The team behind the successful recipe website Fit Foodie Finds — all best friends — was never one to follow a predictable path.

"We've always kind of liked to do things our own way, do things a little bit differently," said founder Lee Funke. "So when we were exploring what our next business move was, we kept coming back to we love meeting people that we share our food with on the internet. We love feeding people in our lives. So that's always been in the back of our minds: restaurant, food truck — what would that look like?"

Turns out it looks like a 40-foot mobile kitchen parked outside Forgotten Star Brewing in Fridley.

It also turns out that Funke and her colleagues, editor-in-chief Emily Richter and recipe developer Linley Hanson, are family friends with Forgotten co-owner Andy Risvold.

"He's also a visionary, and we talked to him about how we can partner and interweave our businesses together and make something really great," Funke said. "And then we just did."

Hodgepodge quietly opened a few weeks ago, a 50-50 partnership between the website and the brewery, and will have its grand opening this weekend.

Their goal is threefold, Richter said: "We wanted to have options for everyone, so a balanced but still indulgent menu; the ability to feed your entire family, because this is such a family-friendly space; and something different and fun, which is honestly how we landed on the name Hodgepodge."

College beginnings

The three women behind Fit Foodie Finds graduated from the University of Minnesota, where Funke started the website College Foodie Finds in 2010.

"I read healthy living blogs in college and was trying to figure out a way to connect with like-minded people," she said. "But then things snowballed so quickly. And I really found the niche that I liked most was recipes and sharing food with people and I think that resonated with most of our followers. Then we weren't in college anymore, so I changed the name."

After a stint in corporate social media, Funke took "a million" part-time jobs to support herself as she tried to turn her passion into a full-time career. Hanson came aboard a decade ago, starting with social media help and is now the recipe developer. Richter joined a year later, first working with branding and now as the site's editor.

"We grew up on social media, but you couldn't major in that when we were in school, but that's essentially how we got our feet off the ground," Richter said. "We started when Instagram just became a thing; we call ourselves the OG influencers."

"One of our first viral posts was how to cook quinoa in your dorm room microwave," she said. "That's how much the audience has grown with us over the years. We've grown up with the company, and so have our followers."

The website draws between 2 million and 3 million visitors each month (and has a robust Instagram following of 334,000 followers) and generates enough revenue from branding and partnerships to offer its content for free. Recipes are added weekly, and there are nearly 2,000 recipes in their archive, ranging from dips and bowls to casseroles and cocktails. All have accessible ingredients, approachable methods and a touch of the Midwest.

A new adventure

When it came time to grow the business, part of the draw to Forgotten Star was the brewery itself, which they liken to a community center with its constant hum of activity. They're frequent visitors, too.

"We feel very supported by the Forgotten Star team, because we're doing what we're good at, and they're doing what they're good at," Funke said. "It's been the three of us for almost 10 years now. It's been really awesome to branch out."

Adding a mobile kitchen to the fold didn't come without a learning curve. New to the art of prepared food, they sought out help with from experts. Lily Altemose bridges the two businesses, serving as general manager of both. And consultant Evan Sjodin brought a decade of restaurant experience to the table, advising on everything from scaling up recipes typically meant to serve four and working with suppliers.

Hodgepodge aims to be seasonal and leans on the team's Midwestern upbringing, with nods to that on the menu.

"Our food philosophy is whole healthy eating. We knew people wanted indulgent and people wanted healthier options; we wanted some middle ground," said Hanson. "And we wanted it to be really affordable for families."

The most popular item has been the Sweet Corn Smashie, a smashburger topped with cheese, a special sauce and sweet corn relish ("Now that we've discovered the sweet corn relish, we're like what does it not go on?" Richter says). A close second is the wild rice brat. The team embraces trends, too. The Dilly Dally chicken salad incorporates dill pickles ("when we put that on Instagram it went crazy," Funke said) and they love a good sauce — there are six.

The summer menu will evolve as Hodgepodge does. Look for new ice cream flavors and a heartier version of the Hodgepodge Bowl for those who don't eat meat. Also on tap are seasonal specials and menus to pair with brewery events. They're taking full advantage of the partnership by suggesting beers to pair with each dish, and Hanson is still tinkering with the right mix of Forgotten Star beer for the cheese sauce.

The pairings — both beer and business — suit the longtime friends, who frequented the brewery with their families long before talks of Hodgepodge began. But with all the longstanding friendships in the mix — both with each other and their new Forgotten Star family — were there reservations about diving into a partnership?

"It's the only thing we know," Funke said.

"It just worked out perfectly that Andy approached us. It was like 'You're our people,' " Hanson said.

"And this was such a unique way to see our recipes be eaten by people in front of us, in real life outside their home kitchens," Richter said. "You get to see a photo, or a video on social, or a comment with a photo, or hear a nice email, but you don't get to see people eating your food.

"At our first soft opening weekend, at one point we all just took a step back. And we're like, 'Wow, people are eating our food. That's really cool.' "

About Hodgepodge

Where: 38 Northern Stacks Drive, Fridley,,

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except Wednesdays, when the team resets for the weekend and the brewery hosts guest food trucks. June 15-16 is the grand opening, with food and beer deals, a Hodgepodge beer release, a kids' storytime and Father's Day specials. See the website for details. Brewery hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.

How to order: Head to the window at the truck, and you'll receive a text when your food is ready. QR codes are on the way, and so is online ordering, a boon for area workers. (Hodgepodge is the closest food option in 3 square miles.)

The food: Get everything from pretzels, burgers and brats to bowls and chicken salad. (Top price is $14 for the Sweet Corn Smashie.) Recipes are seasonal; some come from the Fit Foodie Finds website, others are developed for the food truck. Still others might come from the staff and what customers want to see. "That's the beauty of the name Hodgepodge," Funke says.

Favorite recipes: For Richter it's the sweet corn smashie; Funke likes the sweet potato fries with the hot honey drizzle. Hanson's go-to combo is the smashie with the sweet potato fries. All are big fans of the sauces, especially the burger sauce (inspired by Thousand Island dressing) and Top the Spud, their tangy, yogurt-based take on the Minnesota classic.

The recipe that's most like them: The Hodgepodge bowl — kale salad, quinoa, meat protein, hummus. "It's like how we eat in real life, so that's very true to us."

Non-negotiables: When planning the menu, ice cream, sauces and a kids' menu were all on the trio's must-have list.

And that colorful truck: The 40-foot truck, formerly Boomin' Barbecue with an attached smoker, houses a complete commercial kitchen for year-round use. Now with a facade and greenery, it looks right at home outside the brewery. The bright design was inspired by the graffiti on nearby trains.

Fit Foodie Finds fun facts

Home office: Fit Foodie Finds is based in St. Louis Park, where all the recipe developing and shooting is done from a one-bedroom apartment.

Another website: There's a sister site,, that was built as a pandemic project. "We kept coming back to cheese and our Midwestern roots," Richter said. You'll find more than a dozen mac and cheese recipes and puns like "Brie our guest."

Teamwork: The team brainstorms recipes together in batches, working two to three months in advance, taking into consideration seasonality and what's trending. "When cottage cheese was having a moment and everyone was blending it into dips and ice cream, we jumped on it," Richter said.

Another cook in the kitchen: The addition of kitchen manager Rosie Lodien has helped share the workload. A former cheesemonger, she helps Hanson develop recipes for Cheese Knees and also has a "baking brain," which complements Hanson's "cooking brain."

A little help from friends: They now outsource the site's photography, but still provide art direction. They're still creating the videos, doing 20 to 30 shoots every six weeks.

Burger Sauce Recipe

Serves 4.

You'll never make burgers without this easy burger sauce again. No more store-bought burger sauce filled with ingredients you can't pronounce. From Fit Foodie Finds. The sauce tops the Sweet Corn Smashie Burger at Hodgepodge, or you can order it on the side.

• 1/2 c. Greek yogurt

• 2 tbsp. mayonnaise

• 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

• 2 tbsp. pickle juice

• 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

• 1/2 tsp. chili powder

• 1/4 c. ketchup

• 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper


Place all of the ingredients for the burger sauce into a mixing bowl and whisk together until combined. Place the burger sauce in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It will keep up to 3 days in the fridge, just stir before serving.