Chicago’s Venture Summit brings together entrepreneurs and industry executives to drive innovation.
Why take the time of assembling the seven ingredients of a classic Chicago hot dog when you can just use The Original Chicago Sauce? The condiment was formulated by Lance Avery, owner of Big Fork Brands, Chicago, the maker of craft bacon sausage, pork jerky, meat sticks and flexitarian sausage. He combines yellow mustard, chopped white onions, green sweet pickle relish, dill pickle, tomato, pickled sport peppers and celery salt into a single shelf-stable 8-oz jar. The original debuted in 2020. Since, he has added a fiery variety and another intended to be a dipper for French fries. The latter contains mayonnaise and ketchup, two forbidden condiments on a classic Chicago dog. Sold locally and through mail order, Mr. Avery plans to grow distribution in order to satisfy the cravings of Windy City transplants across the country.
Jon Mulholland started Pasta Pappone in 2011 in Downers Grove, Ill., selling flavored pasta at a local farmers’ market. As its popularity and demand grew, it could no longer be just a side job and his wife, Mary Beth, got involved. In 2019, she left her job to run Pasta Pappone full time and grow the business. The company now offers wheat and gluten-free fettuccini and linguini in more than a dozen flavors, including artichoke rosemary, green chile, habanero, lemon pepper, sweet potato and Thai citrus ginger.
Most beans consumed in the United States are grown and some are packaged outside the country. They are considered a boring commodity with no story to tell, said Maggie Seng Sadowsky, president and founder, 8 Track Foods, Batavia, Ill. With a background in food science, Ms. Seng Sadowsky set out to reinvent the can of beans and launched 8 Track Foods in February 2020. She works with local farmers with sustainable agriculture practices to grow four varieties, including black, cannellini, chickpeas and kidney.
“Every decision that goes into our beans, makes them stand apart,” she said. “From the way they are grown, and how we process them from the start, to the way we distribute them, to the innovative way our package recycles.”
Jordan Fainberg, founder, Pinsa Love, Washington, is an entrepreneur who brought Pinsa to the US frozen pizza category. Pinsa is a style of pizza from Rome that has a thick crust full of crispy bubbles. It takes three days to make the dough using a fermentation process Mr. Fainberg learned in Tuscany, Italy. Each Pinsa is about 7.5 x 11 inches and is intended to serve two. Varieties include traditional toppings, such as sausage, pepperoni and mushroom. Some of the more unique offerings include artichoke roasted red pepper, pesto wild mushroom and whipped ricotta veggie.
“Pinsa is always baked twice, making it perfect for homes,” he said. “After a year of work, I perfected the recipes and techniques. The frozen Pinsa is ready for its second and final baking in home and is ready in just 18 minutes.”
Chilee is a startup that produces chili oil in micro batches. The name is a nod to the founder’s Grandfather Lee, who immigrated from South Korea to Chicago, but missed his favorite condiment: traditional Chinese chili oil. This Americanized version starts with a base of avocado oil and uses a blend of spices intended to have appeal beyond the Chinese palate. Unlike other chili oils in the market, the product contains no added sugars. The sweetness comes from caramelized shallots.
Website preorders are being taken by Globowl, a baby and toddler food brand focused on early allergen introduction through internationally inspired cuisine. The brainchild of Erica Bethe Levin, who set out to mitigate both food allergies and picky eating while bringing the world to her own children’s plates, the introductory rollout features four varieties in 4-oz shelf-stable glass jars. Yaya’s Medi-Bowl, for example, is spinach, chickpeas, eggplant, roasted red pepper, tahini and farro, stewed together in a savory bone broth sauce with olive oil and topped with baby-size bits of feta. Baby Spice’s Bean Bowl was inspired by the flavors of South and Central America, with a sprinkling of Europe. It includes carrots, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, beans, yellow peppers, quinoa and bone broth with Globowl’s spice blend. There’s also Veggie Tikka Masala and Pad Thai for Tots.
The 2023 show saw indulgent treats expand in snacking occasions.
Sauces, dressings and seasonings land on shelves.