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Unique Flavors Make Funky Fresh Spring Rolls

Aug. 15, 2017
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In 2012, things weren’t going well for Trueman McGee. He was overweight and laid off from his construction job, so he decided to make some lifestyle changes. Adapting to a better way of eating led to a new career as a food entrepreneur—Funky Fresh Spring Rolls—in which he puts unique healthy twists on a traditional favorite.

McGee refers to March 1, 2012 as his ‘re-birthday’. “That was the day after some of my favorite wrestlers won state titles, and I decided to take control of my life,” he reflected. McGee wrestled during his teens at Milwaukee Tech (now Bradley Tech) high school and later coached wrestling at Pulaski High School.

McGee started working out at the Lakefront. A friend gave him a tractor tire that he could use for a variety of boot camp-style workouts. When a passer-by asked what he was doing, McGee replied, “I’m getting tired.” By July 2012, McGee was 50 pounds lighter and training other people through non-traditional, outdoor workouts with objects recycled from around the city, such as tires and old water hoses.

He formed a personal training business, aptly named Getting Tire’D Fitness. In addition to fitness, he found that people wanted to eat healthier. “I came up with a sweet potato and black bean burrito. It was delicious, but something told me it would taste better in an egg roll. I didn’t deep fry it, but instead grilled it in healthy oils, and it was a hit.”

McGee played around with different flavors such as chicken and kale, and broccoli-chicken-mushroom. He switched to spring roll wrappers, which are thinner than egg roll wrappers and cost less. By 2015, he was getting more calls about food than fitness, and he realized that he had a sustainable business model. Like naming his personal training business, finding a moniker for the spring rolls venture came easily. “‘Funky’ means something different, and I wanted to work in ‘fresh’, too,” he said.

By the end of 2016, McGee had sold over 32,000 spring rolls and was expanding his presence at farmers markets and events. He no longer coaches wrestling or works as a personal trainer, and instead sells his spring rolls at farmers markets in Shorewood, Waukesha, Brown Deer, Enderis Park and area events.

There are four standard spring roll flavors: sweet potato and black bean, with onions, peppers and cilantro; buffalo chicken and kale; the chicken club; and the chicken broccoli and mushroom. Several rotating flavors including honey sriracha chicken and asparagus (chickpeas are substituted for a vegetarian version), and chicken curry and quinoa. And don’t forget the dipping sauce—McGee makes his Funky Fresh Sauce with Greek yogurt.

In keeping with his health-conscious mission, Funky Fresh Spring Rolls are grilled, not fried, at a lower temperature so as to not damage the oils. There are also salads like the Mean Green with massaged kale, and quinoa bowls. McGee uses local ingredients whenever possible.

McGee’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last year, he placed second in the Rev-Up MKE competition. In April, Funky Fresh Spring Rolls was among the top 10 winners in the FedEx Small Business Grant, where he won $7,500 in grants money and an additional $1,000 in FedEx office services. He’s considering expanding Funky Fresh Spring Rolls into grocery stores, opening a take-out store or restaurant, or a food truck.

For more information, visit funkyfresh.kitchen.

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