Auntie Jill’s to Take Part in Taste of Madison

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By: 
Michelle Phillips
Top to bottom: Jill Enerson with daughters Arianna, Addalie and Annaliese, all work at Auntie Jill’s Custom Cheesecakes; Raspberry is one of the flavors offered at Tased of Madison; Taking part in the prejudging for Taste of Madison.

MIDDLETON–Jill Enerson was fresh off a divorce and trying to find a way to make more money to support her three daughters when she decided to launch Auntie Jill’s Custom Cheesecakes 10 years ago. Now the Middleton woman has won a blue ribbon in the Taste of Madison Homestyle Desserts category, and earned a place at the prestigious and highly sought-after event.

“I thought about doing Taste of Madison for four years and finally decided to put in an application,” she said of her entry.

In July she went to the pre-judging where more than 30 restaurants were presenting their creations. Enerson chose to do frozen cheesecake on a stick. “Everything at fairs is on a stick, so we might as well join them,” she laughed.

Auntie Jill’s quickly became a family affair with daughters Arianna, 22, and twins Addalie and Annaliese, 16, by her side in the kitchen. Enerson said the girls have been her biggest fans and provided the best quality control.

She said she was always the person in her family to bring desserts to gatherings, and the transition to a business seemed like a great way to earn money and show off her baking talents. Enerson added that it took about two years for her to implement her idea.

At first, that meant setting up at farmers markets, but Enerson said it was clear that the outdoor, often hot markets were not the best venues for her cheesecakes. She took a sample into Metcalf’s and they called her almost immediately to learn more about selling the creamy confections. She then expanded to serve the cheesecakes at area restaurants, including Free House in Middleton and the Way Point Public House in Monona. She also takes dessert orders and caters events.

Enerson, who is also a para educator at Middleton High School, said that she hopes being in Taste of Madison will give her business more exposure. 

“The whole goal of this is to leave a legacy for my girls,” she explained. “We see ourselves as the next Mrs. Fields–there is always someone to come after.”

She said she and her daughters worked for six weeks to make 6,000 serving of cheesecake on a stick, and flavors include Gluten Free Chocolate Chip (winner at Taste of Madison), Raspberry and Grasshopper. “Now we’re working on a marketing campaign,” Enerson said, adding that she will be revamping and relaunching her website: the auntiejills.com. 

In the event that her business should become more than she can handle in a small commercial kitchen, she has been in talks with Swiss Colony as a production facility. “If this explodes, I will figure it out,” she stated.

The seemingly tireless Enerson has just been accepted into the “Grow Your Own” program through the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District as well. The program offers employees a chance to return to school and pursue higher education in a teaching field.

If that weren’t enough, Enerson also cooks a community meal each week at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Middleton, with the help of special needs student volunteers, and, of course, her daughters.

In addition, Enerson’s cheesecake is nominated for Madison Magazine’sBest of Madison competition. Voting for contestants is open until the end of August.

She said she is excited about being included in Taste of Madison. Her biggest fear? “I’m concerned about running out of cheesecake!”

Taste of Madison will be held Aug. 31 from 2-8:30 p.m., and Sept. 1  from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Capitol Square in downtown Madison. For more information visit tasteofmadison.com.

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