The True Way

After a few detours, Milwaukee chef and Funky Fresh Spring Rolls founder TrueMan McGee heads for the national spotlight

TrueMan McGee can't contain his enthusiasm for Funky Fresh Spring Rolls

TrueMan McGee can't contain his enthusiasm for Funky Fresh Spring Rolls

Thanks to MATC, TrueMan McGee shouldn't have any trouble solving this knotty multiplication problem:

Take a business creating unique, gourmet spring rolls that began in his parents’ kitchen and grow it exponentially into a national brand available at thousands of stores from California to New York.

For the answer, McGee, who founded Funky Fresh Spring Rolls in 2013, is using skills he learned in MATC’s Sheet Metal apprenticeship program from 2005 until 2010.

“The things I learned at MATC I still use to this day: project management, troubleshooting, math,” said McGee, a lifelong Milwaukee resident. “At MATC, I learned that math isn’t just paper on a test. I learned that I had to apply math at my job. If I wasn’t good at math, I wouldn’t have a job.

“I also learned that if there is a will, there is a way,” McGee added. “You need to have the will to do it. You can’t wish it to happen. You have to have the will to make it happen.”

Today, McGee is trying to make something big happen. Ten years after selling his first spring rolls, McGee is partnering with Milwaukee-based pizza company Palermo Villa to transform Funky Fresh into a national food brand. So far, Funky Fresh rolls are available in nearly 200 grocery stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.

“The plan is to create a thriving national business and make Funky Fresh a household name,” McGee said.


MATC has some of the best programs to start or further your career.

Trueman McGee founder, Funky Fresh Spring Rolls

McGee opened his first retail store in downtown Milwaukee’s Shops of Grand Avenue mall in 2018 and then moved to the Sherman Phoenix Marketplace in the Sherman Park neighborhood later that year.

The store soon had an avid, hungry following, offering nontraditional gourmet spring rolls handcrafted with fresh and local ingredients and baked in oil instead of deep-fried. The shop also became a community meeting place and training ground for young Black workers thinking about their future.

“Back then I did and I still do talk up MATC,” McGee said. “MATC has some of the best programs to start or further your career. I tell people they don’t need a bigger school or a place where they might incur a lot of debt. I tried to be a role model, especially to young Black men. I hoped to show them that with energy and effort, anything is possible.”

McGee was born in Milwaukee and grew up at 26th and Burleigh streets. He had nine brothers and sisters and was the youngest of seven boys. “You learn to find your own way,” he said. “When you’re not the strongest, not the smartest and not the fastest, you watch and learn the lessons of others.”

Growing up, he wanted to be a movie director or a chef. “My mom stayed at home and cooked huge dinners for the family. In the summer, she catered,” he said. “Food sets the tone. Food connects us. It’s always there. We meet for lunch, we meet for dinner. Many times, the better the food, the better the event.”

McGee graduated from what was then called Milwaukee Technical High School, now Milwaukee Public Schools’ Bradley Technology and Trade High School or simply “Bradley Tech.” The school pushed the trades as the best way to a career, so McGee took sheet metal classes.

In 2005, he enrolled in MATC’s Sheet Metal apprenticeship program. He took courses at the Oak Creek Campus, learning to fabricate, assemble, install and repair sheet metal products and equipment, such as ducts, control boxes, drainpipes and furnace casings.

“MATC felt like my high school. It was laid out the same way, but I knew I was learning for real,” McGee said. “If I didn’t learn it, I might not get a job.”

McGee finished his classes in 2010. He was working toward becoming a journeyman sheet metal worker when he got laid off in 2012. At the time, all he knew was the trade, but his old desire to be a chef resurfaced.

He started Funky Fresh and coached high school wrestling until the food business caught on. In 2022, the Milwaukee Business Journal honored him as a 40 Under 40 recipient. In 2023, he connected with Palermo and closed the Sherman Phoenix store.

These days, McGee travels the country drumming up business for his brand, serving up samples in supermarkets and making short videos. He wants to see Funky Fresh products in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, where his parents now live. He’d love to someday have a Funky Fresh manufacturing plant that employs hundreds of people in the city of Milwaukee.

“I knew that this transition would change my life, I just didn’t know how much,” McGee said. “Everything takes longer than it used to. I’m working more on the computer, making connections and networking. This is a journey, but I believe I have the skills to get it done.”

Keep up with the latest news from TrueMan McGee at


MATC Alumni Spotlight

The Magic of Alumni Connections

TrueMan McGee with Palermo Villa President Angelo Fallucca and Chief Creative Officer Laurie Fallucca

TrueMan McGee (center) with Palermo Villa President Angelo Fallucca and Chief Creative Officer Laurie Fallucca

To bring his Funky Fresh Spring Rolls onto the national stage, TrueMan McGee partnered with Palermo Villa. The Milwaukee-based company is led by quite a few MATC alumni, including President Angelo Fallucca and Chief Creative Officer Laurie Fallucca.

“We all share the same entrepreneurial spirit,” said Angelo, an MATC Business and Accounting graduate. “That’s what drew us to TrueMan and his business.”

And they share the experience of studying at MATC. All three credit the college with teaching them skills they’ve applied in their business and community initiatives.

“MATC has had a major, positive impact on my professional life,” said Laurie, who earned a degree in
fashion. “How I approach each day with a positive ‘cando’ attitude came from my wonderful instructors
at MATC.”

What advice do these executives have for entrepreneurs like McGee?

“The key is to find what your natural gifts and passions are and then go after them with gusto,” Laurie said.