Bronzeville Sausage Co
Company: Bronzeville Sausage Co
Fellow: Eugene Shelby
Bronzeville Sausage produces all natural smoked chicken sausage for a healthy alternative to beef and pork. All products are non-GMO, gluten free, Halal, and Amish certified. Learn more about Bronzeville Sausage at http://www.bronzevillesausage.com/.
Fellow: Jessica Gartenstein & Erik Nadeau,
Frönen produces a line of delicious, non-dairy ice creams made with 5 simple ingredients or fewer. All flavors are low in sugar and fat, allergen friendly, paleo, and vegan with a low-glycemic index making it the perfect guilt-free indulgence. Learn more about Frönen at https://eatfronen.com
Erik studied public policy and environmental studies at the University of Chicago and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. As a fourth-generation entrepreneur, he founded a student sustainable energy team, created a campus-wide green energy campaign, and worked with farmers markets as the president of the Green Economics Group. He strives to offer healthy food options without compromising taste or satisfaction.
The College New Venture Challenge, a business plan and pitch competition at the University of Chicago, incentivized him to explore entrepreneurship. Recalling a family recipe, he realized he could offer a guilt-free indulgence with pure ingredients — which became the basis for Frönen.
With a passion for the environment, Erik Nadeau embraced the need for pure, sustainable food. He is conscious of the food items he eats, as well as the conditions in which they are cultivated. Erik has been interested in the transparency and traceability of both energy and food sources, from exploring renewable energy technologies in China to researching banana biodiversity in Ecuador.
Jessica Gartenstein is a co-founder of Frönen Foods, a natural food company whose first product line, Frönen, is a non-dairy frozen dessert made with 5 ingredients or fewer. Frönen was awarded first place in the 2017 College New Venture Challenge at the Booth School of Business. Prior to Frönen, Jessica worked at firms including Morgan Stanley and GCM Grosvenor, the independent alternative asset management firm. Jessica graduated from the University of Chicago with general honors as well as honors in the Public Policy Department.
Fellow: Giorgios Karayannis
Kolossos produces premium 100% Greek extra virgin olive oils and organic wine vinegars with beautiful characteristics that can be utilized as culinary ingredients, and contain a wealth of health properties. Learn more about Kolossos at https://www.kolossos.co/.
Giorgios Karayannis can recall the inside walls of a restaurant ever since he was in diapers: A place he would call his second home, and a place where he learned to appreciate quality food and hospitality. It excited him to be in that environment as he held almost all positions in the front of house and back of house, short of being a chef and wine sommelier.
Although one would assume that the restaurant business should have been embedded with him, it was not entirely. Even at the tender age of 17, he had this undying desire to start and build a business involving Greece, his parents’ birthplace and his beloved travel destination.
While working at his family’s several restaurants, Giorgios discovered and shared what he refers to as a prideful appreciation for Greece and her incredible agricultural products. This pride, along with his desire to promote his parents’ homeland during difficult economic times, led him to develop a plan to present his passion for high-quality food, well-being, and entrepreneurship by founding Kolossos in 2011. As an avid self-care promoter, his goal is to educate, inspire and guide his community to be mindful of a health-conscious lifestyle in order to improve their overall quality way of life.
Always aspiring to learn and be active, Giorgios is a Level 1 olive oil sommelier, enjoys fitness, sports such as golf, surrounding himself around his loved ones and, when time allows, exploring the world further.
Fellow: LaForce Baker
Moon Meals provides tasty, plant-based grab-and-go meals for the modern consumer, utilizing a combination of proprietary vegan meats, cheeses and sauces. Moon Meals’ first product, the Fiesta Wrap, is a vegan burrito full of flavor and healthful plant-based ingredients. Learn more about Moon Meals at https://www.moonmeals.com/meals/fiesta-wrap/.
Company: Sacred Serve
Fellow: Kailey Donewald
Sacred Serve’s vegan gelato combines raw, certified organic Thai young coconuts with low glycemic coconut sugar and superfoods to create a nutrient-dense, rich and creamy gelato. Sacred Serve comes in several unique flavors that are low in sugar, Paleo, and strictly free of all gluten, dairy, soy, GMOs, stabilizers and preservatives. Learn more at http://sacredserve.com
Kailey is a passionate wellness advocate who has spent 10 years traveling and living in places such as India and Indonesia, studying under leading practitioners in the fields of yoga, meditation, Eastern medicine and alternative therapies. During that time, she first discovered the powerful connection between diet and disease — having healed herself of several chronic conditions through a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet alone.
She went on to study with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Dr. Deepak Chopra, leader in the field of mind-body medicine; Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center; and Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University, all with the goal of empowering others in reclaiming their health.
After years in financial consulting, she left to found her holistic health coaching practice where she worked with clients to uncover the root causes of dis-ease and bring balance and vitality back into their lives.
Sacred Serve was born out of a desire to affect greater change across a broader landscape. Through delivering raw, nutrient-dense treats to market, Sacred Serve drives positive consumer habits by eliminating the tradeoff between premium indulgence and powerful nutrition.
Kailey holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, is a Certified Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Board Certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and a registered 200-hour yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance.
The ZenSweet Company
Company: The ZenSweet Company
Fellow: Michelle Francis-Winer and Corey Winer
The ZenSweet Company produces an all-natural Monkfruit Sweetener and better-for-you baking mixes that combine their original Monkfruit Sweetener with clean ingredients. Their Monkfruit Sweetener is a non-GMO, zero-glycemic, zero-calorie, Vegan, Keto and Paleo-friendly sugar replacement that measures cup for cup to sugar. The baking mixes are all grain- and gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, and packed with flavor! Learn more at https://www.zensweet.com
The ZenSweet Company creates consistently delicious, innovative food that is guaranteed to be healthy and sugar-free. Challenged to find quality products for their own family, Corey and Michelle in 2015 began packaging wholesome family recipes that are quick and easy-to-make. They say, “We have a passion for food and service and bring you our best homemade recipes. From our deep-rooted love of food and people, our family’s mission is to create healthy alternatives for all to enjoy.”
Fellow: Lori and Elise Lefcourt
Unicreamer is a portable vegan coffee creamer that is clean label. It contains 3 grams of plant protein and 3 grams of MCT oil per serving, making it a supercharged alternative to standard coffee creamer, with the power to keep you full and focused. Their proprietary formulations are made to dissolve into liquids and make coffee creamy, delicious, and better for you. Learn more at https://unicreamer.com
Lori and Elise, co-founders and sisters, grew up in the Midwest and moved pursue their big-city dreams.
Lori felt an immediate pull to the energy of New York City. She spent the first six years of her career working on Wall Street, traveling the world as an interest rate swap broker for emerging markets. In the midst of a crackdown on Wall Street regulations, she pivoted and collaborated in building an electronic side of the business, and went on to become one of the top revenue-generating female brokers in her company.
The main inspiration for Unicreamer actually started during Lori’s Wall Street years, when her hectic lifestyle lead to various health issues and weight gain. Supplementing her coffee with vitamins and protein throughout the day was the driving force behind her new- found health, and she knew she could help others as well. After leaving Wall Street, she realized that her true passion was in entrepreneurship and helping others to pursue their dreams and live their best lives.
Elise moved to Chicago shortly after finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Elise pursued a career in sales and marketing, quickly becoming a top sales rep with her ability to leverage relationships and close business deals. Working for both small start-ups and large corporations has given her the knowledge to run the sales and marketing aspects of Unicreamer.
Fellow: Brittany Chibe
Within/Without creates better-for-you snacks that nourish from within. Their granola caters to the consumer with dietary restrictions, and is free from grains, gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugars. Made with eight all-natural ingredients or fewer, Within Without granola is filled with healthy fats and protein, and is low in carbohydrates and sugar, with a chewy texture and unique flavors that will have you coming back for more. Learn more at https://www.withinwithout.com
While training for her first half-marathon, Brittany Chibe developed chronic inflammation in her ankle that would not heal using traditional methods. Searching for a solution, she learned about the Paleo diet and using food as medicine to heal the body from within.
This new way of eating not only healed her injury but improved her energy and sleep, and so it quickly turned into a new lifestyle. It became difficult, however, to find clean-ingredient snacks at the grocery store, so she began making her own nut-based granolas to take with her on-the-go. On a mission to share this transformative experience with the world and make clean eating easy and accessible, she brought her granolas to market in 2014.
Brittany earned her MBA in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from University of Illinois at Chicago and bachelor’s degree in Agricultural & Consumer Economics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to founding Within/Without, Brittany spent 10 years as a National Account Manager at Schreiber Foods, selling dairy products to the nation’s largest restaurant chains and grocery retailers.
Fellow: Shibani Baluja
lil’gourmets strives to be the guilt-free baby food option for parents. Their mission is to spread the joy of seeing babies discover new flavors with nutritious, organic, flavorful meals they love eating and you love serving. Designed to help expand baby’s palates and teach them that vegetables are yummy, lil’gourmets starts with unique vegetable combos and adds a hint of complex spice blends to create flavorful baby food without the overuse of fruit. Their products are high pressure pasteurized (HPP) and refrigerated to ensure safety without sacrificing nutrients or flavor, and the end result is a delicious, clean-ingredient product with no added sugar or salt. Check out lil’gourmets at www.lilgourmets.com.
Shibani Baluja launched her lil’gourmets baby food products in early 2018. The idea behind lil’gourmets came to her in 2013, when her son was starting to eat solids and she realized that the baby food market consisted of overly processed, bland or sweet products. Not wanting to feed him what was available on the market, she started batch cooking each Sunday so he would have flavorful, healthy meals all week. As he grew older, she could see the impact that exposing him to a variety of flavors was having on his palate, which further strengthened her desire to launch lil’gourmets. While developing the products in 2016, she had her second child, who served as the perfect tester to help her perfect her recipes!
Before being consumed by baby food, Shibani was most recently a member of the mergers and acquisitions team at Kraft Foods. She holds her BA in Economics and MBA from the University of Michigan.
The Farinata Project
Company: The Farinata Project
Fellow: Ali Cole
The Farinata Project recreates tasty, Italian flatbread for the modern American market. From the streets of Italy to your table, Farinata is a beautiful, wholesome chickpea bread, both naturally grain free and high in protein. Farinata bread has been around for centuries, lovingly baked in the hills of the Ligurian coast of Italy. In today’s marketplace, consumers are looking for bread alternatives. This flatbread is a tasty alternative for discerning eaters everywhere.
Ali Cole, founder of The Farinata Project, is a serial entrepreneur with a curiosity for interesting creative intersections. While living in Italy, spending time with locals and experimenting with regionally published cookbooks, Ali discovered farinata for her first time. A number of years later, she introduced this much-loved, traditional Italian food to the American market.
Prior to The Farinata Project, Ali worked extensively with makers in art and design, spending many years focused on career development, sales, marketing and public relations in the digital start-up space; product and furniture design; and nonprofit arts. Ali has a B.A. in Art and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her M.A. in Arts Administration from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Company: Tempo Beverages
Fellow: Ryan Crane
Tempo started with a vibrant line of sparkling teas, crafted to deliver a guilt-free boost of natural energy. Inspired by their search for an uplifting beverage that didn’t rely upon sugar or sweeteners for flavor, co-founders Ryan Crane and Austin Gallagher started Tempo with a vision to create a bottle of “clean energy” that could elevate any experience – from a music festival to an office lunch.
Tempo teas deliver the revitalizing power of premium teas, alongside the vibrancy of international spices, within a fun and flavorful beverage. Each bottle is USDA organic-certified, with zero calories and no added sugars or sweeteners. Good food is good fuel, so twist and enjoy!
Since graduating from the Good Food Accelerator in 2018, Tempo added a line of CBD-infused wellness shots. Check out Tempo at www.tempobev.com.
Ryan brought nearly a decade of professional experience in business and finance to Tempo. Throughout his early career, Ryan developed deep understanding of the corporate strategy and financial DNA that fuel consumer-facing companies.
Ryan holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (honors), and holds an A.B. in Neuroscience / Psychology from Princeton University (magna cum laude). He is also a CFA Charter holder.
Company: Cultured Love
Fellows: Jodie and Paul Krumpe
Cultured Love offers irresistible, all-organic sauerkrauts in five delicious flavors. Cultured Love’s mission is to revolutionize the way people think about what and why they eat, introducing them to probiotic-rich foods that have a direct impact on their well-being. Cultured Love was born out of a desire to make good food possible for anyone, starting with ready-to-eat, nutrient-dense krauts, recipes, and education in how to incorporate more of these amazing traditional foods into their daily diet. Check out Cultured Love at www.culturedlove.com.
Cultured Love was established by Jodie and Paul Krumpe in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2014. After assisting her daughter’s healing from chronic illness for seven years, Cultured Love founder Jodie Krumpe came to recognize very clearly the connection between what we eat, our gut health, and how we feel, how we think, how we heal.
Because fermented foods are a great source of gut-healing probiotics, she took up fermentation, and was eventually inspired to start Cultured Love along with Paul Krumpe, her husband and co-founder.
Company: Departure Snacks
Fellow: Conor McInerney
Departure Snacks was created out of a love for travel and a passion for food. The company created healthy snacks that highlight exotic spice blends from around the world, using responsibly produced whole food ingredients. By tasting their delicious and authentic flavors, consumers are able to experience another culture firsthand. Check out their website at departuresnacks.com
As a self-proclaimed travel junky, Conor McInerney recognized early that food was always the best part of traveling. This sparked an insatiable curiosity to always explore new flavors. From working on an organic farm in high school to brewing beer in college, Conor has always had an intimate relationship with the food he eats.
When his cousin Aidan introduced him to the world of spice, he felt an immediate connection to cultures around the world and knew these flavors had to be shared with the American market.
Conor studied marketing at Michigan State University and has always had a strong entrepreneurial drive. Throughout college he bought and sold cars, founded a beverage company, and helped grow an altruistic energy drink startup based in Detroit. He enjoys leading a healthy outdoor lifestyle and believes that every day is an opportunity to learn.
ready to BRANDS
Company: ready to BRANDS
Fellow: Mark Muller
Led by Mark Muller, ready to BRANDS is on a mission to create innovative functional foods designed to help you feel your best, no matter what life has in store. Their delicious organic remedies provide relief to those suffering common ailments where traditional medicine falls short. Learn more at https://readytobrands.com/
Mark Muller is a native of Chicago with a background in banking and risk management. He is a seasoned financial practitioner with 11 years of experience, spanning global banking and fintech institutions.
At The Northern Trust Company, Mark built and ran the Derivative Valuations and Analytics desk in Melbourne, Australia, supporting the valuation of more than $100 billion in notional exposures across Asia Pacific markets and paving the way for significant institutional account growth. Prior to that, Mark was a risk manager covering capital market operations in North America.
Earlier in his career, Mark helped position Chicago-based startup OptionsXpress for success in navigating the financial collapse of 2008 by building and managing a system for monitoring market risk across 250,000 + derivative brokerage accounts. OptionsXpress was acquired by Charles Schwab in 2011 for $1 billion.
Mark is a CFA Charter Holder and has a degree in finance from Miami of Ohio. In his free time, Mark enjoys traveling, making music and most importantly spending time with his wife and daughter.
Company: Verzênay Patisserie
Fellow: Aqeel Wahiduddin
Verzênay was started in 2014 by Chef Arshiya Farheen and her husband Aqeel Wahiduddin with a stand at Chicago’s famed Green City Market in Lincoln Park. Verzênay’s mission is to make great-tasting, chef-crafted breakfasts and desserts with clean, locally sourced ingredients, which also support economic development for women. Every product at Verzênay is a refinement in taste and texture. Experience as much pleasure in trying out their pastries as they had in making them. Check out www.verzenaypatisserie.com.
With years of passion and experience in baking, pâtissière and owner Arshiya spent more than a year in Paris, where she studied at Ferrandi, the French school of culinary arts,, and also worked at Hotel Le Meurice and at the boulangerie-pâtisserie Delmontel. She returned to her hometown of Chicago and with Aqeel, her husband and partner, began her career by selling at the Green City Market, hotels and other bakeries.
Growing up in India, training in Paris & living in Chicago, Chef Arshiya has refined her approach to creating flavorful pastries, cakes, desserts and other baked goods.
Arshiya leads her team in turning out new products, training, and mentoring. Arshiya also actively sets Verzênay’s future direction, learning and seeking ways to source local and sustainably grown products.
Aqeel’s experience comes from working for more than 14 years in the food industry, developing natural and organic products for regional and national retailers and for manufacturers, driving innovation with his consumer and shopper insights expertise. Aqeel leads the team in driving innovation, marketing, sales, and building relationships with the suppliers and customer community.
No Denial Foods
Company: No Denial Foods
Fellow: Debbie Wood
No Denial Foods was created to specialize in desserts and treats that are grain-free (naturally gluten-free) and are low in sugar. Debbie Wood started No Denial Foods in 2016 because of her health journey with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, and her struggle to find delicious treats and snacks that still allowed her to pay attention to her health. No Denial Foods committed to providing consumers with more health-conscious foods that are sweet-tooth-satisfying and healthy at the same time. Check out No Denial Foods at www.nodenialfoods.com.
Everybody loves dessert, but that’s a problem for Debbie Wood, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 9 and celiac disease at age 32. Finding food that’s both gluten-free and doesn’t wreak havoc on her blood sugar was an everyday struggle.
Extra sugar and simple starches are mainstays in most snacks and desserts, including gluten-free products, so Debbie’s solution was to hit the kitchen and bake for herself. She started with a salty-sweet snack nut mix that she could eat on the go, on top of yogurt or sprinkled on fruit. Soon health-conscious friends, neighbors and co-workers – and their friends – clamored for the nut mix, prompting Debbie to start No Denial Foods in 2016.
Before jumping into the food business, Debbie was a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker in Chicago for 15 years. She averaged $10 million in sales per year and served as managing broker for the Lakeview, Chicago office from 2014-2016. Prior to her career in real estate, she worked as an event planner at Levy Restaurants, managing event spaces and catering at Navy Pier and Bistro 110.
A Chicago-area native, Debbie graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in art education. Very early in the launch of No Denial Foods, Debbie was featured on the Hungry Hound with Steve Dolinsky, written up in Food Navigator and a subject of the The Uplifted, a photography series featuring individuals doing inspiring things.
of the Pies
Justice of the Pies
Company: Justice of the Pies
Fellow: Maya-Camille Broussard
Justice of the Pies is a bakery that specializes in sweet and savory pies, quiches and tarts. Maya-Camille Broussard established Justice of the Pies in 2014 in honor of her late father Stephen J. Broussard, a criminal defense attorney with a passion for baking and eating anything made with a crust! Justice of the Pies is committed to delivering amazing pies, quiches and tarts while positively impacting the lives of those who work for the company. Learn more about Justice of the Pies at www.justiceofthepies.com.
Creative entrepreneur and culinary artist Maya-Camille Broussard established Justice of the Pies in 2014. Justice of the Pies was created to celebrate Maya’s late father’s love for pies and to honor his belief that everyone deserves an opportunity to reform their lives. Part of Maya’s mission is to work with and empower individuals who have experienced barriers to employment.
Before diving into the world of pie, Maya was a curator and art consultant. From 2009 to 2012, Maya was the owner and curator behind Chicago’s Three Peas Art Lounge, working to make viewing and collecting art less intimidating for young professionals. In 2012 she started The MCB Project to document her design projects. The blog TheMCBProject.com expanded to include other facets of the arts and culture including film, literature, culinary arts, fashion, product design, travel and more.
A Chicago native, Broussard is a graduate of Howard University (B.F.A.) and Northwestern University (M.A.).
Fellows: Jordan Buckner and Isaac Lozano
Jordan Buckner, Isaac Lozano, Adi Malik and Alex Stomp co-founded TeaSquares, a snack with a purpose to give people the fuel to achieve their passions, and a social mission to fuel economic development in urban centers. TeaSquares are infused with naturally occurring caffeine from organic tea, grown without the use of artificial ingredients or preservatives. Each bite-size square is light and airy, packed with wholesome puffed millet, crunchy almonds, and flavorful fruits. The TeaSquares team plans to grow their business while simultaneously empowering the South Side Chicago community in which the company is based.
The TeaSquares team is passionate about creating a snack that satisfies our demand for energy through real, whole foods. In a world flooded with artificial energy foods and drinks, TeaSquares infuses organic tea grown without the use of artificial ingredients or preservatives, in order to provide wholesome, nurturing energy. TeaSquares are among the few snacks currently on the market that use naturally occurring caffeine from tea leaves to provide energy, in a way that traditional snacks do not.
The team manufactures TeaSquares in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, one of the most economically deprived communities in the city. They are currently working to hire young adults in the neighborhood to bring jobs, knowledge, and workforce skills to Englewood. Visit www.myteasquares.com.
Jordan Buckner is a foodpreneur. He holds an MBA from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan. His goal is to create nutritious, good foods that improve communities.
Isaac Lozano is an MBA graduate from the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign. At TeaSquares, he oversees marketing and sales and has helped them establish their branding, marketing, and overall business strategy within the Midwest and nationwide. Originally from East Chicago, he understands the importance of civic duty and his obligation to provide social equity by employing local inner-city youth at TeaSquares.
Adi Malik is a business & operations professional, having consulted with startups and Fortune 500 companies on developing new business opportunities and strategic growth plans. Adi’s dual background in business and engineering leads him to examine complex, often ambiguous organizational issues through a quantitative lens.
Alex Stomp is a design strategist with experience in graphic and web design. Alex was an equity partner in an education startup where he designed and launched their website.
Fellows: Michele Gazzolo and Beth Denton
In 2012, friends Michele Gazzolo and Beth Denton began a quest for a refreshing and unequivocally healthy alternative to sugary soda. Four years later, Fruitbelt became the world’s first sparkling fruit tonic: festive and unabashedly tart, blending the juice from pressed apples and other varietals with honey and proprietary bitters, allowing the taste of unvarnished fruit to come alive.
Every bottle of Fruitbelt combines clean ingredients with reduced sugar content, a true portion size and authentic flavor. While most sparkling fruit sodas are made with fruit concentrate, added sugar and/or chemical sweeteners, Beth and Michele use pressed juice and honey, and include naturally aromatic bitters that include herbs known to enhance digestion. Fruitbelt is certified gluten-free, sodium free, and caffeine free. It is also free of added sugar and any artificial ingredients, and each ingredient contained in the bitters is native to the Fruitbelt region of Southwest Michigan.Visit www.fruitbelt.com.
Michele Gazzolo was raised to be a merchant, hearing tales about margins, service and innovation from her father and grandfather, who founded a wholesale pharmaceutical distribution business at the turn of the 20th century. With a formal education in religion and anthropology and experience in retail, capital and business team formation, Michele brings a reformer’s heart to a tall endeavor: bottling a drink that will remind us all that the taste of real fruit and the experience of a real orchard cannot be replaced. Fruitbelt Tonic tells the stories of heirloom apple orchards and the people who tend them, connecting a proud and colorful history to a vibrant and sustainable future.
Pleasant House Pub
Company: Pleasant House Pub
Fellows: Art and Chelsea Jackson
Pleasant House Pub, located in the Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, is the business home of husband and wife Art and Chelsea Jackson. It emerged in 2016 from the Pleasant House Bakery, which they had started in 2011 in a different part of the city. Pleasant House quickly became a household name in Chicago, known for their distinctive British-inspired, locally sourced menu, with savory meat and vegetarian Royal PiesTM as the centerpiece. Check out The Pleasant House here: http://www.pleasanthousepub.com/
Inspired by stories of the Pleasant House kitchen and gardens, husband and wife Art and Chelsea Jackson opened Pleasant House Bakery in Chicago in 2011, specializing in British-inspired, locally sourced food and featuring produce from their urban farm, Pleasant Farms. Their signature Royal PiesTM—handmade, artisanal meat and vegetable pies—quickly became beloved throughout the Chicago area.
In 2015 the couple opened Pleasant House Bread, a bakery specializing in naturally leavened, wood-oven breads made with locally sourced grains milled onsite. In 2016 co-chef/owners Art and Chelsea moved Pleasant House Bakery to their new location in Pilsen, adding a café and bar featuring English and other specialty ales, and changing the name to Pleasant House Pub.
Art has worked at lauded restaurants such as Les Nomades in Chicago and Fifth Floor in San Francisco. He graduated from Illinois State University and attended Chicago’s Kendall College, a culinary arts school. Chelsea is a writer and editor, and pastry chef for Pleasant House. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and Kendall College.
Field & Farmer
Field & Farmer .
|President and Co-Founder of Field & Farmer
Company: Field + Farmer
Fellows: Megan Klein
The story of Field + Farmer began with an indoor urban farm called Farmed Here, an early leader in the Chicago area’s local food movement, which grew greens and herbs for the region’s market. To reduce waste, the company started using basil seconds to make salad dressing under the Here label. The dressing was a hit, the brand grew, and the company’s leaders realized that they could have a greater impact and support other farmers by shifting their focus from growing produce to creating fresh clean-label, plant-based products. And to emphasize the importance of our farmers, in 2019 they officially changed the company name from Here to Field + Farmer.
Field + Farmer seeks out the highest-quality produce they can find for every Field + Farmer dip, dressing, and juice. All of their products contain fresh produce grown by family farmers. Learn more at https://fieldandfarmer.co/
Megan Klein is president and co-founder of Field + Farmer. She has extensive experience in food and small business law, food safety, and local foods advocacy, and she is committed to inclusive hiring practices.
Prior to joining Farmed Here and developing the Here products line, Megan worked with the City of Chicago and nonprofit groups to improve Chicago’s permitting and licensing of urban farms. She also served as an associate in Chadbourne & Parke LLP’s energy practice group, and later worked at Earthjustice as an environmental and sustainable foods advocate.
Her food policy experience includes having served as the Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Food Law Committee (2014-2015) as a Board Member of the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council (2011-2015), and advocating extensively on behalf of the aquaponic and hydroponic industries.
She holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, a certificate from the New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute, and a B.A. from Boston College.
The Eating Well
Company: The Eating Well
Fellow: Daniel Sikorski
The Eating Well, led by Chef Daniel Sikorski, is a specialty food company that prioritizes Good Food first. Dedicated to local sourcing and clean ingredients, The Eating Well makes paleo, vegan and gluten-free meals and snacks, including four varieties of vegetable burgers. Visit www.eatingwellonline.com.
Daniel has been on a quest for good flavor and good food for as long as he can remember. Growing up with a mother who did not enjoy cooking, Daniel looked to his Calabrian grandparents for culinary inspiration. At 10 years old he called up his grandma and asked, “How do you cook pasta?” That was the beginning of his culinary career.
At age 14, Daniel lied about his age in order to get his first job at Wags. That job launched him into the Chicago restaurant world, and he has never looked back. In 2006, Daniel left his job as an Executive Chef to join a start-up and help build Chicago’s first LEED Certified Organic QSR as their Corporate Chef/Director of Nutrition. Building on the knowledge he gained from that opportunity, he went on to co-own and manage a gluten-free, organic, full service restaurant in Naperville, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.
Decades of experience in the restaurant industry coupled with a passion for good food led Daniel to create his newest concept, The Eating Well. He hopes to use his experience, passion and knowledge to share good, clean, and local food with everyone. Daniel wants us all to “Say No to Food on Drugs! ”
Company: Simply Native
Fellow: Colin Tomkins-Bergh
Simply Native was created to inspire adventures and healthy lifestyles with the simplest and most nutritious ingredients, exclusively using plants indigenous to North America to make Ancient Foods for Modern Times™. Products were designed to be highly nutritious, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, quick-cooking and versatile.
Colin Tomkins-Bergh, director of sales and marketing for Simply Native Foods,enjoyed the outdoors since his childhood growing up on the family’s organic grass-fed beef farm. His love of nature and conscious upbringing led him to be an outdoor enthusiast and to eat organically and as locally as possible. After graduating from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Colin worked at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as a research associate, exploring entrepreneurship ecosystems across the U.S. and the agriculture technology sector.
Company: Skinny Souping
Fellow: Alison Velazquez
Skinny Souping is a health-benefit-driven soup company featuring preservative-free sippable soups that are delicious hot or cold. Wellness expert and author Alison Velazquez started Skinny Souping in 2014 with a mission to create high-quality, innovative that enable people to conveniently eat healthy on the go.
Skinny Souping offers fresh, preservative-free and gluten-free soups that can be consumed hot or chilled. Leveraging the intrinsic health benefits of fresh vegetables, the hydration from water and antioxidants from a variety of spices, Skinny Souping offers unique soup blends that are not only delicious but also functional.
Naturally low in sugar, high in fiber and antioxidant rich, they are both convenient and nourishing. The vegan line of soups and slow-simmered bone broths are made with as many locally sourced and responsibly farmed ingredients as possible, making them both good for you and the planet.
Alison holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a culinary degree from Kendall College.
Full Belly Foods
Company: Full Belly Foods
Fellow: Mitch Wasserman
Full Belly Foods provides all natural, never cooked or processed, healthy, delicious and unique artisan pickles and pickled vegetables: clean food just as nature intended!
In addition to cucumber pickles, the Full Belly line includes several delicious pickled vegetable varieties including pickled curry cauliflower, spicy French green beans, hot carrots, oil-free Giardinera, red onions and even a beer brined pickle. Each proprietary recipe boasts a unique flavor profile. Check out www.fullbellypickles.com.
Mitch Wasserman opened Full Belly in 2012 as an artisan kitchen producing hand pies, savory muffins, focaccia, granola, soups and a few varieties of pickles for retail sale in Highwood, Illinois. By mid-2014 Full Belly had morphed into a fulltime pickle manufacturer, and increased the product line to 12 products available at retailers in the Chicago market.
Company: ‘Laine’s Bake Shop
Fellow: Rachel Bernier-Green
Rachel Bernier-Green launched ‘Laine’s Bake Shop in 2013. She is owner and head baker at her full-service bakery with catering, online, and brick and mortar retail components.
‘Laine’s provides delicious treats with a conscience,” Rachel says. “Our goal is to impact the people around us by investing in our neighborhood, sourcing ingredients responsibly, hiring locally, and giving back to worthy causes.”
After developing a growing number of retail placements for her delicious baked goods, Rachel opened the first ‘Laine’s physical location in the Morgan Park community on Chicago’s far South Side. In 2019, she became one of the founding vendors in One Eleven Food Hall, located in the Pullman community and the first food hall on Chicago’s South Side, with the Morgan Park location converted to a production bakery.
Visit their website: www.lainesbakeshop.com.
Rachel grew up creating delicious treats in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother and always dreamed of turning her passion into a business. She was a serial teenpreneur and one of her first businesses was selling her baked goods at a stand in her grandmother’s yard. Rachel continued to hone her craft and her plan even as she pursued a career in the intense field of finance and public accounting.
She launched her company in 2013 to serve customers nationwide online, while locally baking her treats for weddings, celebrations, non-profit organizations, and corporate clients including Fortune 100 companies.
Rachel holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Finance and Accounting and a Master of Science degree in Taxation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The Cider Farm
Company: The Cider Farm
Fellows: Deirdre Birmingham and John Biondi
The Cider Farm is the project of Deirdre Birmingham and John Biondi. Their 166-acre, certified organic orchard in southwest Wisconsin produces true cider apples—apples bred for the production of alcoholic beverages.The Cider Farm’s products are faithful to the traditions of the masters who make Europe’s finest brandy and ciders.
The Cider Farm produces a Calvados-style apple brandy and complex, dry hard ciders. Deirdre and John have spent the last 14 years grafting and cultivating heirloom varieties of British and French true cider apples that have the bitter flavors, acids, and tannins essential for the production of fine brandy and dry hard cider. Check out the www.theciderfarm.com.
Deirdre manages day-to-day operations in the orchard. She holds a Masters of Science degree in soil science from the University of Illinois and a joint Ph.D. in land resources and agriculture extension from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. John is responsible for financing, marketing, sales, and business strategy. He holds a MBA from Georgia State University, and a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Company: Sofrito Foods
Fellow: Daniel Caballero
Sofrito Foods, which sells under the Fillo’s Americas Made brand, produces clean-label Latin American bean products using transparently sourced ingredients. Sofrito Foods has enjoyed significant growth with its line of heat-and-eat seasoned, organic bean products based on traditional recipes from a variety of countries and locales. Dan describes Sofrito as “made the traditional way, sautéing fresh whole ingredients to create a traditional product with superior flavor.” Check out www.cocinadefillo.kitchen.
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Daniel Caballero is a second-generation Cuban American who gained food industry experience while working in his family meat-packing business. Dan recognized an opportunity in the marketplace for a line of authentic Hispanic foods products made with clean, transparently sourced ingredients.
“Many second-generation Hispanics lament that they can’t find prepared products that taste quite as good as homemade beans made from traditional recipes,” says Dan. “Authentic sofrito beans are prepared with a flavorful base of sautéed onions, garlic, bell peppers, and other spices. While most bean products on the market are seasoned with dehydrated powders and flavorings, our products are made the traditional way, sautéing fresh whole ingredients to create a traditional sofrito with superior flavor.”
Dan also notes, “Beans are an excellent super food that appeal to a much broader non-Hispanic market—vegetarian, vegans, and those who want to incorporate more whole foods in their diets. Many prepared bean options lack flavor and fail to do justice to this wholesome, healthy food.”
Company: Karma Kombucha
Fellow: Susan Fink
Kombucha is a fermented health beverage dating back to 220 B.C. in China. Susan Fink employed that history in creating Karma Kombucha in Vernon Hills, Illinois, using certified organic ingredients sourced from Fair Trade producers, without added flavors or juices.
Susan Fink, a food scientist and culinary enthusiast, founded Conscious Mind Products to spread the joy of kombucha. Kombucha is brewed using tea, sugar, and cultures. It is fermented for roughly 24 days to yield beneficial components such as healthy bacteria that promotes gut health, organic acids to aid digestion, and is a good source of antioxidants.
Leveraging her 35 years of experience in various capacities in the food industry, Susan launched Karma Kombucha in 2012.
Wind Ridge Herb Farm
Company: Wind Ridge Herb Farm
Fellows: Tony and Liz Fiorenza
This Caledonia, Illinois farm, founded in 2000, is a thriving grower of more than 400 varieties of culinary and medicinal herbs, and 100 varieties of heirloom vegetable plants. Many uncommon varieties of their fresh herbs are sold in grocery stores throughout Chicagoland. Check out www.windridgeherbfarm.com.
Wind Ridge Herb Farm’s vision is to foster optimum health and wellness through Good Food. It is a family owned and operated business. Founders Liz and Tony Fiorenza strive to deliver health-conscious products that are sugar, salt and allergen free.
The Fiorenzas pride themselves on being part of a healthy food system. “Our products spark creativity in the kitchen while fighting the battle against obesity, diabetes and other diet-related illnesses and allergies.” Their herbs are certified naturally grown and they source additional ingredients for their products from businesses that share the same values and sustainable practices.
Wind Ridge Herb Farm is classified as a State of Illinois Tourist Attraction and has been honored for “Excellence in Agri-Tourism” by the Office of the Comptroller.
Company: Food He.ro
Fellows: Javier Haro
Food He.ro is one Fellow company that made a significant strategic pivot after completing the Accelerator cohort. The company was created by Javier Haro (with then-partner Juan Saldana) developing a non-traditional, blended educational workforce development platform that will provide instructor lead trainings and online courses at the workplace. The educational concept has since been expanding to topics such as Restaurant Management, Certified Food Production Technician Training, Food Safety, Culinary Medicine, Culinary Arts, and Agile Kitchen – Entrepreneurship. Check out www.foodhe.ro.
Javier Haro is a food tech evangelist, social media strategist, Spanish tapas cook, prior restaurateur, food startup consultant, and restaurant workforce trainer. He holds 12 certifications in hospitality management and is a licensed instructor in food safety, culinary, and restaurant management with the National Restaurant Association.
Gotta B Crepes
Company: Gotta B Crepes
Fellows: Ryan Jones
Ryan and his wife Kathia have enjoyed success since the end of the Accelerator cohort, expanding their menu of sweet and savory crepes beyond the farmers markets where they built a following to a brick and mortar restaurant in suburban Evanston. Ryan believes in spinning crepes the way it’s Gotta B: Using local, seasonal, and prepared-from-scratch ingredients. Check out www.gottabcrepes.com.
Ryan and Kathia met in 2005 while both worked at the Magic Pan, a restaurant specializing in crepes. When the restaurant closed in June 2010, they began serving up crepes to neighbors from a pancake griddle in their garage.
Why the name “Gotta B Crepes?” Ryan explains, “I used to have trouble accentuating Kathia’s name, so I just called her ‘Gata.’ She has a talent for adding that extra special touch to food that makes it taste just right, to which I would exclaim, “Gata be the Magic!”
Fellows: Josh Katt
Kitchfix’s mission is to deliver crave-able flavor, exceptional quality, time-saving convenience, and far-reaching benefits for our bodies, community, and Earth. All Kitchfix’s products — including Paleo (grain-free) granola and waffles, and prepared meals for home delivery — are chef-crafted, made from scratch, sourced as locally as possible and approved by an in-house registered dietitian. Check out www.kitchfix.com.
Since 2012, Kitchfix has been cooking for busy parents, CEOs, active people, cancer survivors, Crossfit champions, TV personalities, young professionals, lawyers, professional athletes, and rock star musicians. Founder Josh Katt says, “Our healthy food brand focuses on producing fully prepared meals and snacks, and distributing them through meal delivery, grab-and-go locations, grocery store shelves, and cafeterias.”
Josh has developed a successful multi-faceted business with three distinct components: a meal delivery services that delivers thousands of individual meals throughout Chicagoland; a line of plant-based consumer packaged goods including granola and waffles sold in grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market; and a catering business serving corporate accounts, and those interested in healthy eating—even professional athletes!
Fellows: Adriana Saldaña-Meadath
Adriana Saldana-Meadath created Flùr with the mission to ensure that people suffering from Celiac disease or gluten intolerance can enjoy the same high-quality baked goods as those who are not affected by gluten.
She created the simple motto, Flavor First, and set out to revolutionize the gluten-free market. “Too often,” she said, “‘gluten-free’ signals a tasteless, chalky, dry, gummy, heavy or just plain bad tasting product.” Adriana, a classically trained pastry chef, continued, “It doesn’t have to be this way. I spent two years perfecting Flùr’s proprietary gluten-free flour blends. Amazing taste, texture, and overall superb quality makes my gluten free products virtually indistinguishable from regular baked goods.”
Adriana trained in the classic French tradition of L’Art de la Pâtisserie. She honed her skills at some of Chicago’s premier fine dining restaurants like The Everest Room and The Peninsula Hotel. Shortly thereafter, Adriana was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Rather than quit, she became inspired and began developing recipes and her proprietary blends of gluten free flours. She launched Flùr in 2012 and in 2013, she opened her first gluten-free bakery in Riverside, Illinois, to rave reviews.
Fellows: Rowida Assalimy
Kishr — founded in 2010 by Rowida Assalimy — produces a wellness beverage that originates from Yemen. Made from a part of the coffee plant known as the coffee cherry, Kishr is described by Rowida as “like tea, but better.” Check out kishr.com
Rowida’s parents are from Yemen and she grew up enjoying this beverage. Kishr is made from the coffee cherry, the antioxidant-rich fruit that surrounds the bean, combined with a blend of organic spices. Rowida says the product meets Good Food goals of sustainability, as it uses an often-neglected and wasted portion of the coffee plant, and because it is a health-conscious product (she describes Kishr as “a low caffeine beverage with more antioxidants than green tea.”)
While the coffee cherries are not obtainable locally — they are grown and imported from Yemen (fair-trade) — she assures that they are “naturally organic and rain-fed,” with no fertilizers or pesticides used.
Mint Creek Farm
Company: Mint Creek Farm
Fellows: Harry and Raya Carr
Harry and his wife Gwen founded Mint Creek Farm in 1992, qualifying them as pioneers in the now fast-growing market for grass-fed, pasture-raised livestock. Their ranch, located about 25 miles southwest of Kankakee near the southern edge of metropolitan Chicago. Check out mintcreekfarm.com
As Harry describes it, “Mint Creek Farm raises premium, grass-fed meats for the Chicago area. We are a family farm, grazing our livestock on Certified Organic central Illinois pasture. We produce grass-fed lamb, grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and pasture-raised goat. In addition to our pastured livestock, we raise pastured poultry, including duck, chicken, and turkey.”
Mint Creek products can be purchased at many Chicago farmers markets, and they have a meat CSA. They supply meats to some of Chicago’s top restaurants.
Fellows: Shane Christensen
dailyServing launched in April 2014 to produce a variety of healthy products, based on dried fruits and vegetables, cold-pressed juices, nuts, and other functional foods, to address the busy lives of many consumers.
Each product in its line was designed to address a particular type of customer or activity. Examples include Defend-Immunity (immunity booster), Calm-Mind (foods that soothe), Fuel Work-Out (pre-workout foods), Recover Strength (post-workout foods), and Play Smart (an afternoon snack for kids).
Shane utilized his past experience in entrepreneurial ventures, including clothing, entertainment, and children’s products, in building the dailyServing company.
Spark of the Heart
Company: Spark of the Heart
Fellows: Thomas Frierson and Cynthia Zeki
Spark of the Heart was created in 2010 to produce delicious dried bean-based soup mixes, bean salads, and beans and rice side dishes.
Husband and wife Thomas Frierson and Cynthia Zeki, Ph.D., founded Spark of the Heart. Thomas said Cynthia, an educator and health services professional, created the recipes used for Spark of the Heart’s products to feed her family and friends.
Jakobs Brothers Farms
Company: Jakobs Brothers Farms
Fellows: Nik Jakobs
Located in rural northwest Illinois, almost due west of Chicago and northeast of the Quad Cities, Jakobs Brothers Farms is a livestock and grain farming operation was started in 1949 by Nik Jacobs’ grandfather Norbert, who had emigrated from Europe to escape the Holocaust. Check out jakobsbrosfarms.com
Nik is a third-generation cattle feeder at his family’s ranch.
Fellows: Riana Lynn
Farmers, wholesalers, and buyers need to readily connect with each other to make the deal that will grow the local and sustainable food market in the Chicago region. Riana Lynn built FoodTrace to develop software and mapping applications for better food sourcing management data.
Riana Lynn is a serial entrepreneur who has engaged in a number of food-related ventures.
Living Water Farms
Company: Living Water Farms
Fellows: Mark Schneider
Living Water Farms grows specialty salad greens, microgreens, herbs and edible flowers year-round in a greenhouse located a couple of hours southwest of Chicago, not far from Bloomington and Champaign. Check out livingwaterfarms.com
Mark Schneider is a former firefighter who turned full-time grower after he helped his in-laws, Kevin and Denise Kilgus, convert their truck farming operation into Living Water Farms in 2008. He= notes that Living Water Farms’ greenhouse growing contributes to building a year-round market for locally and regionally produced goods.
Company: Jenny’s Tofu
Fellows: Jenny Yang
The delicious fresh tofu and prepared tofu products produced from sustainably grown Illinois soybeans have built a growing market for Jenny Yang’s Phoenix Bean and Jenny’s Tofu brands. This growth has enabled Jenny to undertake a major expansion of her operations on Chicago’s far North Side.
Good Food principles of sustainability and localism are key ingredients in Jenny’s success. All of the soybeans used in its products are non-GMO — no mean trick, given that the vast majority of soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified. “We believe that healthy soybean products are an important part of a sustainable modern diet. We are following a complete soybean life cycle that supports and encourages local, sustainable food,” Jenny says.
Jenny, a native of Taiwan, left a career in corporate finance when an opportunity to buy into the existing Phoenix Bean tofu-making company arose in 2006. She and her team steadily built Phoenix Bean into a significant presence on the Chicago food scene, selling its fresh and prepared tofu products and soy milk to leading restaurants, as well as to general consumers through wholesale, retail and farmers markets.