Wednesday – February 26, 2020

Wisconsin Challenge Looking for Your Food/Beverage Biz Ideas
Contest Gives a Boost to Local Entrepreneurs

April 4, 2016

Do you have a creative food or beverage business concept or early-stage business that could use a boost? If so, you will want to enter this year's Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, a regional contest to find Wisconsin's next great food entrepreneur. The Challenge is sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College, Reliable Water Services , a statewide provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and water softeners and FaB Wisconsin, the state's food and beverage industry cluster organization.

The Challenge features a start-up category for those with a new food business idea (not yet to market) and an early-stage category (5 years or under) food entrepreneurs who have launched but are looking for help to get to the next level. Aspiring chefs, home cooks and early stage food entrepreneurs throughout Wisconsin can enter online at by submitting a short application and uploading a photo of their recipe or product concept. The site has contest rules and details.

The grand prize winner in each category will receive:

  • $2,000 in seed money from Reliable Water Services
  • Tuition for a 3-credit course at MATC during the 2016-2017 academic year
  • Priceless private meeting with FaB Wisconsin's Director of Innovation and a one year membership in FaB
  • Prize package worth $400 from Fein Brothers Restaurant Equipment & Supplies

"In addition to seed money and other great prizes, the Challenge offers a unique opportunity to gain advice from some of Wisconsin's most successful and savvy food and beverage entrepreneurs and experts," said Marie Colmerauer, Instructor of Food Science Technology at MATC. Finalists will be selected in late May to participate in a final judging event in July 20th at MATC's student-operated 6th Street Café located at 1015 N. 6th St. on the Downtown Milwaukee Campus.

Lori Fredrich, food journalist/writer for and author of "Milwaukee Food: A History of Cream City Cuisine" (2015, History Press) will emcee this year's event.

"As a start-up business, it is difficult to find a forum to get objective feedback from experienced professionals and from the general public that you can immediately use to enhance your ideas. This event provides exactly that opportunity," said Robert Holton, founder of Milwaukee Craft Foods and last year's start-up category winner with Milwaukee Craft Brew Vinegar.

Judges for the contest include:

  • Kurt Fogle, co-owner, Bass Bay Brewhouse
  • Tonya Garrido, executive chef, Harwood Place Independent & Assisted Senior Living
  • Peter Gottsacker, President, Wixon Seasonings & Flavor Systems
  • Jan Kelly, owner and chef, Meritage restaurant
  • Nick Maas, premise specialist for Agave Loco LLC (RumChata, Tippy Cow brands)
  • Jenny Marino, President/CEO, Angelic Bakehouse Pam Mehnert, General Manager of Outpost Natural Foods

"We are so proud to have helped launch a number of innovative food and beverage products over the past five years and can't wait to see what new ideas this year will bring," said Lynne Robinson, president of Reliable Water Services. For more information and to enter, visit Reliable Water Services at

2016 Media Coverage

April 1, 2016
Calling All Foodies/Marketers: A Local Kitchen Challenge You Need to Enter
Michael Schlesinger interviews previous Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge winner Mary Pellettieri and previews the 2016 Challenge!