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Wisconsin’s 2014 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge Recap
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Home Blogs Alcoholmanac Blog Wisconsin’s 2014 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge Recap
Wisconsin’s 2014 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge Recap
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Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge LogoBy Dave McGraw
Photos provided by Paul Fredrich

Wisconsin, especially Milwaukee, is a haven for foodies. Discerning members of the food world have long viewed our culture as a true testing ground―if it succeeds here, it will likely succeed elsewhere. The 2014 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge is exactly the kind of event that helps to reveal what that next foodie trend may be. The Challenge saw its final round of judging on Thursday, July 17. Here is a recap of the event.

There are two categories for this competition: Startup & Early Stage. This year, Top Note Tonics won the Startup category, while poSaNa Organics won the Early Stage category. The Hottest Kitchen Challenge seeks to help new business concepts get off the ground (Startup) and give them the much-needed push that a new business needs (Early Stage) to really start making waves in their market. The contestants are all about filling a niche on the local level.


Mary Pellettieri of Top Note Tonics, 2014's Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Startup Winner | Photo by Paul Fredrich


Top Note Tonics produces non-alcoholic aperitivo sodas styled after their Italian-bred forerunners. These herbal tonics include flavors such as lemon, orange, vanilla, clove and ginger in their three flagship offerings. Top Note Tonics uses half the sugar of regular sodas and, being a bitter aperitivo, they will appeal to those who look for something a bit different. Unique yet approachable, these are perfect for drinking as standalone non-alcoholic drinks, but mix especially well with alcohol. These are sodas that round off the bitterness of their herbal nature with the topnote flavors of lemon, orange and gentian tonic.


Robyn Wright of poSaNa Organics, 2014's Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Early Stage Winner | Photo by Paul Fredrich


poSaNa Organics, the winner of the Early Stage category, specializes in selling baking mixes that are organic, gluten-free, low-glycemic and have no refined sugars and use only sprouted, organic grains. After noticing a surprising lack of products in this foodie (and allergen-aware) genre, poSaNa Organics was inspired to create nourishing, nutrient-dense products that are not just delicious, but also offer unique ingredient combinations. Partnered with local tea importers, Rishi Tea, poSaNa features a baking mix for Rishi Blueberry Rooibos-Infused Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins. This new company is providing consumers with with healthful, gluten-free and (hopefully soon-to-be-certified) organic baking products for the home kitchen.


This was a tough competition: all six competitors had fantastic concepts that focused on local, organic and sustainable development. The quality, craft and inventiveness seen at the 2014 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge rivaled that of any major food challenge such as this. Congratulations to all the competitors for showing Wisconsin’s true foodie quality!

Learn more about this competition here on Reliable Water Services' website and in this OnMilwaukee.com article.