On a calm sunny afternoon, I walk through the open door of MKE Kitchen in Riverwest to meet Danielle Dahl and Collin Wallace, owners of Chillwaukee. I find them chopping rhubarb and juicing buckets of fresh vibrant lemons in the welcoming commercial kitchen that they rent from Kathy Papineau. This was definitely not what I was expecting when meeting a couple that makes local popsicles. But what do I know about making popsicles? I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Dahl and Wallace hand-make all of their pops from scratch using fresh ingredients and once the growing season starts, they plan to work with local farmers and use all local produce. Some of their flavors include Strawberry Rhubarb, Lavender Lemonade, Chocolate Covered Coconut, Arnold Palmer and my personal favorite Bananas Foster. Trust me, they taste even better than they sound.
Chillwaukee is all leg power. Once Dahl and Wallace prepare all their popsicles, they load them into their bicycle/freezer and ride their business to the next event. “That’s what we’re committed to, we can’t flake out. We gotta prove to people that biking is a viable means to getting where you need to go, even if you run a business," declares Danielle. They mentioned that one of the hardest parts of running their business is when you reach a large hill and have to get the fully-loaded bicycle up that hill. Sometimes it takes two people to push it over. But the benefits far outweigh the struggles.
Danielle and Collin officially launched their business in May of this year. The idea dawned on them when they were walking through a festival last fall looking at the vendors and thought, "we can do that." The two of them were tired of working inside so they quit their jobs in hopes of spending the summer outside, “hanging out with people and connecting,” says Collin. Previously a Milwaukee chef, Collin brings a professional food perspective to the business and fixes the bikes, while Danielle's history in photography and graphic design allows her to do outreach and run the website and social media. Together they create the recipes. Can you say power couple?
Although it's been a steep learning curve, these two have a solid business plan and are already taking on Milwaukee. They are passionate about the local food movement and dedicated to their sustainable practices. “Keep it really really simple. Keep it local as much as possible. Be good role models for composting. Bike as much as possible. If you want to be in the food scenes, you don’t need to buy a $40,000 food truck and have a generator running all day long…You can keep it small and simple,” explains Collin. If you want to see where they will be this summer or want to get in touch with them about catering, take a look at their website: www.chillwaukee.com