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Chicago Food Entrepreneur Series: Meet Katrina Markoff of Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Imagine being able to travel the world while indulging in delicious, hand-crafted chocolate. If it’s hard for you to imagine, fear no more! Our next Chicago Food Entrepreneur, Katrina Markoff, has made that dream possible through her world-renowned chocolate operation, Vosges Haut Chocolat.

Katrina’s business was inspired by her travels around the world. Soon after graduating from college, she journeyed to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu. From there, Katrina visited countries from Spain to Southeast Asia. Located in Logan Square, Vosges provided people in Chicago a way to experience the world through chocolate. Today Vosges brings joy to people all over the world through its retail locations in New York City and Las Vegas.

We had the pleasure of gaining a little more insight into the world of Vosges while speaking with Katrina. She described her chocolate as “experiential” and told us that her favorite food was chocolate!

We also wanted to know more about what Katrina thought of Carol’s Cookies. Katrina had her first Carol’s Cookie at Neiman Marcus, which is probably why she associates our cookies with Christmas shopping in Chicago.  She also thinks that what sets Carol’s Cookies apart is the fact that “Carol is an incredibly sweet person!” We asked if she was given the chance to create her own sweet, perfect cookie, what flavor it would be. Katrina confessed that Carol’s already had the perfect cookie: our sugar cookie. 

Thanks to Katrina for chatting with us! We are proud to associate with a fellow Chicago food entrepreneur who is passionate about using food to change the world.

Chicago Food Entrepreneur Series: Meet Jon Sider of Greater Than

In Chicago, we are known for our sports (Congrats Blackhawks!) and our food.  And luckily, our next Chicago Food Entrepreneur has had an effect on both. We’re happy to introduce you to Jon Sider, the co-founder of Greater Than sports drinks!

Image via Medill Northwestern


Jon and his brother, Mark Sider, felt the need to create the optimal drink for those who live an active lifestyle.  The great thing about Greater Than (no pun intended) is that it’s unlike any other sports drink you’ve heard of: no artificial color or dye, no high fructose corn syrup, and all natural ingredients. Head quartered in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, Greater Than now offers their delicious coconut water in five flavors and continues to fuel athletes in Chicago and around the country.


Image via: Lacrosse America

How would you describe your business?

Coconut Water that tastes great.  We've taken the natural goodness of Coconut Water and enhanced it for premium hydration and taste.

What inspired you to start Greater Than?

We are young, hungry and determined to be great.  It just so happens that our sport in business turned out to be hydration.  Living an active lifestyle ourselves, we believed there was a need for a more natural source of hydration.  After learning about Coconut Water, we thought that was the perfect place to start.

Image via: Kumbuya


What’s your favorite food?

My favorite indulgence is Carol's Cookies.  Plus there is nothing like a Carol's Cookies to earn a few points with the lady.


When did you have your first Carol’s Cookie?

I had my first Carol's Cookies at Sunset Valley Golf Club.  It was much greater than a first kiss.


What do you associate Carol’s Cookies with?

I associate Carol's Cookies with delicious happiness.  They're always delicious and they always make you happy.  Yum!


Name your favorite thing about Carol’s Cookies.

Carol’s is rooted in our hometown of Highland Park.  It's an entrepreneurial story that can inspire others.


If you had to create a new Carol’s Cookie, what flavor would it be?

How about some Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, topped off with Cinnamon & Sugar!  That would be a Greater Than Moment!

Thanks again to Jon for chatting with us about Greater Than (and his love of Carol’s Cookies)! All natural ingredients made us successful and we have no doubt that the same will be true for Greater Than!

Chicago Food Entrepreneur Series: Meet Dan Klein of Tiesta Tea

Chicago foodie entrepreneurs are one-of-a-kind. They exhibit drive and creativity in ways that continue to astound us! As part of our series, we spoke with Co-Founder and CEO, Dan Klein, about the methodology that makes Tiesta Tea not only unique and intriguing, but also practical.
Klein and his team have come full circle (literally) in providing loose leaf tea in innovative combinations. They brought experiences they had abroad back to the U.S. to develop a brand headquartered in River North that now provides teas globally. Their teas are marketed by the way they taste, which contain real fruit and herbs, how they should be prepared, and the benefit to the consumer enjoying the finished product.
Describe your business: We make exotic blends of loose-leaf tea categorized by function. We customize recipes that use full fruits and herbs to enhance the all-natural flavor.
How did you get into the food business? In other words, what was your inspiration? Our inspiration came from a study abroad trip my business partner Patrick and I took to Prague. We were blown away by the unique flavors and plethora of teahouses and wondered why we weren’t seeing it back home.
What’s your favorite food? Scallops, no question - Nothing like fresh seafood.
When did you have your first Carol’s Cookie? I had my first Carol’s Cookie after graduating college, when I was 22.
What do you associate Carol’s Cookies with? If I had to use one word, it would be handcrafted.
What is your favorite thing about Carol or her cookies? I love the story and the fact that they are truly handmade and all-natural. There’re very few cookies at the grocery stores these days that can claim this.
If you were to create the perfect flavor for a Carol's Cookie, what would it be? Chocolate Peanut Butter with a vanilla swirl!
A special thanks to Dan for taking the time to give us feedback on Carol’s Cookies and speak about Tiesta Tea.  Hey, Dan, which Tiesta Tea beverage would be a great combination with one of Carol’s Cookies???  Hmmm, new flavor in the making?

Chicago Food Entrepreneur Series: Meet Pam Netzky of SkinnyPop Popcorn

Our Chicago foodie blog series continues! In our last post you met Corey Kaplan of NYC Bagel Deli – a man who has wooed Chicago with his east coast-inspired bagels & cream cheese. Today’s post shares how one woman put a twist on the Midwest’s favorite snack: meet SkinnyPop Popcorn!

With the tagline, “No artificial anything,” consumers can indulge in a guilt-free snack without sacrificing flavor or enjoyment. We asked Pam Netzky, President and Co-Founder of SkinnyPop Popcorn,a few questions to get an insider's look into her booming business.

Pam was recruited by Andrew Friedman to help launch Wells Street Popcorn in 2007. Andrew and his investors were originally inspired by the success of Garrett Popcorn. Shortly after, they discovered their original business plan – a retail store model – would need to change. Pam and Andrew began experimenting with a healthier popcorn product.

Pam tells us, "I fell into the food business due to my entrepreneurial spirit” and her efforts have paid off. Pam has been featured in various media publications including the Chicago Tribune and recently made Crain's 40 Under 40 where she says, "you have to be open to change, to spot opportunities and take chances."

And, like many of our Chicago foodie friends, Pam has a special place in her heart for Carol’s Cookies.

When did you have your first Carol’s Cookie? Years ago at Neiman Marcus.

What is your favorite thing about Carol or her cookies? I love how unique the cookies are. Not much like it in the market…Aside from them being beyond delicious.

If you were to create the perfect flavor for a Carol's Cookie, what would it be? No need. It already exists: Classic Chocolate Chip. 

A special thank you to Pam for taking the time to speak to us about her business. Now it’s time for all of us to go pick up both a sweet and a savory Chicago-style treat!

Chicago Food Entrepreneur Series: Meet Corey Kaplan of NYC Bagel Deli

Chicago is a city that’s passionate about food and hard work.  Many of you know our great city for “Chicago Style” hot dogs, pizza and Italian beef. On the sweeter side of life, there are iconic companies like Garret’s Popcorn, Eli’s Cheesecake (and Carol’s Cookies!) that have left quite an impression.  On the restaurant front, we’re grateful for Lettuce Entertain You. And for the best quick lunch you’ve ever had, there’s NYC Bagel Deli. And these are just a few…


Out of respect and appreciation for our fellow foodies, we wanted to introduce you to “the brains behind the tastes.”  We hope you enjoy getting to know some of the people behind your favorite local eats!


Our first interview is with Corey Kaplan, founder of NYC Bagel Deli.  Who doesn’t love NYC Bagel Deli’s ridiculously amazing homemade cream cheese, fresh bagels and Boar’s Head deli meat & cheese?! Oh yeah, and if you’re really a true Chicagoan, you’ll grab a Carol’s Cookies to top it off! 

Meet Corey Kaplan!


Where can we visit a NYC Bagel Deli?

We have three main locations: River North, Lincoln Park and South Loop. We also make NY Style thin crust pizza at the Citigroup Center food court in Ogilvie Station and sell our pizza “slices” at the River North location.

Describe your business.


 My business is New York Style in Chicago… WHOAAA! So, we walk a fine line.  We have the BEST New York Style kettle boiled bagels, homemade cream cheese and Boar’s Head brand meats and cheese.

How did you get into the food business?

I got into the food business 30 years ago in New Jersey. All Jewish boys worked at a bagel shop! 

What’s your favorite food?

An everything bagel with chive cream cheese, lox, tomato, capers and red onion.

When did you have your first Carol’s Cookie?

My daughter Nikki bought me a chocolate chip cookie years ago and ever since then we have been selling 20 dozen per week!!!

What do you associate Carol’s Cookies with?

Carol’s Cookies are true comfort food to me. A cookie in the microwave with chocolate chip ice cream on it, WOWWWWW!!!

What is your favorite thing about Carol or her cookies?

The fact that Carol is answering the phones and still “in the daily mix” – I LOVE IT!!!

If you were to create the perfect flavor for a Carol's Cookie, what would it be?


Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us Corey!  After writing this post, it’s safe to say we’ll see you around lunch time!