Sometimes it takes years to get a recipe just right. This year’s finalists showed a determination and creative culinary concepts that impressed the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge judges. This challenge to find Wisconsin’s next great start-up and early stage food entrepreneurs 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.

Early-stage finalists include: Austin Ashley, Hallie Ashley and Zac Mathes, Viroqua — Wisco Pop! — Craft brewed soda featuring fresh fruit juice, pure Wisco honey and genuine herbs and spices for a real Wisconsin brew. Offered in three distinct flavors Ginger Brew, Door County Cherry Bomb and Root Beer. Currently available in 40 locations throughout Viroqua, Madison and Milwaukee. Challenges include meeting single-serve demand and increasing production capacity.

Start-up and early stage finalists will compete for the grand prize in a Food Network-style judging event at MATC’s student-operated 6th Street Café located at 1015 N. 6th St. on the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, Thursday, July 17, at noon.

The grand prize winner in each category will receive $2,000 in seed money from Reliable 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.

For more information, visit Reliable Water Services at www.hotwater247.com.

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Vernon County Broadcaster editor

Angie Cina is editor of the Vernon County Broadcaster. Contact her at 608-637-5616.

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