Contest aims to find next hot 'foodpreneur'

May 16, 2012
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It seems fitting that “foodpreneurship” is heating up nationwide. After all, where there’s smoke …

In this case, the fire is in the kitchen—lit by countless entrepreneurs looking to find a recipe for business success. Consider the explosion of food trucks and farmers’ markets, burger bars and brewery bites. Economic woes or not, people have to eat.

As IBJ reported last month, Indiana has joined about two dozen other states in allowing home-based food vendors to sell certain products with minimal state oversight, making it easier—and less expensive—for would-be entrepreneurs to explore the marketplace.

Now local food-business incubator Indy’s Kitchen is teaming up with equipment supplier Reliable Water Services to sponsor the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. About 60 aspiring entrepreneurs entered the regional competition, which will award prizes worth $3,500 to the winner.

Finalists will participate in a June 19 showdown at Indy’s Kitchen, which rents space in its Central Avenue commercial kitchen to food businesses of all kinds. The top competitors also will be invited to show off their products at the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s June 20 SchmoozaPalooza event at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where attendees will choose a “People’s Choice” winner.

Indianapolis resident Becky Eaton is excited to be one of the four judges. A foodpreneur herself, Eaton launched Becky’s Healthy Kitchen part-time early last year and says interest in her healthy cooking classes has been encouraging. She's eager to help others find their niche, even if it means more competition for her.

“People are coming up with good ideas all the time,” she said, but financing them can be a challenge—particularly for food-related businesses.

So the $2,500 in seed money that comes with the grand prize (along with a $500 gift certificate for professional cookware and $500 worth of consulting and commercial kitchen time) is a big draw, she said.

“We are so excited to help local entrepreneurs who have an innovative food-business idea but need resources to get started,” Reliable Water President Lynne Robinson said in a prepared statement.  “It’s very gratifying to know we can help kick-start someone’s culinary dream.”

The Milwaukee-based company, which provides water heaters, boilers and water softeners to commercial enterprises including restaurants, has a service center in Indianapolis.

Joining Eaton on the judging panel: Ian Kille, executive chef at MCL Restaurant & Bakery; Emory Constanios, executive chef at Hilton Indianapolis North; and Jan Chronic of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.


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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

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  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.