By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jul 21, 2014 at 8:08 AM

This past Thursday, six finalists competed in the final round of the 2014 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. Two of the six went home with prizes in the start-up and early stage business categories.

Mary Pellettieri of Top Note Tonics, a new beverage concept featuring non-alcoholic bitter soda concentrates, went home with the grand prize for the start-up category, while Robyn Wright of PoSaNa Organics, a producer of organic, gluten-free cooking and baking mixes using nutrient-dense almond and coconut flours won in the early stage business category.

Each winner received $2,000 in seed money from Reliable Water Services to start their business; comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package from MATC; a private meeting with food industry executives serving on FaB Wisconsin's advisory council and funding and growth consultation with financial specialists at MW Growth Partners.

Other finalists included Packaged European Buttercream, Wilhemena's Pies, Love Dust spice blends, and Wisco Pop! Soda.

The Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge is an effort to find 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 Writer & Dining Editor

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.