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Thursday, April 5, 2012

MATC's Open Call for Aspiring Kitchen Entrepreneurs

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Many home cooks have a special recipe that they insist beats anything available commercially—maybe for a secret sauce, a perfect cookie or an unusual cocktail—but few of them attempt to mass-produce and market their signature concoctions. The Milwaukee Area Technical College is hosting a competition for those who want to take that step.

“Reliable Water Services, a commercial water service company that works with many Wisconsin restaurants, partnered with us to offer the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, a contest that's open to the general public,” explains Armen Hadjinian, director of MATC's just-launched Entrepreneurship Center. “It's for anybody interested in food or cooking who has a recipe and thinks, 'Wow, I really enjoy this, and my family and friends enjoy it; I could put this on the market and sell it.'”

Interested participants have until May 18 to enter the challenge through Reliable's website, hotwater247.com, by submitting a photo of their product and a short essay about it, 500 words or less. A panel of judges including experts from Beans & Barley, Sanford and Brookfield's ParkSide 23 restaurant will review the entries and decide the finalists. Winners will be announced at a demonstration exhibition in July. The winner gets $2,500 in startup cash, $500 in equipment and knives, and business consultation advice from the Entrepreneurship Center.

Hadjinian says that he plans to make the Entrepreneurship Center's consultation services available to the general public, as well.

“We're not planning on charging a fee for our services because MATC is community-based, so part of our mission is to help the community,” Hadjinian says. “We're hoping to support aspiring entrepreneurs by letting them come in and review some of our outlines and some of the business models that we use. We'll help them with positioning their product, aid in the refinement of the product and help them find a market for it. Our hope is that we can get people thinking in the right direction, and help answer at least some of the questions that they might have.”