Flavor experimentation and beloved memories in the kitchen inspired many of this year’s top food business concepts for the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. Three start-up finalists and three early stage finalists will compete in the regional contest to find the next great start-up and early stage food entrepreneurs. The Challenge is sponsored by Ivy Tech Corporate College & Culinary Center and by Reliable Water Services, a local provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and water softeners.
Start-up finalists include:
- Ed Baun – Indianapolis, Ind. – Primal Delights Kombucha – Small batch, herbal infused beverages made with green or black tea; organic, non-GMO product; some flavors include fresh pressed fruit juices as well. Goal is to get the product on tap in local bars and restaurants.
- Jack Lasich – Indianapolis, Ind. – Papa Doc’s Gourmet Sausage Gravy – Bob Morse’s (Papa Doc) Gourmet Sausage Gravy; peppery, smoky flavor and rich, meaty texture. Goal is to see this on grocery store shelves.
- Robin Willis – Indianapolis, Ind. – Robbybaby’s Kitchen – Line of tea-infused jellies, made with local TeaPots n Treasures hand-mixed teas. Selections include Mom’s Apple Pie Jelly, Bobby’s Banana Butter, Pineapple Mint Jelly, Carrot Cake Jam, Blueberry Lemon Jam, and six tea jellies. Goal is to fine-tune packaging and expand distribution.
Early Stage finalists include:
- Michelle Traddell – Avon, Ind. –Indiana Craft Jerky – Handcrafted jerky. Goal is to continue with business plan development and continue expanding distribution.
- Zachariah Rohn –Indianapolis, Ind. – Batch No. 2 – Artisan condiment company specializing in mustard and catsup. Products include Original Wholegrain Mustard, Blackened Cajun Mustard, Purple Pride Mustard, Ballpark Yellow Mustard and Tomato Catsup. Goal is to expand production processes and distribution capabilities as well as increase marketing.
- Abby Reckard – Indianapolis, Ind. – Lemon Tree Cookies – Custom designed, hand-decorated sugar cookies. Goal is to scale up production process to meet current demand.
The public is invited to watch finalists compete for the grand prize in a judging event at Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center, 2820 North Meridian St., Indianapolis on Wed., June 22, at noon. The grand prize winner in each category will win:
- $2,000 in seed money from Reliable to start their business
- $1,000 scholarship from Ivy Tech Community College
- $250 shopping spree from Zesco.com, restaurant supply.
- An article in Edible Indy magazine
- Two People’s Choice winners will receive $1,000 each from Shapiro’s Deli
Judges for the contest include:
- Michael Joy, chef/director of product development, Park 100 Foods
- Jennifer Rubenstein, publisher of Edible Indy
- Ian Kille, executive chef, MCL Restaurant & Bakery
- Scott Wise, president & CEO, Scotty’s Brewhouse
- Carrie Abbott, owner, Newfangled Confections
- Brian Shapiro, owner, Shapiro’s Deli
“Each year, we are so impressed with the creativity and passion among these challengers and we can’t wait to see the level of energy that each food entrepreneur brings to our finalist competition,” said Jennifer Rubenstein, contest judge. For more information, visit Reliable Water Services at www.reliablewater247.com/hottest-kitchen.