Once Upon a Time I Won the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge

contestI have always been a little ballsy. Like the time I rapped in front of my entire middle school (a Brita original, I might add), or danced a solo dance in college with only one class under belt, or perhaps the time I cashed in my 401k, quit my job and started my own company?

Cojones.

So, it should probably come as no surprise that when I saw an ad looking for the next hot food product, I didn’t hesitate to enter. I had an amateur food blog, but no formal culinary training and no real product., but I had an idea and a vision.  Friend, sometimes that is all it takes!
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My idea was for a sauce that could be used to make multiple dinners, to simplify cooking for busy families. I also wanted it to be all natural and help moms be healthier without much effort.  I called my “product”, Skinny Dinner Starter: Superfood Italian. (Superfood because it was made with organic kale. And to all you kale haters out there- even you would love it!)
special green pasta

I sent in the entry- my recipe and a little blurb about my product idea. And waited, but not anxiously. Honestly I wasn’t sure I had a chance. But one summer day, I got a call back! I was going to a formal competition  where I would cook using my sauce, provide tastings to all the guests of the event, and then formally present my product with a quick speech to the judges.

I am pretty sure I exclaimed, “Holy s***!” Because that’s the kind of girl I am. But I am also a girl who gets things done, so I got on my computer and reached out to all my contacts. I needed a logo and a label pronto. I had to whip up the sauce and make it look like it was grocery store worthy.

I called on two of my amazing employees and asked them to wear completely different hats and be my sous chefs that day. I flew home from our family vacation with my husband and boys, who sent me off with big hugs and well wishes.

meMy co-workers and I got into the industrial kitchen and made shrimp and paninis with the Superfood Italian sauce and displayed it on clean white dishes. contest111

I have to say the dishes looked pretty professional (It’s all about presentation, isn’t it?)
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Thank goodness the food actually tasted good too, because one of the judges was Justin Aprahamian, a James Beard winner and chef at Milwaukee’s only 5 star restaurant. Cojones.

contest4The little mason jars turned out adorable and looked pretty darn official too.

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Who knows what I said in my presentation, but after deliberating the judges chose little ole me as the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur. Speech! Speech!

hottest kitchen

That’s when the whirlwind officially started… Media interviews,  store samplings, selling my product to local grocers. I even snagged several spots cooking on the Fox 6 morning show, Real Milwaukee.  (Here’s a clip if you want to see me on t.v.!) Running a business in the education world,  I was completely out of my wheel house. This was simply exhilarating! I met the most amazing people. I am telling you–If you want to start a food business, Milwaukee is the place. People are eager to help you succeed and no one keeps their secrets close to their chests. I even had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with Giacomo Fallucca the CEO of Palermos pizza for advice.

Cojones.

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At the end of the year my product (which I later changed to call Busy Bree’s) was being made by a manufacturer (!) and was was on seven different grocery store shelves with the second sauce I created, Healthful Mexican. It was an amazing year and frankly unbelievable given the short time frame.

me at good harvest 2

Ultimately, I couldn’t keep juggling two businesses while also parenting two small children, so I had to sell the food business. But wow! What an experience. Winning this contest showed me what I am hoping to show all of you. All it takes is action-moving and taking chances. You have to take a chance to change your life. Look how my life changed in 12 short months.
on the shelves!

“You can’t fail if you never start.”

What are you dreaming of to get you closer to your inner sunshine? Don’t let that dream get away! Take one step -even if it is a tiny baby step-towards your dreams. TODAY.

You deserve it. Now find the cojones…

Whoever you are, wherever you are, start living your dream life today,

xo,

Bree

 

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