Food Entrepreneurship

Episode 144: Sheryl and Vincenzo with Love in a Tuscan Kitchen


This week on the podcast we get to chat with local innovators Sheryl Ness and Vincenzo Giangiordano. Sheryl, a native of the Kasson area, grew up a local farm girl and amassed over thirty years of experience as a nurse at Mayo Clinic. Vincenzo, a native of a town called Abruzzo in rural Italy, is a trained chef and worked all over Italy learning traditional Italian cooking before settling in Tuscany. Vincenzo lived in this region of Italy for fifteen years running a restaurant with two other business partners.  Today he makes the fresh pasta at Terza and runs his own business, called VinChef Cooking, providing cooking classes, private dinners, and other chef services. Today on the podcast we talk about the major risks this husband and wife team have taken in their careers to live out their dreams. We also chat about Sheryl’s book Love in a Tuscan Kitchen describing her travels and life in Italy as she made some major decisions in her career and met and fell in love with Vincenzo over his chocolate cake!


On the podcast today we talk about:

·      The universality of food.

·      How Sheryl took a chance on love and moved from Rochester to Tuscany, where she lived for six years.

·      The difficulties and hard work Vincenzo and his business partners put into their restaurant in the Chianti region of Tuscany to keep it running and pay their taxes.

·      Vincenzo and Sheryl’s move back to Minnesota to be closer to Sheryl’s family and Vincenzo decision to leave his restaurant.

·      Sheryl’s book Love in a Tuscan Kitchen describing her relationship with Vincenzo and the people, food, and traditions of the medieval Tuscan village, called San Gusme, where they met and lived in for several years.

·      The intentional risk taking and unexpected choice making by both Sheryl and Vincenzo to create a better life for themselves.

·      The value of following your heart.

·      The process of getting a book published and how Sheryl and Vincenzo are currently promoting her book.

·      The Rochester restaurant and pop-up food scene.


Links from the podcast today:

Love in a Tuscan Kitchen


Facebook: @loveinatuscankitchen

VinChef Cooking:

Facebook: @vinchefcooking

Music Attribution: Odd News by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist:

Today’s podcast is brought to you by:



Facebook: @liveatomnow

Twitter: @LiveAtomNow

Episode 142: Shari Mukherjee with Spiced up Mom and MasterChef

Photo courtesy of Shari Mukherjee/MasterChef.

Photo courtesy of Shari Mukherjee/MasterChef.

This week on the podcast we chat with local food innovator Shari Mukherjee. Shari runs the food blog Spiced up Mom and is currently in the top seven of Season Ten in FOX’s MasterChef. On the show today we talk about: 

  • How marrying her husband ten years ago sparked Shari’s passion to learn traditional Indian cooking.

  • Her experience with food blogging and journey to learn cooking.

  • Some of Shari’s worst cooking disasters.

  • The value of learning from mistakes.

  • The use of Shari’s food blogs My Fancy Pantry and Spiced Up Mom to share her cooking experience and lessons learned.

  • Her decision to try out for Season Ten of MasterChef and journey to the top seven.

  • The friendships she’s created on MasterChef.

  • How the MasterChef experience has taught Shari that she can do difficult things and how she’s dealing with negative feedback from the show.

  • Shari’s future plans, including potential pop-up shops at Figue.


Links from the podcast today:

Spiced up Mom


Twitter: @SpicedUpMom

Facebook: @spicedupmom

Instagram: @spicedupmom

Music Attribution: Odd News by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist:


Episode 140: Linda and Amy Lorber of Figue


This week on the podcast we welcome the mother and daughter team of Linda and Amy Lorber! This pair owns and runs Gardenaire, a business that uses organic products to produce and sell teas, spices, syrups, shrubs, drinking chocolates, and marshmallows. The Lorbers are now expanding into a retail space to celebrate food with their latest endeavor, Figue.  


On the podcast today we chat about:

  • Amy’s first foray into entrepreneurship with a jam company.

  • Childhood memories of food.

  • Organic growth of Gardenaire and the challenge of finding commercial kitchen space in Rochester.

  • The goal of Figue to allow people to celebrate food through local food products and cooking classes.

  • The wealth of food knowledge housed in Rochester.

  • The canine business mascot Mr. Rusty Buckets.

  • Local resources and tools useful for growing a business in Rochester, including the SBDC and peer groups through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and the Rochester Farmer’s Market.


Links from the podcast today:



Facebook: @thegardenaire

Twitter: @thegardenaire

Instagram: @thegardenaire


Music Attribution: Odd News by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist:


Today’s podcast is brought to you by:

Alsbrook Accounting



Twitter: @AlsbrookAccntg

Episode 135: Jim and Crystal Whitmarsh of Trail Creek Coffee Roasters

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This week on the podcast we sit down with husband and wife team of Crystal and Jim Whitmarsh, owners of Trail Creek Coffee Roasters. Trail Creek Coffee Roasters is a small business that started out of a garage and has recently transitioned into a shared commercial space in downtown Kasson. The business aims to provide small batch specialty coffee roasts and has a passion for connection, community, and global impact.


On the podcast today, we chat about:

·       The value Jim and Crystal found in working with the local organization Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA).

·       How the pair took advantage of Minnesota’s Cottage Food Exemption act to sell their product for several years and build up a customer base before pursuing a commercial space.

·       How the pair was set up on a blind date over 15 years ago during college and spent much of their early relationship in a coffee shop, which fueled their dreams to one day own their own coffee business.

·       How Jim taught himself to roast coffee with online videos and a vintage popcorn machine.

·       The transition to being “all in” in the business.

·       The need to budget more time and money than expected when building out commercial space.

·       The value of growing a business in a sustainable manner.

·       How they’re dealing with fear of failure.


Links from the podcast today:

Trail Creek Coffee Roasters


Facebook: @trailcreekcoffee

Instagram: @trailcreekcoffeeroasters


Investors and Innovators Forum



Odd News by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist:

Episode 101: Abbey Sass with Civil Sass Hops


This week on the podcast we check in with Abbey Sass of Civil Sass Hops. Civil Sass Hops is a hops yard on a third-generation family farm in Chatfield, MN, owned by Abbey and her husband Jake Sass. Civil Sass Hops is a woman and veteran owned business. On the show today, we sit down with Abbey and talk about:


·      Her introduction to southeast Minnesota as a Kansas native and the rural tourism she sees taking place now outside of Rochester.

·      How the dichotomy of the name Civil Sass Hops reflects the culture of the business.

·      The history of hops growth in Minnesota.

·      The value of fresh hops in local beers.

·      How hops factor into the beer brewing process.

·      Abbey’s career as an interior designer, designing hotels nationwide.

·      Her husband Jake’s entrepreneurial passion from a young age and how they collaborate as a husband/wife team to run Civil Sass Hops.

·      The importance of open and honest communication in running a business.

·      The next steps for Civil Sass Hops, including an expansion of acreage and increased collaboration efforts, both with new breweries and with markets that might be just a bit unexpected for hops.

Episode 72: Talking EatRochMN with Cheyenne and Katie


This week on the podcast we talk with the ladies behind EatRochMN: Cheyenne Labott and Katie Zupancic Wymer. EatRochMN is a food blog and popular Instagram account started about one year ago where the girls tour through the Rochester food scene, creating meaningful connections and making Rochester feel a little bit more like home. The EatRochMN Instagram account recently hit 1000 followers as Cheyenne and Katie continue their food adventures around the city. This week on the podcast we talk about what drew these transplants to Rochester in the first place, the growth of EatRochMN over the past year, and what they’re looking forward to in Rochester’s food scene this year.

“We just want to keep eating. So, the more that we can get out there, the better!” -Katie Zupancic Wymer

Episode 66: Garret Sorensen and Mandala Tea


This week on the podcast we talk with Garret Sorensen of Mandala Tea. This business imports and sells Chinese and Taiwanese teas and tea accessories and is based in Rochester, Minnesota. On the show today we talk about the meditative and health benefits of tea, the different types of tea, and how to hold a proper tea service. Garret also shared how the business has grown and developed over the last 13 years of operation, especially through an increased online and social media presence, and how the Mandala Tea was recently revitalized after he almost walked away from it all.

“I think that one of the things is, as far as business success for myself, is not being afraid to ask for help.” – Garret Sorensen

Episode 65: Derrick Chapman and Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza


Welcome to our first podcast of 2018! This week, we sit down with Derrick Chapman, owner of Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza. This audio is from our very latest video #Emerge series, where we have a low-key discussion with an entrepreneur in the Rochester community. This week on the podcast, we talk about the growth of the mobile food unit industry in Rochester, how Derrick’s been navigating his first year “all in” with his food truck business, and what he does at the end of the calendar year to prep for the next twelve months.

“The one thing you have to do is sacrifice when you want something to succeed. If you’re not willing to make those sacrifices, then you’re not going to get any bigger or anywhere beyond where you’re already at.” –Derrick Chapman, Owner of Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza

To find the most updated locations for the food truck, link up with their Facebook page or download the Twisted Barrel app.

Episode 27: Tinua and Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza

This week, we listen in on some audio from the very first 1 Million Cups Rochester. We had two Rochester entrepreneurs speak at this event: Tori Utley of Tinua and Derrick Chapman of Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza.

  • Tinua is developing a digital platform and mobile application to transform unused funds on gift cards into tools they believe can save lives.
  • Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza is Rochester’s hottest food truck, cooking pizzas between 900-1000 degrees.

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