By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 16, 2015 at 9:02 AM

Do you have an award winning food and beverage concept brewing?

Maybe you want to launch Milwaukee's first mobile doughnut truck?

Have you come up with an inventive flavor enhancer no chef can live without?

Do you make the most delicious crackers on the planet and want to bring them to market?

Beginning April 1, inspired cooks with an innovative food or beverage business concept or early stage business are invited to enter the 2015 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, a regional contest to find Wisconsin's next great food entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs can enter in one of two categories: one for start-ups who have a brand new food business idea and a new category for early stage food entrepreneurs who have already launched but are looking for some help getting to the next level.

"Our entrants just keep getting stronger and we are excited to see what creative concepts this year will bring," says Lynne Robinson, president of Reliable Water Services.

The winner of last year’s startup category was Mary Pellettieri, co-founder of La Pavia beverages, maker of Top Note Tonics.

"This contest made us think ahead to the future to consider how we will get our products in the hands of consumers.  It was great exposure and a worthwhile way to learn from the experts," says Pelletieri.

Interested in vetting your food or beverage concept?

Apply online at by submitting a short application and uploading a photo of their recipe or product concept.

Finalists will be selected in late May to participate in a final judging event in July at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s future Food Maker School at the MATC Education Center at Walker’s Square.

A grand prize winner in each category will receive:

  • $2,000 in seed money from Reliable Water Services
  • Tuition for a three-credit course at MATC during the 2015-16 academic year
  • A priceless private meeting with food industry executives serving on FaB Wisconsin’s advisory council, along with a one year membership in FaB Wisconsin
  • Commercial kitchen and consultation services from MKE Kitchen plus registration fee for Riverwest Farmer’s Market, if appropriate; total value: $1,000
  • Prize package worth $350 from Fein Brothers Restaurant Equipment & Supplies

Judges for the contest will include Kurt Fogle, executive pastry chef for SURG Restaurant Group; Jan Kelly, owner and chef of Meritage restaurant; Peter Gottsacker, president of Wixon Seasonings & Flavor Systems; Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley Deli, Market & Full Service Café; Nick Maas, premise specialist for Agave Loco LLC (RumChata, Tippy Cow brands);  Jennifer Marino, owner of Angelic Bakehouse and Rakesh (Ryan) Rehan, owner of Café India.

The Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge is an effort to discover and support Milwaukee's next great start-up and early stage food entrepreneurs. The event is sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), Reliable Water Services, a local provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and water softeners, and FaB Wisconsin, an industry network for the food and beverage cluster in Wisconsin.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.