez website at getmeez.com. And of course, all the links will be in the show notes. Thanks so much for listening and have a great week. Hey, Josh, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Josh Sharkey:

Hello there, Chris.

Chris Spear:

It's really cool to have you on the show. I think it was so funny that we actually randomly met in person a couple of weeks ago, I had already been in contact with you about coming on the show and then to just bump over a cup of coffee and some breakfast at Indy chef week. I thought it was really cool. Well, let's just jump right into it. Right. So I usually start with culinary backstory. I want to hear a little bit about you growing up as far as it relates to food and cooking. How did you get into food and cooking? You know, is it something you always wanted to do? Did you have dreams of being a chef opening a restaurant or did you just kind of find your way into it?

Josh Sharkey:

Well, originally I've just found my way into because my my father passed away when I was 16 and so I still sort of cooking for the family because my mom would work late nights and, you know, it's just sort of a necessity. And then it turned into like an interest. Where I was I would start cooking on the weekends for fun with my friends. And I originally thought I would go to college for wrestling and a couple scholarships for that. And then it turns out that Johnson and Wales had a really good wrestling program. And I entered this contest and won a scholarship to Johnson and Wales, so ended up going there. And it wasn't actually even at Johnson, Wales, I think, where I, where it really clicked like, Oh, this is what I want to do. I eventually entered a different contest that I ended up winning, they flew me to New York for the finals. And I had there's some incredible chefs that were the judges Eric repair Marcus, Samuelsson Rick Moody and Rockford spirit Oh, and, and ended up winning that so they flew me to Norway, got to travel the country of Norway, as a very young, I was 19 with the chef's and ended up cooking at some incredible restaurants there. And that's where I was like, Oh, this is this is what I want to do the rest of my life. This is awesome. You know, just being in these Michelin star restaurants and seeing the difference between cooking there and somewhere else. And just it was just incredible and so inspiring. And that's that's what really sort of like clicked for me. That turned me into a cookbook board.

Chris Spear:

timeframe. Where was that? Were you in culinary school? Like was it when you were going to culinary school when you also did this contest that kind of lineup that way.

Unknown:

It was like the end of culinary school like the I mean, I did an associate's degree. So it was a short stint of culinary school, but literally right at the end. And so I think it was to the year 2000, like middle of 2000 is when I was when I ended up going to Norway. And I moved to New York, literally right after that.

Chris Spear:

So what jobs did you do when you got to New York? Where are you going for the high end restaurants?

Unknown:

Yeah, so that's, that's really all I've done up until I start my own businesses. So right when I got to New York, I started working for Chef Rick Moonen, at a restaurant called OCEANA. From there I went and worked at John George for a little bit. And then I went to Italy for a while, came back started working for Chef Floyd cardoz And Danny Meyer in Tableau. And then I went to this restaurant called Boulais. there for a while. And then it went to work for a great concert at Cafe Cornwell. So that was the span of about 10 or 12 years. And then I opened my own restaurants,

Chris Spear:

all amazing chefs and restaurants, did you see any kind of commonalities? I'm always interested in how especially high end restaurants operate? What are some of the common threads with those chefs and how those places operate? Because they're at a whole different level? Did you see things that they all kind of had in common, whether it be like, how they manage their staff, the creative process, anything that kind of stood out to you that that you maybe even then took when you went to open your own businesses?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, I think at the end of the day, product and service are really everything right. So that's was probably what helped a lot of those restaurants become successful is that product is obviously always top of mind. And so of service. And, you know, I'm a chef, so it's tough to say this, but you know, at the end of the day, like, really incredible service can actually, you know, help to offset not so great of a product or maybe a product that isn't like the the best, you know, of its of its class. And when you have both obviously, that's when, you know, that's when things really, really shine, I think that the the most important thing, and it happens more now. But in general, what is like vital? Is it just know what your customers want, I think that there's a tendency to sort of like Cook, based on what you think is, is right, and you want to do that, but at the same time, you're cooking for people that that are gonna come eat your food, and you have to be mindful that and empathetic to it. And that's typically what I see is like a common thread of success is when you're listening, listening to what your customers want, what they don't want, how they want it. And it makes you better as a chef as well.

Chris Spear:

There is a fine line there because sometimes the customer doesn't know what they want, like in terms of cuisine, right? Like if I asked, I asked my customers like, what do you like, what don't you like, and your customers might come and say, I love chicken parmesan. I like lasagna. I like chicken alfredo. It's like, well, like, that's not what I want to cook. Right? So how do I take that and distill that out into something that they're going to enjoy, but something that they couldn't make? Like, um, you know, as a personal chef, I'm not looking to just recreate whatever your favorite dishes at the Olive Garden are, you know, so how do I then say, Okay, well, I hear that you like that. But then also, I think you're gonna love this thing. And it's something they've never even heard of, you know, it's the same with businesses. You talk about startups. And, you know, a lot of times a business wants to Facebook, nobody asked for Facebook, right? Like, if you ask people like what they wanted, they're not going to tell you that all these super innovative companies came up with their own thing. So I guess it's kind of distilling out what you hear people say they want what you see a need for and then kind of finding a common ground if that makes sense.

Unknown:

It's funny because it's it's very similar to to starting a you know, a startup that is you, you have to know what questions to ask and you have to know what answers not to sort of hold as much weight to because you're not looking for what you're not looking for as the solution, you know, you're not looking for them to tell you, I want this type of cuisine that does this, you know, in the startup world, it's what are the problems that you have? And that you don't need to tell me the solution? I'm going to come up with that. That's, that's my job. You just need to tell me what what are your pains? And as a customer in the food world, same thing like, what do you want, like? Well, I always find that like, I never know when something is spicy, or not, or I never know if like if something is going to be too rich or and you can take that and sort of run with it. Like, you don't want to let the customer be too prescriptive. But you do want to understand what is the pain point like it the classic sort of cliche thing is like Henry Ford saying, If I asked everybody what they wanted, at this time in history, they would have said faster horses. And it's the same thing, right? So you need to be careful about what type of information you're pulling, because you want to solve problems, not just, you know, take, you know, word for word, what customers are saying, because you're right, sometimes they don't know what they want. And sometimes they might think they do. And then once you sort of give them what inference you've taken from their, like, their concerns, it'll usually sort of work out anyway, in the end anyways.

Chris Spear:

So before you started mes, there was a period where you, you know, you're working as a cook chef in restaurants, you opened your own places, what was the reasoning behind that? Like, did you always want to open a place? And what were these places that you were then opening on your own?

Unknown:

Yeah, I've always wanted to, to own a business. And I think, I never thought that I would start a fast casual restaurant, you know, I came from the fine dining world in the upper echelon of fine dining. And so I always thought that I would be opening a fine dining restaurant, right around 2008 was when I decided, Okay, I'm going to start my restaurant. And you know, I was considering a fine dining restaurant. But for anybody that was around, then 2008 was a crash, a financial crash, and, you know, not a great time to be doing really, really high end food and high cost food. And so we had this other concept that we've been thinking about my business partner and I, and he has put restaurants in San Francisco now. And the idea was just to sort of fill this void of really good food that's approachable. Using the same techniques that we know from the fine dining world and the same products from like farmers and things, but doing it in, in a type of sort of cuisine that you wouldn't be used to seeing it like fast casual. In this case, it was like American fast casual, like hotdogs and sandwiches and burgers and things. At the time, that was very novel that didn't exist. Now. It's everywhere. It's ubiquitous, but but at the time, it was very novel. And so that's that we just sort of decided that was the better route to go for a business. And then at

Chris Spear:

some point, you decided you were going to start mes? So let's talk about that. Because that's really why I want to have you on the show. I want to hear about this company, you started kind of the background in it. So what is mes? And how did you get there from where you were? Well, it

Unknown:

means is really the culmination of all the things that I sort of we're, we're slowly developed these frustrations over over the course of the last 20 years of being a cook. And then being a chef, and running kitchens. And then starting a business and running a business and building a team and training a team and then running a very large Restaurant Group. And, you know, and having multi unit brands and all these sort of like pain points that just kept developing. And I mean, the impetus originally kit, honestly was I lost the notebook in like 2002. And I was working for Jeff Floyd at Tableau and I. And I was working for free for Mario Batali, making salumi in the mornings. And I had this notebook of all the recipes and humidity and temperatures and times and ideas and all kinds, everything, everything you could think of, and I lost that notebook. And so the novel idea originally was like, I want to digitize all my recipes. And then over the course of 15 more years, there's all these other things that are like, oh, we need this, we need this, we need this. And finally, after about eight years of running my restaurants, I realized like, Okay, I'm gonna have a much bigger impact on the industry. If I can give this back, as opposed to just, you know, my restaurants and so divested from the restaurants and started working on mes. And MES is essentially, our digital tool, digital tool for food professionals. You know, I think, you know, the frustration I've had, at a very high level, like a 30,000 foot level is that, as food professionals, the only technology we have in the kitchen is inventory software. And like what the heck, like, you know, that recipes are way more than just like a list of ingredients for a cost. Those are important, and you need that. And it needs to be way easier than it isn't an inventory system. But there's so much more that we do in terms of training and collaboration and r&d, and, you know, scaling batches, like the way that we actually need to scale them and converting units and distributing your recipes and sharing them and all the things that we do that we need allergens, and you know, we need to understand the cost of our recipes and that needs to be really easy. So Mises essentially the culinary operating system for any food professional doesn't matter if you're running a multi unit Restaurant Group or if you're a private chef, or you're a culinary student or you have a catering company. Mes is intended to be where all your recipes Live. And then there's lots of really cool stuff that you can do with your recipes once they're in there. And we make it really easy to get the recipes into these, which is really important as well. I feel the

Chris Spear:

pain of losing a notebook even though I digitized you know, early on, I was putting my recipes in like Word documents, I used to keep them on a lanyard on a jump drive. And one time I left that in a computer somewhere, and it was taken and never returned. And you're just like, even though I thought that would be a lot safer and a lot easier. I kept it like around my neck like it was the submarine nuclear launch keys or something. And just one time I left it in a jumped the jump drive in a computer and someone yanked it. Yeah. And that was it. Yeah, I've used some of the software. You know, I used to work at Sodexo. So you know, they have a lot of operating systems that maybe many restaurants don't. So I'm very familiar with using like these things where you've got the recipes and the scaling, I find the scaling to always be clunky, you know, like we've made crabcakes for four people. And then you scale it up to 100. And now that two teaspoons of Old Bay is like four cups of Old Bay, and it just like gets blown out, is there a way that your scaling system kind of looks at something like that, where it's not just like we take this and times everything times 100?

Unknown:

Yeah, so there's I mean, there's like, there's custom batch sizes and things like that. And, and by the way, like, first of all, though, all of those systems and then other ones, into dec, so it would be great if they actually converted from teaspoons to cups they don't. Because that's, that's really difficult. We do that in mes, because I at the same time always get annoyed if I have a recipe that's like, you know, have a cup of baking soda or something for a really big batch. And then I want to make a small batch. And it's like point oh two, five cups and like, I can't measure that. And so I want to convert that to grams or to teaspoons. And so what we what you know, in me is like, I spent a lot of time, you know, thinking through all the things that were really hard about getting recipes into any of these platforms, and then using the recipes in the platforms. And so that's the majority of what we focus on is how can we make it really easy to scale and to convert, if I'm running low on an ingredient, and let's say I'm making a pepper relish, and I it's supposed to be, you know, 10,000 grams, and I have 9482 grams after I dice everything, obviously, we don't have exactly like that the rest of it will scale for me. So it's precise. And if I want to make two quarts instead of four pounds, I can do that. And and we do that because we have this database of 1000s and 1000s of ingredients that we're continually updating, we have chefs and registered dietitians that are that are updating these things all the time with all the empirical information that you would typically need to like do yourself, right, so like, the yields and the conversion. So if you Dyson, then you're chopping on your slice and onion or peel and onion, or juice and onion, and how much does that onion way? And what does that convert to if you dice a cup of it? And how much does that you know in volume and weight? And what are the allergens associated and what are the other ways in which you spell that word and the ways that you misspell that word and all that is built in and constantly updated. So that a it's really easy to get your information in and become haven't been way more dynamic than it was in like your word duck. And be that you can do all those things when you need to get cost, for example, and you're using a pound of avocado in a recipe. But of course you buy avocados by the piece like a 24 count box or something. Well, it's already converts for you, it's already built in, you know, we know that a hotspot on average has 4.35 ounces of flesh in it. You can customize that if you want but it's built in. So we try to think about like what are all the things that we as chefs do in the systems that aren't cooking? And we just do all that for you so that you can focus on what I want to make? How do I want to make it? Do I want to update if I update it? Will everybody know right away and kind of be easy to update and easy to change and share and and and that's really where we should be spending our time as chefs not figuring out the conversion between this and that and, and adding in all these sort of like sub recipes that you don't even use because you need to know how much appealed carrot, you know, yield things like that.

Chris Spear:

And how easy is it to get recipes in so like, let's say again, going back to a Word doc because that's how a lot of things like can you just kind of copy and paste and drop in and there's some way that it you know, like has some smart tech that that converts that out.

Unknown:

We essentially devise over the course of several years, I just got recipes from everyone I knew, and every one I didn't know and everyone they knew and looked at 1000s and 1000s of like formats of recipes because we all do it differently. And we develop the lexicon of recipe data, meaning like ingredients and quantities and units of measure and stations and tools and headers and notes and prep methods and all that all those things that are associated and we can parse all of that out and so when you import a recipe, even if you put like salt to taste and half g of diced onion and three PT of however you write it if you put headers or notes that we can ascertain that then so we are always tracking kind of the delta between what you enter and the final output so that we we can keep getting smarter too. So like when you take that random word document you have and put it into mes, it standardizes it, and it still makes it look beautiful and structured. But it has all that sort of information that you need, you can scale it and convert it and, you know, add your images and videos. And really, really easily, you know, when we were building these, I was building with new ecosystems, this really large restaurant group that I was running. And, you know, we had to put our recipes into inventory system as well, it took us about nine months to get all of our recipes into that inventory, just literally when we had you know, a full time person working on it, because I mean, we have seven different concepts and 1000s of recipes, it took us literally two days to get them into mes. And now we have, you know, integrations but we can actually like push your recipe data to those systems. So the amount of time that you save is, you know, immense. And as you know, in nine months, those recipes are not the same anyway, we've changed them. So imagine having to update that. So, you know, that's, that's a big part of what we're trying to solve as well just make it really, really easy to get all this information. And so you can do what's really important, which is like, use these recipes.

Chris Spear:

Can you quick convert from like, say grams to teaspoons?

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah. And you can do it dynamically by every ingredient. Because obviously, like a teaspoon of baking soda weighs a different amount than a teaspoon of Shio Koji, which is different from a teaspoon of dark rye flour, all those all of those conversions are built in, you know, one

Chris Spear:

of the big things I do, you know, I blog, right, and like, I weigh everything in grams, but one of the complaints I get is, you know, the average home user isn't weighing things yet, even though they should be. But it's like, I want to be precise on you know, this is like a seven and a half grams of whatever. And then I post on my blog, and people are like, well, how many teaspoons is that? It's like, Well, shit, I didn't figure that out. Like you should be weighing this. But yeah, sometimes people still want to see that kind of measurement. So I just was looking for something also, that would be really easy to do it that way.

Unknown:

Yeah, 100%. And you could do it really, really easily. And literally, wherever you see a unit and a recipe, just click on it, put whatever other unit you want ended up dates for you. And that's not just like, grams, a teaspoon, let's just say I'm using one jalapeno, right, but I'm actually let's say I'm using 25 grams of jalapeno, while the average jalapeno is you know, 28 grams that some are longer, some are smaller, but if someone does want to know how many jalapenos it is, then you know, they can use one. And if you have a recipe where you do just want to say, one jalapeno for myself severity, you can get a cost, you know, per pound of that. So that's all just built in. I also use meals at home, and my wife uses it. And so when she's making a recipe for like one of my one of my pancake recipes, let's say I have it on grams, of course, but she's not going to be anything Gribbs. So she just has it on in volume for her.

Chris Spear:

Where's the hard sell? I mean, when you try and pitch this to, you know, restaurants or chefs, even if you're just like really, even if you're just recreationally talking to friends, like, do you have people say like, I'm not interested? I'm not into, you know, writing recipes, whatever. Like, what are some of the things you hear as to maybe why people haven't wanted to adapt the system?

Unknown:

Most chefs, I haven't really come across chefs, you know, my team does most of them with now but like the majority of chefs see, and they're like, holy shit, like, where has this been my whole life like this is, you know, because, look, it's what I wanted, I'm just building the thing that I've wanted my whole life. And you know, I'm a chef. And so my hope is that, like everybody, like we're all in this together, like, we just build what everybody keeps asking for. The pushback we do get is, there is obviously like a, like a segment of chefs. It's funny, you know, in the in sort of like the fine dining world dislike never is the case. But there are secondary chefs or like, my recipes are very, like precious and, and I, I don't want anyone to see them. And I don't want to, like digitize them. And for them. That's, you know that they we honestly, we just, we don't really try to sort of like force that from them. And they have to, like, get over or not, we have some of the best chefs in the world. And most of them, like try to execute what we do. You know. So that's, that's one. And I think there's also like a segment of a very small segment. And I think it's a it's a dying breed of them that that say, Oh, we don't use recipes. You know, anybody that says they don't use recipes, it's there. It's a novel thing to say, because you do first of all, if you have a team and you don't use recipes, good luck surviving, to your question of like, how you don't survive as a business, don't have recipes. You know, that's a really great way of not surviving, because, you know, customers need consistency. And if you just think that everybody will just make it the same way because of some way you've told them to make it. Well, that's just not going to happen. And it's not a very good way to run a business. And then it also sets people up for failure. Because when they don't, it's a very old school way of thinking because when they don't do it the way that you want, like your first, you know, reaction is to blame them. And it's not their fault at all. It's because you didn't document exactly what you want to have happen. And we make it really easy to do that even with video and things so you can be very clear. But when you are like as an individual chef, if you're just cooking like you you're a private chef and you go somewhere. A lot of what you're going to do is probably by taste you're just like, you know you're not measuring everything as you Go. That's it. And I'm the same way as a chef a lot of times when I cook, but there's a lot of things where like, I need the base, right? Like, if I'm making knock Chomp, right, I have a base of like that i over the years of like, this is how much like, lime juice and sugar and jalapeno and shallot that I use and how much fish sauce and like, I'll have derivatives of that. And I'll maybe add peach or I'll add, you know, peanut butter and things like that. But like I have my my base because like, first of all, it's you know, all of us sometimes we just have Brainfart it's like, I forgot the thing. And then there's some things of course that like, you just need a recipe for like, bread. And you know, and and there are a lot of sauces where like, you know, the ratios are really are really, really important. And you can derive from it and you and you should, but you have a base and I think that's, that's sort of the bedrock of Nissan plus, right is have all of your sort of like, you know, information together in addition to your products, right. So like, yes, you set up your station, but you also set up like, Okay, here's, here's like the, you know, the foundation of all of these things that I cook, and I'm going to sort of iterate on them. But I want to know that I have this base. Because also if you do iterate on them, like, what worked, what didn't work, right? If I if you did add more of something or less of something or you reduced it longer, or you added, you know, mango puree this time instead of passion feud, or like, what happened? Was it good? Was it bad? And that kind of thing is really important as well. So that was a bit of a rant. But

Chris Spear:

no, I totally get it. Like I just made a chimney tree this morning. And that starts with me making a red wine vinegar at first and I have a ratio of how much oil to how much of vinegar I like, and then how many teaspoons of whatever spice then the herbs, you can get a little loosey goosey. You know, it's like, you know, yeah, one bunch of cilantro, one bunch of parsley or two bunches of both, and just you know, then you kind of adjust by texture, and it might need more salt. But I always start with this very base like vinegar, right? So I get the balance of oil to vinegar to spice, right. And then you can just kind of start playing around with the types of herbs and balance it from there. But yes, there's like a very definite starting point that I have with that recipe. So it's a hybrid of, yes, there's some recipe and then some it's kind of by taste and texture, kind of present. What happens if I use mes and for whatever reason, I don't want to use it anymore, like its price, or I don't like it or something like my concern is always that I put all this work in this thing that's on someone else's platform. And then I'm not using it anymore, is there a way to export your stuff out, you know, just thinking about like Instagram, right? Like you post all your food photos on there, the only place you have it, someone hacks your account, you've lost it, you start from zero. So the same way like because that's my concern is I've got all these recipes, I'm gonna put all this effort into it, you know, I don't want people start off on the negative or the bad foot thinking that they would leave. But that is something in the back of my mind is like, Okay, I put in all this work to put my recipes here. Now for whatever reason, I'm not using it, is there a way to get those recipes off the system or to keep them or something or, you know, what's the say that like you, you just go out of business, it's not your thing anymore. Now I've lost all this work I put into because I do think a lot of us are like Hoarders with those recipes and that stuff, right? And you want to make sure that if something goes awry, you're still going to have those

Unknown:

100%. And you should you should be right those or you should have those for life. We thought about all of that, before we ever even launched, both from a security standpoint, right to make sure no one can ever, like get your recipes. From an evergreen standpoint of like, mes that is free to just have your recipes, right. So if you if you're using these for your business, and you know you're getting your costs or whatever, all those things that you need to do, you have a team, you're sharing whatever there's, like, you know, you can pay for the for the for the for the app to do all those things. But if at any point, you're like, you know what, I, I'm not doing that anymore, there's, there's a free version of me. So just have your recipes. And that's because you should you should have these for life. And you can export, obviously, like exporting recipes out of these, they're not going to be near the same, right? Because all the functionality is what you can do in me is outside of that they're just a static, you know, a static document. And you know, the value is obviously having them to be able to do all these things to them. But there's lots of ways in which we make sure that you never lose your recipes. And, and that no matter what you can have them even if you can't pay any longer. Sometimes you just can't pay sometimes people go out of business and they just don't want their recipes. And that's important actually, for us. Because our our vision here is, you know, I want this to be the universal recipe medium, like when you think of creating and storing your recipes, they should go into mes. And then there's lots of other stuff you want to do. And if you want to do those things, and yeah, you can, you can pay for that. But at any time, you can always just have your recipes, you know at hand and not not have to have that paywall. It's a reason why we partner with a lot of culinary schools and students get meals as well because we want you to have this for life. It's it should be something that you have, you know, I wish 20 years ago 25 years ago, I started putting my recipes in here because I've been putting them in from over the last couple of years I've been putting in all my recipes from all the restaurants I worked at and all the plate all the things that I've done On, and there's tons that I, I'm sure that I don't have in there. And I'm like, Man, if I had this from day one, I would have so much stuff. And I would have so much like, you know, insights of like, okay, I want to make something with quince. And I can look back and say, What was that thing I did with quince, Apple the day where we use sodium citrate, and they're like, Oh, yeah. And then I did that thing, you know, at that Italian restaurant, and Piedmont, and we and they had that reduction. And I can, I can see all those things like, oh, yeah, there's that thing. And it's all there for me. And I can pull it up really quickly.

Chris Spear:

So is there a search function by like ingredient or something like if I'm just looking for something that uses key limes, or whatever? Can you search and it'll like, go through? Oh, yes,

Unknown:

we have like search on steroids. It's like search and filter, like, basically, you can, of course, you can search by any name or any ingredient. But you can, you don't. And you don't have to, like, create tags or anything that basically as soon as you create a recipe, you can search by name, green, you can search by the station exist on any tools that you use, and any words that exist in the prep steps or in the headers or notes, you know, who you've shared it with, or what allergens are associated with it, or, you know, when it was created, all that stuff is you know, searchable and filterable. So it means you can say, Okay, I want to see everything that has, you know, quince and blueberries that was made by Chris, that doesn't have a dairy allergy from Chile, or something, you know, and all of that you could so you can parse it and kind of get exactly what you're looking for.

Chris Spear:

And there's ways to share recipes with third parties, like other chefs, like let's say, I've got all I have 1000 recipes in the system, but I'm doing a pop up dinner with you. So I want you to see these five recipes only is there a way to get you just like those five recipes,

Unknown:

there's three ways to share recipes in these. So this sort of like, friend a friend way because I just couldn't share a copy with you, right. And that's basically like, you don't need to pay basically, like you get a you get, you'll get an email that says, Hey, Josh just shared this recipe for tan with you. And you now have a free free version of means and you have that recipe and you have all the stuff associated with it. And that's one way so to share a copy. The other way is to share access. So like I can share, just like you would Google it, say where I can share a view access to you or edit access to you. And then that way, you can see if it's a viewer access, you can't edit it, but you can still scale it, you can see all the videos and pictures and you can print it that kind of stuff, but you can't edit the recipe, or I can share edit access, and you can actually edit the recipe. And then the last way is I can publish recipe. So like you'll see this on Instagram a lot with people where they like, you can generate a public link. And then post that on Instagram, it's actually a great way to sort of like if you're working on a recipe, you can post it and has like, you know, you can make videos, and it can be sort of its own little, you know, story of the prep steps and the ingredients, and people can now scale that recipe and converted, we can put it on your website. And so those are the three ways sort of sharing a copy, granting access to the recipes or publishing to the web.

Chris Spear:

What do you wish you knew before you started me is Is there anything any skills that maybe you could have been better at or just anything you were really surprised by?

Unknown:

Oh my god, there's like a billion things I wouldn't know where to start. There's so many mistakes that we made. You I think the most important one is? Well, like with anything, just assume you don't know anything. And, you know, I had a lot of cognitive bias around what I think a recipe app should be. So I did spend a lot of time talking to other chefs about what they do, what they, what they don't do, what they like, what they don't like, where they're storing their recipes, all those kinds of things. But I think if I could have gotten back in probably would have just released sooner and then just gotten their feedback as we built. Because it just took longer, cost more money for us to do what we want the chef's wanted. So that's I think there's never like an early enough time just kind of like get it into everybody's hands. And and also just some assumptions around the understanding of like mechanics of food costing and things like that, that I've done for the last 20 years. I wish when I started that I I had realized that it's not as intuitive as I thought, because it took us a long time to build that intuitiveness into the app, we now have it but but I wish that we'd done it in the beginning.

Chris Spear:

So kind of like what was the timeframe with your launch? Was it minimum viable product? Get it out there get people using it? Or was it more like let's get this right, we really need to work some kinks out.

Unknown:

We did sort of take a while before we launched because, you know, my hypothesis was that the incumbent at the moment is Word docs and spreadsheets. Right? So whether that's, you know, the static files, those are like Google Sheets, Google Docs, and so we had to be at least 10x better than them in most things. And at least comparable in the things that where we where we needed to be. And that took a while that wasn't something we could just like, you know, do day one. And so we had to build a fair amount through that and it took a lot of you know, a lot of money and time to do that. But it was the right thing to do if I launched with like this very basic thing. would have just, I already knew the answer that like this is not going to be enough for you to switch. Apart from that we launched like right during like, it was right when COVID hit was when we were planning to launch, like May of 2020 was our like launch date. So I actually paused on the launch, and instead had my developers stop what they were doing and build this sort of like, consumer version of the app, and launch this thing called recipes for relief. And I allowed chefs to create recipes in me's and sell them to consumers to their customers, and 100% of the proceeds went to the chefs and their business. And so we let help chefs raise 10s of 1000s of dollars for themselves and for their business, through this recipes relief initiative. I ended that, you know, at the end of 2020, and we launched at the end of 2020, with the with the b2b product, but we'll be bringing that back in another version in the future, to really help sort of like chefs connect with consumers and generate more revenue and things like that, but I didn't feel it was right to launch when everybody was, you know, shutting down. And so instead, I was like, What can I, you know, my, again, my, my mission is always just like, How can I have the biggest impact on the industry, because this is the entry that gave me everything that I have. And, you know, MES is that now for me, I do believe that this is going to have an everlasting, sort of like paradigm shift type impact on the industry. But at the time, you know, I had to ask myself is, will this have that impact right now? And the answer was no, like, like, let's help my friends and other colleagues in the industry. Let's help the chef's, like earn cash right now, because they're all out of work, you know, or their business is not generating revenue. And so that's what we

Chris Spear:

did. That was the first time I heard of you and saw this, I thought it was such a cool thing, like long before I even knew what mes really was. Oh, cool. Awesome. What are some of your favorite resources? These can be culinary business, personal, like websites, books, tools, what are some things that you really love that maybe have helped you grow? either personally or professionally?

Unknown:

Well, I'm an avid reader. So I read a lot of books. And so there's, I mean, there's so many books that that have had an impact on me, from a business standpoint. And from a from a cooking stamp. I mean, there's tons of cooks that I love. But in terms of like books, as it relates to business, there's a bunch I think, crossing the chasm is a great one, play bigger. Zero to One, but Peter Thiel, high output management by Andy Grove. I mean, I can go on there's there's so many incredible books. I also like I read Sidhartha, once a year, it's incredible, sort of like just sort of like, gut check of like, where are you at life? What are you thinking about? Like, what's important to you? What's What what did you think was important that isn't? So I tend to sort of go towards books for that kind of thing.

Chris Spear:

Me too. I mean, as I didn't go to school for business I went to Johnson was for culinary, I had no business experience. So when I wanted to start my own business, I spent a ton of time reading books, listening to audiobooks, all kinds of within that same realm. Zero to ones are really interesting one, I don't know how it's tough for me now to separate the man from the book. Yeah, it's like, can you still read? I read it long before I knew much about, you know, his beliefs, politics policies, it's like, Could you go back today and reread that book and not look at it through like, tinted glasses? I don't know.

Unknown:

It's funny, you say that? Because I think I mean, this is gonna get a little bit. It's could be like political, but there's really no, there's no one that's achieved something great that also hasn't, you know, done something that probably annoys people, I don't believe in, in his political views. But I also can't sort of deny, like the impact that he's had on the industry and the impact that that book has had on me, because it's all about like, just adding exponential value to the world. And that's how you create a great business. And I think that that gets lost so often, that people think, you know, you just need to figure out how you become profitable, or how you make a few dollars as passively as possible, whatever that thing is, and I think his sort of take is similar to Elon Musk, like, how much value can you bring in the Elon Musk, I know, is also very controversial, but like, it's hard to deny that he's literally changing our world. And his, you know, like beliefs on creating value means sort of, like, you know, making sure that there's a big enough Delta, between the current utility incumbent and what you're, you know, the state of the art, and, like, how big of an impact can you have, and how many people can then impact and it's a very similar sort of context of what of what Peter Thiel was saying, and I have to separate like, the views from the person. I also think, you know, at the end of the day, like, It's America, and as soon as we start, like, not reading things, or not entertain things, or not listening or not, like hearing both sides, it's the minute that we're like, we're just a part of that same problem, you know, because there's people there's people in my family who, I don't believe that their political views, but I still love them, and I still will listen to them. And I think you have to be careful about you know, how we actually like And how do we go about that disagreement, you know, because you need to be able to disagree and voice that. But you also need to, you know, see that every human has flaws. You know,

Chris Spear:

it's a slippery slope for sure. And you know, like every single person, show me, an Actor, a Musician, and anyone who hasn't done something that didn't piss off someone, you know, it's like I, there's musicians I love and then people say, like, but he was terrible as the frontman, he was like, the worst person and all his bandmates hate him. It's like, well, you know, I still love the music. Like, I can't separate that out.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, like, good Kanye West, you know, he's doing some really, really, really crazy things. And he is a genius. And I get a lot of joy out of his music, I love his music. But like, I see the things that he's doing. I'm like, Oh, that's not, don't do that. And I don't agree with them. And I wouldn't condone them. But he's brought so much joy to like me in terms of like his music. And there's, there's lots of people like that, that I think, you know, you just have to know that nothing is really binary, you know, that we're humans are a real blend of lots of different things. And anything that you've done, there's probably somebody out there that doesn't agree with part of it. And it doesn't make you a bad person. There are some things that make you a bad person. So you can't separate that. But um, you know, most of it is pretty, pretty blended.

Chris Spear:

Agreed. Well, it's been such a pleasure having you on the show. Is there anything you want to leave our listeners with before we get out of here today?

Unknown:

No. I mean, it sounds like most of your listeners are chefs. So apart from obviously the shameful plug of of news, I would say, you know, just do what you love, continue to do what you love, don't look at what, what other people are doing or, you know, compare it to other people. If you're cooking and you enjoy it, and you're able to make a living on it. That's amazing, you know, and he doesn't mean to be in a restaurant, it doesn't mean you mean that you need to have started some sort of any type of business if you're if you found some sort of medium which you can cook and make a living from it. You're already successful.

Chris Spear:

Yes. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. And to all of our listeners. This has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast, go to chefs without restaurants.org. To find our Facebook group, mailing list and check database. The community is free to join. You'll get gig opportunities, advice on building and growing your business and you'll never miss an episode of our podcast. Have a great week.