Food Foundry Announces Sixth Cohort of Early-Stage Foodservice Startups


CHICAGO (April 2, 2024) — Food Foundry, a founder community and accelerator program for innovative businesses disrupting the food and foodservice industry, built by Relish Works and Gordon Food Service, announces the five startups that will join their sixth cohort starting in April 2024. 

For its sixth year, Food Foundry sought early-stage startups using advanced technologies to revolutionize customer experiences in the restaurant industry. Prior years of the program have focused on restaurant technology and F&B products interested in moving to foodservice. 

Food Foundry is excited to welcome the following five startups to Cohort 6:

  • Appetronix is a fully autonomous robotic restaurant in a box that cooks made to order meals in a vending machine format. 
  • Encounter AI is redefining the frontline worker experience with their AI assistant, MAI. Developed with technology capable of understanding voice, MAI offers a seamless, mistake-free ordering process. 
  • Foodini matches diners with dietary needs to the venues and menus suitable for them. 
  • Let Us Nudge helps restaurants turn tables during busy times and fill seats during slow times through their seamless and subtle nudge incentives.
  • Localyser helps multi-location restaurant brands turn online reviews into their most effective marketing tool by automating the tracking, replying and analysis of online reviews from various sources, all from one easy to use dashboard.

“Through our longstanding commitment to innovation and collaboration, Gordon Food Service continues to reimagine the foodservice landscape. Now on our sixth cohort of Food Foundry startups, we are always energized by the visionary founders who champion novel solutions for restaurant operators and diners alike,” said Rich Wolowski, President & CEO of Gordon Food Service. 

The selection process for Food Foundry’s 2024 cohort was rigorous, with each of the five chosen companies demonstrating remarkable innovation, robust founder teams, and a keen enthusiasm to engage with industry experts within the interconnected ecosystems of Relish Works and Gordon Food Service.

Mandy Tahvonen, VP & Managing Director of Relish Works said, “At Relish Works and Gordon Food Service, innovation drives our every endeavor. We eagerly embrace our sixth cohort, anticipating the infusion of fresh energy and ideas into our vibrant community.”

Additionally, Food Foundry welcomes the following Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) to support the sixth cohort:

  • Robert Snyder, Founder of Reframe and Co-Founder and Advisor at HourWork
  • Luisa Castellanos, Co-Founder and COO at Science on Call 

Each EIR holds extensive knowledge and experience gained from launching businesses in the foodservice spaces and will serve as a key go-to mentor to cohort members during the program. 

Food Foundry’s accelerator program offers each startup accepted into the program a $15K equity-free stipend, coupled with a plethora of opportunities to delve deep into the nuances of the foodservice industry. Through personalized 1:1 mentorship, tailored programming, exclusive events, networking sessions, workshops, and beyond, founders gain invaluable insights and support to grow their businesses. Cohort 6 is scheduled to commence in April 2024 and the program will culminate with a Demo Day in May 2024.
To learn more about Food Foundry’s sixth cohort or its member companies, please visit

About Food Foundry

Food Foundry, a founder community and accelerator program built in collaboration with Relish Works and Gordon Food Service, advances innovative businesses who are reshaping the food and foodservice industry. From early-stage innovators to established industry leaders, Food Foundry cultivates a dynamic ecosystem of support through strategic investment, network access, guidance, and tailored programming. Over the past five years, 30 alumni companies have graduated from the Food Foundry program who have gone on to raise $90M+ in venture funding.

About Relish Works

Relish Works is a Chicago-based innovation hub leading disruption in the food and foodservice industry. Its purpose is to generate innovative solutions to the most pressing customer problems in the foodservice industry 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.

About Gordon Food Service

For more than 125 years, we have remained committed to the people we serve, delivering uncompromised quality and heartfelt service to our customers. Beginning as a simple butter-and-egg delivery service, we’ve grown to become the largest family-owned business in the foodservice industry. Today we serve foodservice operators in the United States and throughout Canada and operate more than 180 Gordon Food Service stores in the US. By partnering with organizations from across industries—restaurants, healthcare and colleges and universities—we help our customers create food experiences that people enjoy and remember.  To learn more about Gordon Food Service, visit

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