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Wisconsin Challenge 2015

Wisconsin’s 2015 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge

This year’s top food business concepts for Wisconsin’s 2015 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge were all about sharing classic and international flavors with a unique twist. On July 23 at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s future Food Maker School at 816 West National Avenue in Milwaukee, finalists’ food concepts were tasted.

A big thank you to our judges, who provided thoughtful feedback to all finalists,Lori Fredrich, our emcee who kept everything moving and to the fabulous event support provided by MATC. Here are the results.


Grand Prize and People’s Choice Startup Winner: Robert Holton, Milwaukee Craft Brew Vinegar

Biz concept: Craft beers fermented into completely unique malt vinegars, from a saison-style which ages into a champagne-like vinegar to the richness of a maple bock aged to almost balsamic-like finish. Goal is to extend the line into flavorful sauces and pickled vegetables.

Karen Allen, The Raw Conformist

Biz concept: Raw prepared desserts and snacks that are decadently delicious with the upside of being delightfully nutritious. Created with a unique blend of organic, gluten-free “raw” ingredients such as nuts, cacao and Madagascar vanilla.

Pedro Tejada, Pedro’s South American Empanadas

Biz concept: A food truck selling homemade empanadas in flavor combinations such as Potato chorizo and aged cheddar, ramp cauliflower chickpea curry, and Peruvian chili chicken.  Pedro’s goal is to introduce the culture and flavors of South America to those who have not experienced it.


Grand Prize Winner, Early Stage: Susan Knutson, The Naked Baker LLC

The ultimate cookie experience with frozen, all-natural gourmet cookie dough. Each recipe uses all natural ingredients free of preservatives, artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils.

People’s Choice Winner, Early Stage: Jessica Williamson, Cream City Casseroles

Milwaukee’s only casserole delivery service featuring comfort-food classics such as Chicken and Biscuits, Shepherd’s Pie, Pizza Casserole and more. Meals are delivered fully cooked and cold, ready to pop in the oven, fridge or freeze. It’s guilt-free “real food” for busy families.

Jennifer Grundy, 5 lilies

Small batch artisan preserves, locally sourced and organic, whenever possible.  There are three year-round flavors including Blueberry Lavender Peach, Blushing Berry, and Pear Citrus Ginger, as well as several seasonal flavors.  These jams are meant for people who love to cook and eat.

All Challenge finalists received a one-year membership in FaB Wisconsin.

Grand prize winners in each category received $2,000 in seed money from Reliable Water Services, tuition for a 3-credit course at MATC during the 2015-16 academic year, a private meeting with food and beverage industry executives serving on FaB Wisconsin’s advisory council, commercial kitchen and consultation services from MKE Kitchen plus the registration fee for the Fall Riverwest Farmer’s Market if appropriate (total value $1,000) and a prize package worth $400 from Fein Brothers Restaurant Equipment & Supplies.

Startup and Early Stage winners of the People’s Choice contest were awarded $200 gift cards from SURG Restaurant Group, private consultation with FaB Wisconsin‘s Innovation Committee, content marketing consultation from Posts by Ghost, tickets to the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, marketing, public relations and social media consultation and support from Marge Meyer Associates, Inc. and PRWORKS LLC.

Challenge Judges:

Event Emcee

Lori Fredrich, food and dining writer for and Burp! Blog; founder of MKEfoodies