Nick Beckman with Mercy Chefs

On this week's Industrial Talk we're onsite at Xcelerate 23 in Orlando, FL and talking to Nick Beckman, Strategic Relationship Manager, Mercy Chefs about “Providing quality meals to areas of the world in need.”. Get the answers to your “Mercy Chefs” questions along with Nick's unique insight on this Industrial Talk interview!

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chefs, work, mercy, meals, great, food, fort myers, nick, reliability, fluke, grocery, put, ground, kitchens, ukraine, open doors, organizations, chef, hurricane katrina, plate


Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's write


once again, thank you very much for joining industrial talk the number one industrial related podcast in the universe. And I'm not overselling that at all, Nick, that celebrates industry professionals all around the world because you are bold, brave, you dare greatly you are changing lives, you're solving problems and you're making my life a better and that's why we celebrate you on this podcast. We are once again broadcasting on site, Xcelerate 23 And it's right out to like if you're out on the video you can see I can point it's all a buzzing around here. And we have a special guests Nick Nick Backman, Mercy Chefs, because they're going to be doing a pretty cool thing today here at Luke reliability. So let's get cracking with this conversation. Yeah, I'm excited. How you doing?


I'm doing great. Thanks for having me, Scott.


Yeah, you just flew on in?


I did I got off an airplane less than two hours ago. Yeah. Why don't get on another airplane in less than three hours. So really, yeah, they're back. Why? Oh, gotta make it happen. We're, we're down here to partner with Fluke reliability and, and do some really great work for the folks in Fort Myers. If you remember, Hurricane Ian strock. Last year in Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, all up and down the southwest coast of Florida. We were on site there for over three weeks, serving hot meals. And we're back again, this spring break to do some grocery box distribution. And those grocery boxes will be made by the folks here at the Fluke reliability conference.


See what's cool about it as I honestly when we were working on this particular project with Fluke Reliability, Mercy chefs came up. It was a interesting and quite noble business. So for the listeners out there, give us a little sort of 411 on what you guys do.


Sure, absolutely. So we're started in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, founder and CEO of Mercy Chefs, Chef Gary LA is originally from New Orleans, was working in the hotel industry in Virginia, after after Hurricane Katrina. And you know, you probably remember the the shots, the helicopter shots of people on the overpasses all across the city sitting there waving for help. And Chef Gary watched those shots, as we all did, and said, Hey, I recognize that person, I know that person and I know that person, and was compelled to go and help. He didn't know how he didn't know what he was doing yet. But he just kind of went and figured it out. He volunteered with all the big name organizations on the ground with the ones with their banners on CNN and Fox News, and was frankly appalled at what he saw. It was green beans on a plate for weeks in a row. And he said, This is New Orleans, this is the home of good food in America, this is the home of great food in America, we can be doing better. And he stayed up for nine months couldn't sleep for nine months after that. Just ideating and dreaming about how he could do it. You know, we can build mobile kitchens, we can pull them with big trucks and we can fill them with like high quantity cooking equipment. And that's what we do. So he took all that information and went back to those same organizations and said, Hey, I've got this great idea of how we can do it really well. You know, we can be a restaurant on wheels. We can give people love on a plate. And they said no thanks. We raised enough money putting cheese on bread. And he said, Okay, I'll do it myself.


Oh, wow. That's brutal. That is really brutal. What fascinates me about mercy chefs is because you guys do deliver high quality. I mean, there's there's just passion in the food, which is just really needed for areas that are truly struggling. Yeah. How do you How does the organization just deal with that supply chain deal with the the menu development and because you guys are global? Right? We


are Yeah, I can speak here domestically. You know, we've got a team of highly trained chefs, chefs who've worked in restaurants for a long time chefs who know what they're doing. chefs who have been trained to do high capacity feeding and keep the meals incredible. So we work with National Food purveyors, US foods, Cisco are some of our bigger purveyors, we'll work with regional purveyors as well we find that we often get really great product and it's nice to support local businesses too when we're on the ground. We worked a lot with Chaney brothers Inc. Down here in southwest Florida. That was incredible. Over the course of three and a half weeks in Fort Myers, we went through I believe the number is 17 Full semi trailer loads 1752 foot trailers of groceries, and that's scratch made groceries. You know, we're cooking from scratch out of that.


I'm just telling you, I don't I don't know how you How do you deal with? You don't deal with waste everything goes goes to the need. Janitor. That is Yeah,


absolutely. We when the service days done well, in the wake of a big disaster like Hurricane Ian, you know, there's a lot of people in need, I think our highest our highest day the most meals we've ever put out in the 17 year history of Mercy chefs was during Hurricane Ian and we did 23,000 means 23,000, handcrafted chef prepared hot meals. And it wasn't it's not bologna on bread, it's a real meal. And we did 23,000. So when we're doing that much, you don't find much waste because we're cooking through an entire truck every day and a half. And then when we kind of wind down, you know, when it's time for us to pack the trailers up and go home, we really like to work with local food banks, local outreach missions, we can use the product that we have leftover in their outreach.


So you're here in Orlando, but give us some other locations that you're currently working in?


Sure. Right now we're working globally. We have ongoing work in Ukraine. We've been there since you know, a week and a half after the outbreak of the war there. We are in Turkey right now. We had boots on the ground in Turkey, 48 hours post earthquake. We're moving product in Syria as well, which a lot of people are surprised by I am too. But we found open doors into Syria. And we're getting grocery products and food into Syria. We've got community kitchens here domestically that operate in outside of times of disaster, doing feeding in communities that need it every day. And we have the chefs and the knowledge and the equipment to make that happen. So we've got a community kitchen in Nashville, and then Portsmouth Virginia, which is our home base.


So when when you do the international stuff, that's that's pretty difficult. Yeah. I can only imagine the logistics as well as do you adjust the menu for the pallets that are like in the Ukraine? Yeah, absolutely. Not just bringing in? Yeah,


we're not doing biscuits and gravy and try to try. Right, right? Absolutely. So we work with a lot of people on the ground boots on the ground, who know what people like to eat what people need to eat. In a wartime situation, we were just focused on getting calories in, you know, nobody was getting food into Ukraine. We found some way to do it. And we did it before any of the big name organizations did it, maybe because we didn't know any better. And we just said, Well, we're gonna go until someone stops us, but it's just a lot of focus on calorie counts, especially there. So you know, something that people can put in their, in their bag and carry with them. So that one was very different for us. You know, we weren't, we weren't, we didn't have the ability to do safely the kind of meals we'd like to do. But we focused on getting calories in people's hands.


When you talk about calories, what are you trying to shoot for? What per plate? What what is the sort of rule of thumb when you talk about that? Yes, I see it. That's important. What do you do?


Sure. Honestly, I can't give you a number because I don't know if we've ever worked off of a number we just kind of work off of what the chefs are passionate about, you know, what, what profile do we want to do? What kind of love that we want to put on a plate today and we pray that at the end of the day, that's enough for somebody we do cook high calorie meals you know, in, in the wake of a disaster, your house has just been blown up your life is in shambles. You don't want you know, just a salad, you want a salad Yes, to cleanse what you've got going on in the in the meat and potatoes of the meals, we would like to make it a really balanced meal with lots of different flavors, lots of textures, and all your main food groups together.


I just think that that's so important. Because every time when I when we travel, and we're very fortunate to be able to do that. It always gets down to what makes the trip so special are the people and the food. Yeah, you know, and that's what that's what brings everybody together and and, and the simple fact that you guys deliver such high quality flavorful. There's, there's There's love in it. That's that's pretty cool. Let me ask you a quick question about Turkey. So sure, here it is it devastated How do you even begin to approach that?


You just go that's what we're called to do. Chef Gary's you know our motto our founding statement is go feed people just go feed people. So the first step is always just to go we're lucky enough to have an incredible staff on our team who know people around the world. So pulling on connections that we already have in the area if not in the country enables us to go really quickly to get boots on the ground to see what we see and then to figure it out from there and it's it's just open doors we just keep walking through open doors and


I would imagine it just keeps on you continue to learn Yeah, let's not do that. Let's right let's do that. That didn't work out real well that let's let's adjust but but as time goes goes on you just get better and better and better. Yeah, absolutely. So. So with that said, let's say to your teams, how, how many can Mercy Chefs? Let's say you just a young disaster here, disaster there. And so now you're spread thin. And you're just hammering on your supply chain, and you're just hitting all the food. How do you? How do you expand from there? What do you like? Like, we can't do? You don't want to say you can't?


Sure. What do you do? Well, that's a great question. Up until now, we, we've gotten into hairy situations where where we didn't, we're not sure where the next meal is gonna come from, we're not sure where the next truck of groceries is gonna come from our staff is stretched thin. I mean, we were on the ground for three weeks in Fort Myers. 16 hour days, 18 hour days, and on and on, and it's called time at 530 and you're maybe asleep by 1130 If you're lucky. And so we just kind of keep chugging along and trusting the process and it's seemingly, you know, the the the food trucks keep showing up and supply lines keep moving for


Is there ever a situation where you're just like, Alright, we're gonna be cooking this and the truck should be coming in, but you don't and then you have to adapt and adjust in.


Absolutely. Absolutely. Every other day, it seems like we're punting is what they call it in the industry is alright, we're punting from the green beans. You know, get something in the tails. Let's let's do a different profile now. Because you know, we didn't get what we were expecting to get a lot of trips to Sam's Club, we have emptied Sam's gloves across this country, driving up with a box truck. And you know, we were the people in there with 10 or 11 carts, just just shuffling stuff off the shelves.


That's pretty cool. That's a lot of fun. Yeah. But I bet you that time when you're saying oh, gosh, I wish I could sleep. I just want to sleep. And you just crash and you just burn and yeah. And you wake up a couple of days later, and you're just like, Alright, I'm ready to sort of rock and roll now. All right. As we wrap this up, I want I need for people to understand how they can get a hold of you why this is important. Sure, absolutely. How to contribute and all of that good stuff.


Absolutely. You can find us on the web is a great place to start with us. You can find us on any type of social media at Mercy. Chefs, Instagram and Facebook are a great way to connect with us.


Yeah, and they'll take their money.


Oh, and hey, since I'm a podcaster to go and listen to the Mercy chefs Hey, Buddy podcast. What's that all about? Hosted by yours truly, we tell stories on the ground, where we've been what we're doing. It's a great way to get in more in depth look into what we do.


All right. That's Nick. Thanks. You are fantastic. All right. Go out to Mercy. Chefs. Do not hesitate. Great organization do an incredible work at work that is truly needed. And food is. Gosh, I've been on the reset. I've been on the receiving end of the cheese sandwich. Sure. I wasn't happy. I'm sorry about that. Are you really sort of Sorry. All right, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side. Thank you very much for joining industrial talk we're broadcasting from Fluke reliability. This is accelerate 2023 And it is a bug. So people are running around so look them up to as well Fluke reliability go out to their website, you will not be disappointed. We will be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


Nick is the man Mercy Chefs, check them out, go to Find out more they're doing great things. And I've got to tell you, man, living in Louisiana, I've been unfortunately, exposed to so many the, the food situation that you just got to sort of take advantage of at the time because, well, power's out and waters sort of questionable. So you gotta you know, people really band together and be able to, you know, help each other out and mercy chefs. I really enjoyed that conversation at Xcelerate 2023 And I tell you the event that they had about the packing of the food and, and it was such a great team building exercise, you went up there and there was a lot of energy happening and, and Nick and his mercy chef team, they were running around and they were just it was just a wonderful team building experience and, you know, Fluke gives back, everybody one out on that one Xcelerate 2023 All right, we got a couple of things that you want to put on your calendar one. We're gonna be doing a webinar, specifically around supply chain, the challenges there. And then of course, trying to align supply chain with reliability. We're going to make that happen. Also, quantum computing, that's really pretty interesting. And we're still working on the DT associated with augmented reality, and VR, I just saw something out on one of the networks and they were talking about just think about wearing. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but that's irrelevant, but wearing goggles the whole time and that's your you could see people you could, you've got a big screen TV and it's all coming from your goggles. I don't know. But anyway, we're gonna unravel that too. We're gonna have a great panel there. All right, be bold, be brave, daring greatly. I say it all the time hanging out with Nick. Contribute to Mercy chefs, and you will not be disappointed. We're gonna have another great conversation coming from Xcerelate shortly

On this week's Industrial Talk we're onsite at Xcelerate 23 in Orlando, FL and talking to Nick Beckman, Strategic Relationship Manager, Mercy Chefs about "Providing quality meals to areas of the world in need.". Get the answers to your "Mercy Chefs" questions along with Nick's unique insight on this Industrial Talk interview!

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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