Wisconsin Food Contributors

Episode Description | State Plate Seasons

Saxon Creamery

Saxon Creamery  |  Lisa Hall & Eric Steltenpohl

Cheese Curds | Website

Lisa Hall began her career in cheese in 2007 at Saxon Creamery, the year that Saxon Creamery began. It was here that Lisa took on the challenges of starting the office area from the very bottom.

“I had a mountain for a learning curve, but I was up for the challenge!  We were just getting started, we were small and we all wore lots of hats to get the job done,” she says.

To say she’s dedicated to the company is an understatement. For a while, she needed to take a full-time day job at a hospital, but continued to work nights at Saxon in the aging room, cleaning the cheeses.

Today, she’s been promoted to Business Manager, but you won’t see her title on her business card.

“I don’t want to be defined by a title on a card,” she says, “I will do whatever the job requires, we work as a team here at Saxon Cheese LLC, and no job is too small or too big when we all work together.”   

Eric Steltenpohl has a long, impressive career in cheese making—from working in Production and Sanitation, running 40-pound blocks of cheddar and Monterey Jack, and loaves of mozzarella and provolone for Sargento Foods to cheesemaker and foreman at Land O’ Lakes where he studied under Dale Schmidt and later received his Cheesemaker and Pasteurize license at the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. As rewarding as these positions were, he wanted “something more.”

He found it at Saxon Cheese LLC in 2014 when he took the job of Plant Manager and Head Cheesemaker.

It was here, that Eric would learn to handcraft European Style Artisan Cheeses.  Eric is responsible for the day to day operations, production of the current makes, and working on developing new products. In 2015, Eric became a SQF Practioner and in 2016 a PCQI preventive control qualified individual after completing a FDA-approved course FSPCA. Eric has dedicated himself to improving and maintaining a safe quality cheese at Saxon Cheese LLC. He has plans to obtain his Master Cheesemaker license in the future.

Cheesy Fact: Wisconsin has the most dairy farms in the country, a total of 11,400. That makes for a lot of cheese!


Schwai's Meat & Sausage

Schwai’s Meat & Sausage Market  |  Tom Schwai

Bratwurst | Website

Schwai’s meat market has been in business for more than 80 years. Today with third generation, Tom Schwai at the meat grinder, the brats are made the old-fashioned way, based on his father’s family recipe, with AAA choice, lean cuts of meat, hickory-smoked with no MSG or gluten, just spices and seasonings, wrapped in an all-natural casing. And once one of his 1/3-pound brats hits a sizzling grill, it cooks up to tender, flavorful perfection with no shrinkage.

With two markets now open, Tom is busier than ever, but you’ll still see him grilling and selling brats at farmers markets, street fairs, festivals and events—from the Strawberry Festival to Augtoberfest, church feasts to school fundraisers.

The recipes for their summer sausage hot sticks, brats, and other favorites have been passed down from generation to generation. Tom says, “The original pork brat is our claim to fame and it was our pleasure to share with Taylor.”

Fire up the Grill: What’s Wisconsin’s answer to the southern barbecue? The brat fry!


GLK Foods

GLK Foods  |  Ryan Downs & Ron Worm

Sauerkraut | Website

Often when we think of a family business, we picture a sweet mom & pop shop with a son or daughter at the register and grandma behind the counter serving up food and advice with equal enthusiasm. But what happens when that small business grows, and grows, merges with others, and grows some more? Can they maintain the integrity of their original values? In the case of GLK Foods, LLC, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

They’ve been making sauerkraut since 1900, and today they are the largest sauerkraut producer in the world, carrying on their 100-year family tradition of making the finest-quality, freshest and most savory sauerkraut. They are in America’s top-selling brands.

Every year GLK Foods processes 140,000 tons of raw cabbage sourced from local family farms. With their state-of-the-art farming and processing methods they are able to ensure the quality, freshness and crispness of every ounce of sauerkraut that leaves their facility.

From traditional flavors to new, innovative products, the company offers traditional and Bavarian style tart and tangy Silver Floss; crispy, crunchy refrigerated Krrrrisp Kraut; Cortland Valley Organic; raw, probiotic-rich natural Saverne; and Latino-influenced hot and spicy Curtido, and much more

Listen to Your Gut! Fermented foods are trendy for a reason! They’re healthy! The probiotics used as a natural preservative when fermenting sauerkraut, help aid digestion by restoring a healthy balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract. Plus, sauerkraut is rich in vitamins C, B, especially B12, and the “forgotten” vitamin—K!


Hannon's Booyah

Hannon’s Booyah  |  Monette Bebow

Chicken Booyah | Website

Cooked over the course of two days, blending the savory flavors of shredded chicken, a variety of veggies and legumes you buy, or pick from the garden—carrots, peas, beans, onions—stirred in an enormous pot, often employing special “Booyah kettles,” some capable of holding 50 gallons of broth, chicken booyah is a longstanding staple at community events, church, school and non-profit fundraisers and other celebrations.

While the origin of the mouthwatering soup can stir up a heated debate, Monette Bebow-Reinhard is certain its roots are firmly planted in her family tree, crediting her grandfather, the son of a Belgian immigrant, Alex Hannon as the inventor of the century-old dish when he was a mere 12 years old in 1893.

And where did the name “booyah” come from? Some say it’s the Belgian phonetic spelling, translation or variation of the word “bouillon,” or broth, derived from the French. Others tell the story of Andrew Rentmeester, a lumberjack turned school teacher, who, when placing an ad at the newspaper for a school fundraiser, misspelled the word “bouillon,” when the clerk asked what would be served.

There’s one thing all parties can agree on: Booyah is a delicious way to bring family, friends and community together.

What Not to Put in: According to Monette, there are certain ingredients that should never go into an authentic Booyah—rice, noodles and tomatoes! In a November, 2015 Green Bay Press-Gazette article, she said, “Tomatoes? If they put tomatoes in it, I won’t try it. Rice or noodles? Yuck!”


O&H Danish Bakery

O&H Danish Bakery  |  Matt Horton

Kringle | Website

Christian Olesen immigrated to Racine, Wisconsin from Denmark as a young boy in the early 1900s. In 1949, he teamed up with Harvey Holtz and O&H Bakery began creating light, flaky and flavorful Kringle.

In 1963, Christian’s son Ray and wife Myrna bought out the Holtz share and they began to teach their sons Dale, Mike and Eric the business. Today, Eric and his wife Lisa run the business, bringing in the fourth generation of family bakers, including Peter their son and Matt Horton, their son-in-law.

In 2015, O&H moved to a new 44,000 square-foot headquarters and bakery. They may have upgraded their facility, but the family still produces the tasty pastry made from quality ingredients, adhering to family tradition, values and integrity.

And the Winner Is…The Kringle! The Official State Pastry of Wisconsin.


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