recent

Mapping Out a Path for C-Suite Success

Celebrating 15 Years of the Legatum Center

MIT Sloan Alumni and Friends Turn Up for 2024 MIT 24-Hour Challenge

Alumni

Sustainability

E-Fish CEO on Food Education and ‘Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars’

By

Jeff Tedmori, MBA ’20, never thought his entrepreneurial journey would take him to the world of reality television—let alone the London set of Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars—but that’s exactly what happened earlier this year.

Jeff Tedmori, MBA ’20, CEO and Co-Founder of E-Fish

Credit: E-Fish

Shark Tank obviously crosses the mind of every entrepreneur, but I always just tried to focus on building my business,” says Tedmori, CEO and co-founder of E-Fish, a digital marketplace connecting restaurants and consumers directly to seafood harvesters.

However, as one of 26 auditionees who will pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to Food Stars mentors Ramsay and Lisa Vanderpump in the second season premiere on Wednesday, May 22, at 9 p.m. ET on FOX, Tedmori is excited.

“I’m passionate about educating consumers and changing what the seafood industry looks like in America. But it’s hard to do that without amplification, so being able to partner with a chef like Gordon Ramsay and a platform like FOX is fantastic,” he says.

“It’s the opportunity to get on your soapbox and talk about the change you want to see and have millions of people see and hear you.”

From avocados to Patagonia

Tedmori earned a bachelor’s degree in business, then worked at Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company renowned for its environmental advocacy and activism. He climbed the corporate ladder for four and a half years, ultimately landing on the organization’s venture capital team, which identifies and invests in early-stage, mission-driven startups.

“I was talking to these amazing entrepreneurs on a daily basis, learning about the incredible work they were doing to try to better the planet and the people living on it,” says Tedmori.

At Patagonia, he learned a lot about sustainability, entrepreneurship, and the kind of business he would like to start one day. But, Tedmori explains, this was not going to happen while “sitting on the investment side of the table.”

“I was tired of hearing about what other entrepreneurs were doing and I got kind of envious, so I took a risk, left my good job, and went to business school,” says Tedmori. “I wanted to launch my own business.”

He specifically wanted to use entrepreneurship to improve the world’s oceans, so he applied to MIT Sloan. Tedmori wanted to engage with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, learn from experts like John D. Sterman, PhD ’82 (Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management; Co-Faculty Director, Sustainability Initiative), and enroll in the school’s Sustainability Certificate.

Inspired by his entrepreneurial grandfather, Tedmori also wanted to understand the seafood industry’s reliance on shipping, supply chains, and logistics—and figure out how to make it more sustainable.

“My grandfather used to ranch avocados,” he recalls. “While I was at MIT, he would mail me avocados when they were in season. It’s funny how it all works out because everybody ships things and tries to figure out how to make it work.”

The COVID-19 pandemic briefly forced Tedmori and E-Fish co-founder Matthew Henderson to transition to a business-to-consumer model when they launched in early 2020. Since then, they have returned to wholesale, working to connect harvesters with restaurants, chefs, and other marketplaces across the United States with fresh, sustainable, in-season catches.

Now, Tedmori hopes to translate E-Fish’s built-in knowledge of seafood seasonality into a much broader appeal.

Jeff Tedmori | MBA ’20, CEO and Co-Founder of E-Fish
I’m passionate about educating consumers and changing what the seafood industry looks like in America. But it’s hard to do that without amplification, so being able to partner with a chef like Gordon Ramsay and a platform like FOX is fantastic.

Food education on a grand scale

E-Fish has participated in educational and early-stage entrepreneurship accelerators like MIT delta v, MIT Sandbox, and Techstars. These experiences, along with the classes and expertise provided by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, prepared Tedmori for the moment he would have to pitch E-Fish to Ramsay and Vanderpump on the set of Food Stars.

“Everything I’ve experienced leading up to that moment, with E-Fish and throughout my life, has prepared me to succeed in this pitch,” he says.

89%

of managed fish stocks in the U.S. are overfished

As a former child actor, Tedmori was not bothered by the stage lights, the cameras, and the crew. Pitching E-Fish to celebrities like Ramsay and Vanderpump remained a challenge, but he knew his training at MIT Sloan and beyond had prepared him. He also knew that far more was at stake than 15 minutes of fame on broadcast television.

“I’m not just there to represent myself. I’m also representing the brand, the fishermen we work with, and the chefs who support us,” says Tedmori. “Obviously, they can represent themselves, but in that moment, I have the opportunity to tell our story to the world.”

Food Stars also gives Tedmori the chance to educate Americans about where the seafood they eat in restaurants and buy in grocery stores is coming from, whether it is sustainable, and how this supply chain can be improved.

“Everything I do is meant to educate our customers, both chefs and those at home, and to help them be more conscious and confident in their seafood buying,” says Tedmori.

“If we don’t understand the seasonality of things, and don’t know about the different products that are out there, then how can we create an ocean that will last for generations to come if we only extract two to three species? There are thousands of different species in the U.S. alone that we can work with. But if we only care about a handful, we’re going to demolish those fisheries.”

The second season of Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars premieres on Wednesday, May 22, at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

First Look at Food Stars Season 2 with Gordon Ramsay and Lisa Vanderpump

For more info Andrew Husband Senior Writer & Editor, OER (617) 715-5933