Urbanspace Challenge Finalists


Chicagoland, we’re excited to announce that we’ve narrowed down the field of contestants for the Urbanspace Challenge to three talented chefs. One of these local entrepreneurs is hoping to radically change their lives by bringing their unique culinary perspective to your palate in early 2020. Read on to learn more about their impressive credentials, which will lead one of them to win 3-months of free rent in our new Chicago location, development assistance, media placements, and other valuable resources that will help their small business thrive.


John Badal

North Branch Gourmet

You can find North Branch’s savory jams and BBQ sauces at the Portage Park Farmer’s Market, but chef/owner John Badal wants to bring the smoke to go with the fire. The husband and wife team behind North Branch Gourmet are passionate about sourcing local, natural ingredients, which is why you won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup or 10-syllable ingredients in their product. John specializes in Chicago-style smoked meats, but we’re equally intrigued by the Pimento Cheese Spring Rolls, a new twist on an old-school foodie favorite.

Sruthi Swaminathan

Kitchening Around

Mom, neuroscientist, and food blogger Sruthi Swaminathan wants to evolve her philosophy of “Kitchening Around” — cooking with whatever is on hand — to unleash the power of her Indian-Mexican fusion concept on the Chicago food scene. “Food consumes me as much as I consume it,” she said in her entry video. We can relate. Sruthi’s concept includes drool-worthy ideas like Dry Chorizo Curry Tacos and Scallion and Jalapeño Chutney Queso with Papadum, which begs the question: why hasn’t someone thought of this before?


Melody Adeniyi

African cuisine made healthy

Chi SuyA Spice is the foundation of Heels in Health, but don’t expect chef Melody Adeniyi to divulge the recipe — those are family secrets. Beyond offering catering and specialized ethnic meal prep services, her African spice company is aimed at helping people live healthier lifestyles through better eating habits. Look for dishes like her signature Nigerian Coconut Rice, served in an actual coconut.

Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll introduce you to the panel of judges who will decide the winner of Urbanspace Challenge Chicago!