If you’ve had the Korean Reuben at the VFC Deli, then you’ve experienced the delicious flavor of Fizzeology Kimchi. Like all of Fizzeology’s products, the Kickapoo Kimchi is a raw ferment that contains live enzymes and probiotics. The ingredients are sourced from local farms and the production takes place at the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua.
When Rob Andolsek and his wife Shawna took over Fizzeology Foods, they were looking for an opportunity to buy a business that would involve their whole family. Rob is a project engineer in product development at
S&S Cycle in Viola, and naturally interested in new projects and processes, while Shawna is an emergency room nurse at Vernon Memorial Hospital. They took over operations in August of 2021 and we checked in with Rob to learn more about their story and the future of Fizzeology Foods.
What inspired you to take over ownership of Fizzeology Foods?
When we heard Faith Anacker was selling, we met with her to learn more about the business. The more we learned, the more we felt like it was the right fit for us. We were looking for something to share with our 13-year-old twin daughters and being part of the food culture in the area is an exciting opportunity for all of us. We learned that Fizzeology has a solid customer base and great products. But it was the connection to community and established relationships with local farmers and organizations that really resonated.
Tell us more about the fermentation process that make Fizzeology products so delicious?
We buy “seconds” from several local Amish and CSA farms – product that is not pretty enough or sized right for market but perfect for fermentation. Buying seconds helps to keep production costs down but also helps to reduce food waste in the region.
The vegetables for all of our ferments are chopped and prepped by us and by staff from Employment Partners, a program owned and operated by Daniel Chotzen that provides job coaching to adults who have difficulties finding employment.
Then the raw ingredients are shredded and mixed with salt and left to sit for a day. After being drained of excess moisture, the veggies are packed into wood barrels, covered with large cabbage leaves, and weighted with granite stone where it is left to ferment for several weeks before it is packed into jars. This raw fermentation process keeps beneficial enzymes and probiotics alive which adds to the health benefits of the final product.
What have been your biggest challenges
Sourcing glass jars has been a challenge as well as finding the best way to ship product on a regional scale. We have found some solutions to shipping by working with local farms who already have established distribution networks. We are also working on timing. It takes four weeks from the start of a batch until it is ready to ship – so it’s tricky to get it right and have the stock to send when orders are placed. We are looking at ways to streamline operations and will purchase more barrels to enable us to have more ferments in process at one time.
What is your favorite product?
My whole family loves the curtido made with cabbage, cilantro, oregano, and a touch of lime. One of our favorite meals is a grilled egg, ham, and cheese sandwich with some Kickapoo Curtido.
What are your future plans?
We intend to keep all of the signature recipes and maybe add some new ones to the mix as things progress. We would love to get more local farms involved and build more relationships.
Find all of their signature products including Ginger Carrots, German Style Sauerkraut, Kickapoo Kimchi, Fermented Chili Sauce, Naked Sauerkraut, Kickapoo Curtido, and Seasonal Sauerkraut in our refrigerated section here at the Co-op!