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PRESS RELEASE: Relish Works, Gordon Food Service, and 1871 Announce Second Cohort for the Food Foundry Accelerator Program

The Food Foundry Accelerator seeks startups innovating the food value chain -- second cohort to begin in January 2020. Applications for The Food Foundry Cohort 2 are open now through October 16th.

 01 team

CHICAGO (August 16, 2019) -- The Food Foundry, a Chicago-based growth accelerator by Relish Works, in partnership with Gordon Food Service and 1871 to support, connect, and propel innovative startups who are reimagining the food industry, will be launching its second cohort in January of 2020; applications are now open. 

The Food Foundry program combines the resources of a national foodservice distributor with a premiere regional startup ecosystem and deep professional expertise in human-centered design and concept testing. The program supports startups by providing access to key foodservice resources such as supply chain, distribution, and stores, along with professional expertise, guidance, and connections to an extensive network of restaurant operators and entrepreneurs. 

“With The Food Foundry, we saw an opportunity to help companies that are leading the evolution of the food ecosystem, and our first cohort was a huge success. I’m looking forward to building upon that success with the passionate, creative, and driven people we’ll have the opportunity to work with this year." – Nick Florek, Director, The Food Foundry

Built on the successes of their first cohort - $4.5 million collectively raised by their startups, seven Gordon Food Service market tests, and three companies expanding to Chicago - The Food Foundry has further enhanced the accelerator’s approach for cohort two. The program is customized to the needs of startups, which includes one week of curriculum in Chicago each month, followed by three weeks focused on implementing those learnings. It will also provide:

  • $75,000 in venture capital funding per startup
  • Access to expertise from Gordon Food Service for mentorship and opportunities to assist growth
  • Tailored curriculum, workshops, and mentorship from seasoned founders and advisors
  • Membership to 1871 and its exclusive system of perks, workshops, mentors, and networking
  • Dedicated office and meeting spaces
  • Access to Relish Work's co-investor network to raise capital for scaling operations
  • Ability to tap into and leverage Relish Work's experts in design, business operations, and branding

“It’s a privilege to partner once again with Relish Works and Gordon Food Service to further innovation in the food space. We exist to inspire, support, and equip founders to build great businesses, and we’re thrilled to continue that mission in the food distribution industry by sharing our resources, network, and expertise with this upcoming cohort." – Betsy Ziegler, CEO, 1871

In addition to 1871’s offerings, participants will gain access to the full resources and expertise of GordonFood Service’s wholesale food distribution and market-facing stores, including facilities for testing solutions, supplier relationships, industry experience, and access to design, business, and branding experts.

"Gordon Food Service is a company that was built on innovation, and pushing the boundaries of our industry is in our DNA. The first cohort of The Food Foundry enabled us to work with inspiring individuals who had new and fresh perspectives on problems we face everyday and they challenged us to think differently. I’m excited to continue supporting this program and our continued partnership with 1871 in doing so.” – Rich Wolowski, North American President and CEO, Gordon Food Service

Applications are open now through October 16 and the program will start in January 2020. The FoodFoundry team will have open office hours across North America throughout the fall to connect in-person with startups interested in applying--more information can be found here. Interested parties can apply to be a part of this cohort here.

To learn more about The Food Foundry’s second cohort, please contact Yun Tai at or Laura Habegger at

About Relish Works

Relish Works is an innovation hub leading disruption in the food industry. Its purpose is to generate innovative solutions to the most pressing customer problems and unmet needs by creating partnerships, designing new solutions, and making strategic investments. Relish Works has deep professional expertise in human-centered design, customer experience, strategy, and early-stage investing. The office is located in the Merchandise Mart building in downtown Chicago. 

About Gordon Food Service

Since 1897, we have delivered uncompromising quality and heartfelt service to our customers. We began as a simple butter-and-egg delivery service, and have grown to become the largest family business in the foodservice industry by upholding the same approach for more than 120 years—remaining passionately committed to the people we serve. Today, we serve foodservice operators in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the United States and coast-to-coast in Canada. We also operate more than 175 Gordon Food Service StoreⓇ locations in the U.S. By partnering with organizations from across industries—healthcare to education, independent and chain restaurants, and event planners—we help our customers create food experiences that people choose, enjoy, and remember. To learn more about Gordon Food Service, visit

About 1871

1871 is a not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses. It is the #1 ranked university-affiliated business incubator in the world, and the home of ~500 high-growth technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Located in a 140,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has 350 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Visit for more information.

Yun Tai, Director of Communications
(910) 391-9496

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