Michelle is the main anchor for FOX 47 News at Nine in Madison. She also teaches communication courses at the university level.

You’ll see Michelle hosting dozens of area events throughout the year. She loves singing big band music, cooking TV, dancing and is a former competitive twirler!

She’s married to her very supportive husband, Nick. They have one son, who she says already out-wits her and a big fluffy standard poodle!

Laura Daniels is a local dairy farmer serving in many roles! She is a mother, wife, farmer, dairy consultant and agriculture advocate. At Heartwood Farm in Cobb, WI, Laura and husband Jarred Searls take great joy in teaching their children, Nathan (17) and Julia (13), their values as they work together. While Laura and Jarred share in ownership of the farm, it is Laura who serves as General Manager and is in charge of day‐to-day operations of the 300 Jersey cow farm. Laura also does consulting on team building, and employee motivation, for Star Blends Feed located in Sparta, WI. Laura is a graduate of UW-Madison in Dairy Science and Life Sciences Communications. She is the Founder of Dairy Girl Network, a networking group of nearly 5000 dairywomen across the world.  Inspiring women to connect and succeed is one of Laura's passions. While Laura is active with many local state and national organizations, her pride is being a Coach of the Iowa County 4‐H Dairy Judging Team for 17 years. Her barn office is her advocacy headquarters, where she takes time each day to spread pro‐agriculture messages. She also hits the road to deliver pro‐ag and motivational speeches across the country, inspiring many to find their passion, build their skills and have confidence to tell their story.

Carrie Mess


The Adventures of Dairy Carrie

Jeff Dombeck


Southwest Tech College 
Culinary Instructor

Erik co-edits Voice of the River Valley, the arts and events magazine of Wisconsin's southwestern Driftless Area, and heads Driftless Terroir Studio, an architectural and graphic design firm rooted in the region's flavor of place. By day, Erik is the director of development for Taliesin Preservation, the nonprofit responsible for the preservation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, studio, school, and agricultural estate in Spring Green, as well as the public programming that offers a greater understanding of Wright's architecture and ideas harmonizing architecture, art, culture, and the land.​

Beth Crave


Crave Cheese

Brett Kell



•  I believe strongly in my faith.
• I respect our earth and encourage living a sustainable lifestyle.
•  I have a wonderful soul mate Jeff, 2 beautiful daughters: Nick and Ash, 2 great son-in-laws
   and 7 amazing grandchildren.  
• Born in Lancaster, lives in Lancaster and will probable retire in Lancaster.
• Graduated from UW – Platteville with a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis
  in management, human resources and marketing.
• Has worked in the food service industry since she was 14.
• Comes from a long line of great cooks and bakers, it just seems to come naturally.
• Owned and operated the Arrow Inn restaurant in Lancaster for 8 years and
  Specially for You Catering 6.
• Has been a culinary art and management instructor at SWTC for 18 years.
• Food is my passion or maybe an obsession, not sure which, maybe both. 

  I go to bed thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it and I talk about it all day long.  

Beth grow up on a rural dairy farm in Reeseville, Wisconsin. She went to MATC (Madison College now) for Culinary Arts and Hotel/Restaurant Management. She is the Customer Service Manager and Corporate Chef for Crave Brother Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wisconsin; who makes award-winning fresh cheeses. She also writes the “Producer Plate” section for Hoard’s Dairymen out of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. 

Beth is very passionate about cooking and cheese making. She enjoys spending time in the kitchen with her two children Emma (7), and Kolbe (4) and traveling with her very supportive husband Karl.

Beth is very excited about being on the “other side” of the table for this year’s event! As she is the back-to-back reigning “best of show” champions from 2015 and 2016.

  • Loves watching the Brewers and Packers
  • Has been a culinary arts and management instructor at SWTC for 22 years.
  • Graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • I’ve had a passion for the industry since the day I walked into my first job as a dishwasher.
  • Enjoys a good cup of coffee in the morning, afternoon naps, old movies, vacations and most of all great food.
  • My career has given me the pleasure of working as a baker, food research & designer, chef to NFL football team, owner and operator of a catering company.  

Carrie Mess is a mom, dairy farmer, blogger, speaker and agvocate for agriculture from Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Farming in partnership with her husband Patrick and his parents on their 100 cow dairy, Carrie shares her story and connects with those unfamiliar with agriculture via social media and her blog, The Adventures of Dairy Carrie. Her efforts to be a part of the conversation on food and farming, sharing candid stories of her life on the farm and tackling tough subjects has led her to be selected as the 2014 Social Media Farmer of the Year and 2017 WI Ag Woman of the Year. Her writing has been featured in The Guardian and Huffington Post.

Max Zimmerman


Zimmerman Transfer Inc. 

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Erik Flesch


Voice of the River Valley Magazine
​Design Director

Max is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduation this spring he will join Zimmerman Transfer Inc. (ZTI) as the Milk Operations Officer (MOO). ZTI is a 4th generation family owned business located right in Dodgeville, WI. ZTI serves customers across the Midwest, specializing in the shipment of milk, cream, and whey products. 

Mayor Todd Novak


City of Dodgeville/Wisconsin State Assembly
Mayor/Assemblyman

Keith writes about food and the business of food in the Driftless Area for the website Driftless Appetite, as well as other publications such as the Voice of the River Valley.  In his day job, he is a glass scientist.

Keith Burrows


Driftless Appetite

Food Blogger

Brett Kell is an award-winning writer who has contributed to numerous publications and websites. A lifelong lover of food and cooking, he has been a feature contributor to Edible Milwaukee magazine, for which he has written about distilling in Milwaukee, urban aquaponics, eating invasive species, cheese and many other topics. Fun facts: he used to write restaurant profiles for The Onion, and occasionally leads chocolate pairing classes at Indulgence Chocolatiers in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, where his favorite topic is whiskey. At his day job, Brett is a senior communications manager for a national organization of skin cancer surgeons.

Laura Daniels



As one of a handful of American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals in Wisconsin, Jeanne is the founder and executive director of Wisconsin Cheese Originals, where she educates consumers about the art and science of cheese through tasting seminars, tours and cheesy events. She and her husband own Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese in Oregon, Wisconsin. Her motto is: Have Fun. Do Good. Eat Cheese.

Jeanne Carpenter


Wisconsin Cheese Originals

Chief Cheese Geek

Karen Bast


Southwest Tech College
Culinary Arts / Management Instructor

 2018 Competition Judges

Michelle Carolla


WMSN - FOX 47 News - Madison, WI

 Main News Anchor