The Ladle Lady Warms Up Milwaukee One Bowl at a Time

Maryann Kmet understands that everyone loves soup and values ​​the way this warm, eclectic home cooked food is enjoyed in every culture. While working in restaurant kitchens, she was often assigned to make the day’s soup. A restaurant offering products to experiment with, as well as an auxiliary staff who helped her create new recipes, got her creativity going. In 2019 she founded her own company The Ladle Lady, which specializes in homemade soups, food bowls, pasta bowls and salads.

“You can make almost anything into a soup. Either it works or it doesn’t, but it’s worth a try, ”says Kmet. “Soup doesn’t talk to you. It’s not like baking, where everything has to be precise. You can get creative and set your own special accents. “

Kmet describes their business as a mix of a meal prep service and a standard delivery restaurant. She currently does not have a stationary location, but prepares her soups, bowls and salads in a large kitchen in Riverwest.

The Ladle Lady offers eight to ten rotating items per week, including three to four specialty soups to warm up and serve, packaged in quart-size containers with rolls and butter on the side. There is no minimum delivery. Kmet delivers within 10 miles of Riverwest. Customers can pre-order for the week or order the same day. It also offers full service catering.

Building on previous careers

Kmet has worked in all facets of the hospitality industry, including positions at the River Club of Mequon and The Brown Bottle. She has worked for catering companies, doing wedding and event planning. She has also worked as a personal trainer and fitness trainer in the fitness industry. “Soup is full of vegetables and nutrients, and it’s a low-calorie food that will put you on a healthy path,” she says.

Since The Ladle Lady opened, Kmet estimates that she has made around 70 different types of soup. Their popular Japanese detox with antioxidants like ginger and turmeric in a mushroom broth base appeals to the nutrition-friendly audience. The sweet potato curry soup has a butternut squash consistency and is made with coconut milk. It’s vegan and gluten free. There are standards such as chicken noodle soup, lots of chowders with cheese, mushroom biscuits, African hot peanuts, sweet and sour pork and an Italian sausage and spinach soup. Every weekly menu has something for everyone, including a meat and potato standard, a gluten-free soup, a vegetarian option and a “wildcard” that appeals to the masses.

Kmet tries to source the ingredients from the region whenever possible. She made connections with many local farmers while selling her soup at farmers markets in Whitefish Bay and Riverwest. She is particularly inspired by Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. “Asian cuisine consists of simple spices such as ginger, lemongrass and coriander. You can build your taste puzzle from this base of three to four spices. The taste is not always the same hot – you can make it spicy and aromatic with citrus fruits or ginger without adding a few chili powder. “

Other offerings include mac and cheese, a pineapple curry rice bowl, and a lemon pesto linguini bowl. The wide catering menu includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, sausage boards, starters, wraps, sandwiches, main courses and taco and nacho or Mediterranean-inspired bars.

Kmet is working to expand its presence in the Milwaukee area. She hopes to add more farmers markets, as well as pop-up events and wholesale accounts, this summer.

Although she founded The Ladle Lady shortly before the pandemic closed, a delivery-only model with an existing online ordering system helped her move from part-time to full-time very quickly.

“It was a roller coaster ride with great days and proud moments,” she concludes. “I compare it to having a baby that takes time and attention in the first few years, and then hopefully the toddler will blossom and become independent.”

For more information and weekly menus, visit theladlelady.com.

Sheila Julson

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer who enjoys capturing the stories behind Milwaukee’s hip food, drink and urban farming scenes. She also writes articles on holistic health, green living, sustainability, and human interests.

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January 14, 2022

8:37 a.m.

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