From expressmilwaukee.com: “Milwaukee supporting new food business concepts” – Greater Milwaukee is a sturdy hub for emerging food artists and continues to gain acclaim for the impressive amount of locally owned and operated businesses and restaurants within the foodie scene. Our city has many unique gourmet restaurants and businesses, mobile food trucks and distinctive product lines that continue to enter the market, but starting a business is not an easy feat. Giving local entrepreneurs a springboard to help begin realizing or further expand their food dreams is Milwaukee’s annual Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge.

Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), which has a great culinary program and entrepreneurial center; Reliable Water Services, a local provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and softeners for restaurants; and FaB Wisconsin, a food and beverage industry cluster helping to encourage other entrepreneurs to grow their business, are now in their third year of sponsoring the challenge, which seeks to find Wisconsin’s next great food entrepreneurs. Different from a recipe contest, this competition seeks to support inspired culinary concepts, so participants are not only judged on taste, but also creativity, possibility, marketability, packaging and other important factors that help lead to business success.

This year, participants entered in one of two categories: the Start Up category for those who are ready to take the next step and get their product on the market, and the Early Stage category for those who have already gone to market in small ways, but have been in the business three years or less and are looking to take their product to the next level.

This year, dozens of entrepreneurs entered the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. Three have been chosen as finalists in each category to compete for the two grand prizes of $2,000 seed money from Reliable Water Services, a comprehensive entrepreneur consultation package from MATC, a private meeting with FaB Wisconsin’s food industry executives and a funding and growth consultation with financial specialists at MW Growth Partners. Finalists are Mary Pellettieri’s (Milwaukee) Top Note Tonics sodas, Jennifer Goldbeck’s (Cedarburg) Packaged European Buttercream icings, and Nicole Meredith’s (Milwaukee) Wilhemena’s Pies pecan pies in the Start Up category; and Jackie Valent Lucca’s (Brookfield) Love Dust spices, Austin Ashley, Hallie Ashley and Zac Mathes’ (Viroqua) Wisco Pop! sodas, and Robyn Wright’s (Dousman) PoSaNa Organics gluten-free baking mixes in the Early Stage category.

Christel Henke, the Challenge’s project coordinator, says, “Milwaukee has such a great food culture and is so supportive of new food ideas, judging by the great number of restaurants and products that come into the market. It’s really fun to be able to help move forward some of these new concepts in a market that’s really receptive for it. And from a new business standpoint, from the aspect of supporting the local economy, we’re really helping move forward some of these new entrepreneurs.”

The final judging will take place at a Food Network-style event on Thursday, July 17, at noon at MATC’s new student-operated 6th Street Café (1015 N. Sixth St.). The event will feature eight renowned food expert judges who will listen to each finalist’s three-minute presentation about their concept, taste-test the product and then decide the grand prize winner of each category. A few judges include Kurt Fogle, executive pastry chef of SURG Restaurant Group, Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley, Jen Ede, publisher of Edible Milwaukee magazine and Rakesh (Ryan) Rehan, owner of Café India. And the best part about the event? The final judging is open to the public and samples of each participant’s product will be available to try.

For more information about this year’s finalists, judges or event details, visit Reliable Water Services’ website at www.hotwater247.com. Perspective food entrepreneurs are encouraged to check back often for future information about the challenge.

From gmtoday.com: “A Delicious experience: Cedarburg baker to take part in entrepreneur challenge” — CEDARBURG – Baking has been a part of Jennifer Goldbeck’s professional life for more than seven years. This month, she is entering a new chapter in her foray into the kitchen as she takes part in a local entrepreneurial competition.

Goldbeck, who owns Delicately Delicious in Cedarburg, is one of six finalists in a competition known as the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. The event will be held at noon July 17, at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s downtown campus.

The entrepreneur challenge, modeled after some of the competitions that have been prevalent on such cable channels as the Food Network, is split into two categories – one for start-up innovations and another for people who are in the early stages of their products.

Goldbeck is one of three finalists in the start-up category. She is going to be showcasing a European vanilla buttercream frosting mix that she recently began selling at her Cedarburg store.

The grand-prize winner within the two category competitions will receive $2,000 in seed money toward his or her business, in addition to a service through MATC that is being described as a comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package.

While Goldbeck is quick to admit she has her eyes on the prize, she said she is eagerly looking forward to meeting the judges and gathering any insight the various professionals might have. Eight food service veterans across the Milwaukee area will be judging the assorted entries.

“I’m excited to meet all of the people because everyone has such different experiences,” she said. “The time and expertise they will offer is very valuable.”

Goldbeck’s buttercream frosting mix has been a work in progress for about six months. In addition to refining the recipe, she fine-tuned the packing and the directions. Customer response, she said, has been positive.

“People are so much more food savvy today than they ever have been before,” she said. “There’s so much information out there, and people want something that’s quality and gourmet. There’s a craving for it.”

The upcoming challenge is one in a series of growth spurts for Delicately Delicious, which Goldbeck acquired in 2007 from a previous owner. For many years, the business sold only made-to-order cakes.

But Goldbeck decided to evolve the business three years ago, relocating from a commercial kitchen on Center Street to a retail storefront operation along Cedarburg’s bustling Washington Avenue corridor.

“It was good to perfect things,” Goldbeck said, in retrospect. All along, she said she aspired to morph Delicately Delicious into a retail bakery, but she believed the business could have failed if she made such a drastic change before making a series of tweaks.

In its retail iteration, Delicately Delicious features a variety of items that are sure to satisfy just about any person’s sweet tooth. She sells frosted single-layer cakes by the slice, but also showcases a range of cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods.

Early in 2013, Goldbeck expanded Delicately Delicious’ presence into the Bayshore Town Center. She operated a so-called pop-up kiosk shop for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. The response was so strong that she decided a year ago to have a presence at the mall full-time.

Goldbeck said she has a number of other projects on the horizon. In fact, one of them – selling a mix of her popular kitchen sink cookies – has just come to fruition. In late June, she began selling the product at the Piggly Wiggly store in Cedarburg.

Retail is a sector Goldbeck has been eyeing, both in a brick-and-mortar and online sense. She aspires to have her products featured through such companies as Williams-Sonoma, since they reach the same target consumer.

For Goldbeck, baking and growing Delicately Delicious has been a labor of love. When asked why she chose to concoct sweet creations, she offered a ready response.

“I enjoy meeting people in the community,” she said. “What’s been great about this is I help people with their celebrations. I get to see the progression in people’s lives for things like weddings, babies and graduations.”

From lacrossetribune.com: “Western grad following farm-to-table dreams” — Josh Powell has a vision. One day, he wants to be in the kitchen of his own restaurant. A customer might compliment his pork chops and ask where they came from, “and I can just point west,” Powell said.

And then, he’ll say something like: “See that pasture with those six hogs?”

After more than a decade in the culinary arts, the 32-year-old La Crosse native went back to school to learn more about the meat and vegetables that end up in his kitchen. Powell begins an internship at Organic Valley on Monday after graduating from Western Technical College’s agri-business science technology program.

“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” Powell said. “There were a couple times where I really thought about, ‘Is this the right idea?’ ”

Powell is one of 1,136 graduates who will be honored at 2 p.m. today at Western’s spring commencement ceremony in the La Crosse Center. College officials will grant 527 associate degrees and 242 technical diplomas, with 321 students graduating from Western’s certified nursing assistant program.

Powell’s Western degree marks his second spin at college. He also studied the culinary arts at Fox Valley Technical College, but he realized about two years ago that he needed to return to the world of higher education to realize his dream.

Powell wants to own a farm-to-table restaurant — a place that mixes modern cooking with “old-school” butchering, Powell said.

“I think butchering is kind of a dying art,” Powell said. “People don’t eat heart. People don’t eat liver. People don’t eat kidneys.”

Powell was the type of student who always added to the conversation in his classes at Western — often to talk about his favorite food, said Tracy Harper, an instructor and department head.

“Lots of discussions about bacon,” Harper said. “Every class.”

Powell’s passion for food was obvious, and it was infectious, Harper said.

His love for food dates back to the baked goods served up by his grandma and aunt. He wouldn’t settle for anything that wasn’t as tasty as his grandma’s cuisine, Powell said.

He started brushing up on his skills with different ingredients. About 12 years ago, he got a job at Syl’s Place, a Barre Mills supper club. Powell worked in the kitchen and behind the bar.

“Pouring drinks wasn’t really my thing,” Powell said. “I like playing with fire.”

He also has worked in kitchens at the La Crosse Country Club and restaurants in the Green Bay area.

“I was pretty lucky in my 12 years in the kitchen,” Powell said.

He was the executive chef at Pogreba in La Crosse but relinquished that title when he went back to school.

An unfortunate incident with a mechanical bull forced Powell to focus on his transition from cooking to agriculture. Nursing an injured elbow — compliments of the bull — Powell took two months off to focus on his studies.

Now, he’s back where he started, at Syl’s, but the horizon is completely changed. Western instructors and the people he met there have given him the ability to pursue his goals. They taught him things he could never have learned in the small garden of his childhood home on the North Side, Powell said.

He and some of his friends are raising livestock and testing recipes on family and friends, but Powell is focused on Organic Valley, where he’ll work this summer as an intern in the quality assurance department.

“Between a couple of my buddies, we’ve got to find a plan,” Powell said. “If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right.”

From postcrescent.com: “Fox Valley Celiacs bringing in gluten-free chef for demonstrations” — Rebecca Reilly used to skip school to stay home and cook.

“That was the time Julia Child and Graham Kerr were on television, and I was in a family where we did all the cooking,” the Massachusetts chef said. “My mother had three girls, and we were responsible for cooking because she was working, too.”

As an adult, the kitchen remained a safe haven for Reilly.

“The world was safe as long as I had my apron on,” she said.

Reilly is a classically French-trained chef with more than 20 years in signature cafés and high-end kitchens as head chef, sous chef, pastry chef and menu consultant. She also is nationally recognized as a gluten-free chef, instructor, author and food coach.

The latter is the result of learning in the mid-’90s that she, her daughter and her son all have celiac disease.

Fox Valley Celiacs support group has partnered with the Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program to bring Reilly, author of the bestselling cookbook, “Gluten Free Baking,” to Appleton on April 5. Reilly will teach gluten-free breads and desserts from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and gluten-free homemade pasta and simple meals from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Each session is $10.

Culinary arts students from FVTC will offer a gluten-free lunch between sessions for $8. Vendor booths offering gluten-free products in their stores will provide information, coupons and samples.

“The board of the Fox Valley Celiac Support Group is thrilled to be hosting chef Rebecca here in Appleton,” board member Rebecca Mailand said. “By partnering with Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program, we were able to make this a reality. Festival Foods has been a huge help as well by providing us with the ingredients chef Rebecca will use during her sessions. In addition, Festival Foods as well as Happy Bellies Bake Shop, the Free Market and Bulk Priced Foods will have vendor booths at the event.”

For Reilly, learning about celiac disease started with her son, now 22.

“My son was very sickly,” she said. “As a 5-year-old he couldn’t even walk across a basketball (court) without someone picking up and carrying him. And he couldn’t breathe. He was an emotional, physical mess.”

While allergy prick tests showed no sensitivity to gluten, blood work did.

Feeding her son gluten-free foods transformed not only his life, it also helped Reilly’s irritable bowel and made her daughter’s migraine headaches disappear.

“My son was a gift. I look at him as my gift to heal all three of us,” she said.

Reilly said she loves teaching people how to make flexible and delicious breads and pizza and more with alternative grains.

“People go, ‘Oh, my god. I can do this. I can have pumpernickel. I can have focaccia. I can have, I can have, I can have,’” she said. “When people take my class, it transforms their lives. … I am not about recipes. I’m about teaching you how to make it.”

From jsonline.com: “MATC’s culinary programs expand, benefitting students and public” – By Nancy J. Stohs – The culinary programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College have undergone major changes in the last couple of years, and the hungry public is as much a beneficiary as the students.

When the student-run Cuisine restaurant relocated in fall of 2012 to the first floor of the school’s main downtown campus, that opened up space on the sixth floor to add a second culinary skills lab and an international foods lab, both of which opened this past fall.

That made two things possible: the addition of four course requirements to the culinary arts curriculum — regional American cuisine, European/Mediterranean cuisine, Asian cuisine, and South and Central American cuisine — and to eliminate the program’s waiting list.

“In the past, we could take 35 new students a semester, or about 70 a year,” said Richard Busalacchi, associate dean of hospitality and food manufacturing programs at MATC. “Last fall we took in about 75 students and this spring 86 students.

“Anybody who applied to the culinary arts program got in.”

The baking and pastry arts program, similarly, nearly doubled its enrollment after a new baking and chocolate lab opened last fall on the first floor. Typically, 50 students would be admitted each year; this year, it was 80.

And that’s where the hungry public comes in. The new baking lab feeds a new student-run venue, the 6th Street Cafe, located across the hall from Cuisine. Opened last fall serving coffee and breakfast, it added lunch this semester.

That was based on a recommendation from the program’s advisory committee.

In order to stay competitive, “the bakeries we knew once upon a time that just did doughnuts and cookies and cakes have evolved,” Busalacchi explained. So while the students do learn how to bake, “they also end up with a solid skill set for the café operation.”

Soups ($2 cup, $3 bowl), salads ($4.95 to $6.95), sandwiches ($6 or $6.94), plus various coffee drinks, pastries, cold beverages and seven flavors of ice cream and sorbet are on the cafe’s menu, which changes slightly every few weeks.

Everything in the cafe is made from scratch, including the breads for sandwiches and the sorbets and ice creams, and — as in Cuisine — ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible.

Last week I sampled a zesty Oaxacan black bean soup, a flavorful spinach salad with walnuts, pears, chevre, grapes and balsamic vinaigrette and an applewood smoked ham and aged cheddar sandwich. Oh, and a couple of couldn’t-resist desserts sold in the adjoining 6th Street Bakery.

Like Cuisine, the cafe is open most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Café hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch service starts at 11:30). The café will close for the semester around the first week of May; Cuisine the second or third week.

Cuisine takes reservations (free through Open Table), while the cafe, which seats up to about 70 in two dining rooms and which also offers carryout, is walk-up service.

So far, promotion of the cafe has been internal word of mouth only.

Operating the 6th Street Cafe is the capstone class for the two-year baking and pastry arts program, just as operating Cuisine restaurant is the final course for culinary arts students. Graduation and job-hunting are next.

In addition to these two programs, MATC also added a two-year culinary management program about a year ago.

And where will all of these graduates find jobs?

Busalacchi isn’t worried. Statistics show that more than 800 new food service jobs — cooks, chefs, bakers and managers — are added annually within a 50-mile radius of downtown Milwaukee.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant and foodservice industry is the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, employing more than 13 million people, or 10% of the U.S. workforce.

What’s next?

The school is hoping to have Cuisine restaurant open for business some evenings in the spring of 2015 and that summer, Busalacchi said.

As for major changes, “we’re done for a while.”

From onmilwaukee.com: “Pastry Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer: Through the eyes of an apprentice” — World renowned pastry chef Jacquey Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School and author of the new book “The Art of French Pastry,” has won countless accolades for his tireless pursuit of perfection in pastry.

He has also been recognized for his exceptional mentorship, which he has extended to dozens of pastry students from Wisconsin. Some, like Chef Kurt Fogle of SURG Restaurant Group, who Pfeiffer mentions by name as a star pupil, have gone on to make their own marks on the world of pastry.

On January 12, Fogle and a team of some of the city’s finest culinary talent – including Chefs Justin Carlisle of Ardent, Matt Haase of Rocket Baby Bakery, Andrew Miller of Hom Woodfired Grill and Jarvis Williams of Carnevor — will host a dinner honoring Pfeiffer. The five course dinner will serve as a celebration of his life, his work, and his new book.

The menu is being kept under wraps, but Fogle says each chef will be pulling out the stops in an effort to pay homage to Pfeiffer.

“We all work together, and we’re all a little competitive,” Fogle remarks, “So, you know everyone is bringing their A-game. There’s something–without trying to sound like too much of a weirdo — about watching five guys really going for it. To be a person in the room experiencing those dishes.”

Fogle has a particular investment in the dinner, since Pfeiffer was a key influencer in setting the direction of his career.

During his tenure with Pfeiffer, Fogle was one of very few Americans who had the privilege of taking part in the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France), a competition captured in the documentary, “Kings of Pastry.”

NPR’s Ella Taylor remarked, “Kings of Pastry is about the craft, the teaching and learning, the collaborative work, the tedium, the heartbreak and emotional backbone it takes to make something lovely, even if that something is destined to disappear down a gullet in seconds — and even if the maker ends up a noble failure.”

“The whole damn experience was indelible,” Fogle says. “Working with Pfeiffer was two years of just having my mind blown day after day. And it was exhausting. Nothing will ever be harder than that. Nothing. I’m going to continue to challenge and push myself, but that’s the highest level.”

Working together created a professional and personal bond between the two chefs. Fogle says Pfieffer continued to be his mentor even after he left Chicago. In fact, it was Pfieffer who encouraged Fogle to move back to his home state of Wisconsin after completion of the competition.

“Since I was 15 working at O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, I had a passion for this part of the culinary world, and Pfeiffer encouraged me to come back and see where I could enhance pastry here,” he says.

He credits Pfeiffer with launching his career, as well as setting the direction for his art.

“To sum it up,” Fogle tells me, “He’s one of the best pastry chefs on the planet, and in turn I’m one of the luckiest apprentices to walk the planet.”

He went on to talk about some of the things he took away from his experience.

“I don’t want to say I didn’t learn to cook from him,” Fogle explains. “But what I really learned is how to think, how to be organized. He didn’t teach me how to bake, he taught me how to think.”

And for Fogle, part of that experience was learning that he could do anything to which he set his mind.

“One of the first things you learn from him is that anything is possible, because if it’s impossible we’re just going to create a technique or a tool or a trick to make it happen,” he tells me. “It wasn’t how to hold a spatula and fold mousse. It was the commitment and philosophical aspect I gained – learning to be tenacious and resourceful so that when I get out into the real world… when I don’t have a proofer or a sheeter– and I have an oven with hotspots hotter than Mercury — that I could still put out a great croissant.”

Fogle, who has known Pfeiffer since 2006, says he’s more than just a great teacher and pastry chef.

“He’s really really good at foozeball and ping-pong,” Fogle goes on. “Like he makes me feel bad about even playing against him.”

But, Fogle says his gentle disposition is what really makes Pfeiffer exceptional.

“In all the time I’ve known him, he’s never raised his voice,” he explains. “He’s the sort of guy who just makes you want to do things better – whether it’s pastry or what it is… he just never loses any steam. He’s ok going back and back and back and making things better and better. That’s really what rubbed off the most.”

Fogle, who teaches part-time at MATC in their culinary department, says he learned a great deal about teaching from Pfeiffer.

“I think the most important thing that I learned from him is that you have to be patient, and you have to let people struggle through it… a good example is that he was trying to teach me how to pipe something. I was struggling with holding the bag and not moving it. A couple of years later I realized I was doing it properly. But, I don’t know when it happened. He instilled in the idea that you just need to do it and do it again.”

So, when he teaches, Fogle says he always keeps that in mind.

“The fact is, I can’t talk you into being a good pastry chef, and I can’t make you into a great chef. But, I can be there for you and work with you and help you get there.”

Sounds like the sort of teacher we’d all love to have had.

From fox11online.com: “FVTC culinary students create elaborate gingerbread houses” — Culinary students at Fox Valley Technical College are creating elaborate gingerbread houses for a unique fundraiser.

The houses will be on display in the college’s commons area the week of December 16th.

They’ll be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the Culinary Arts program.

Instructor, Chef Sue Horvath, and student Jason Sargeant from Neenah joined Good Day Wisconsin Tuesday to give some tips on constructing and decorating your own gingerbread house.

 

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