Our 3rd annual (wow!) Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge Indiana judging event is coming up next Wednesday (July 30th) at Ivy Tech Corporate College & Culinary Center in Indianapolis. We’re really excited to meet all our talented finalists in person and try all their delightful and delicious entries. Getting this far in the competition is surely a huge boost for each of our finalists, as they’ll have the opportunity to meet with fellow foodies and to receive some truly priceless feedback from industry leaders at the judging event.
This year we have two categories—Startup & Early Stage—so we have a grand total of 6 Indiana finalists! (There will be one winner in each category.) The winners will be selected based upon pre-determined criteria, including: flavor, appearance/presentation, creativity, and marketability.
Check out our preview of each finalist’s entry and their thoughts on how it feels to be a Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge finalist!
Indiana Startup Finalists
The Startup category contains entries that are brand new food concept ideas. Prizes include: $2,000 in seed money from Reliable Water Services, expert consultation and a scholarship from Ivy Tech Community College, $1,250 in kitchen design services from Zesco.com, and Navigator business plan and marketing plan software from ISBDC.
Eddie Williams • Vineyard Fishery Deli
Creole & Mediterranean cuisine/smoked meats
“My healthy cooking concepts were inspired by the book, What Would Jesus Eat?. Vineyard Fishery is a full service deli and wine bar. Our objective is to provide our clients with specialty smoked fish & smoked meats products. The health benefits are a protein & heart-healthy diet of Omega-3, which “reverses cholesterol.” Our primary smoked meat products are smoked with: hickory wood, mesquite, apple and cherry wood. We use farm-raised & wild-caught fresh fish and poultry products. We will purchase locally sold and locally farm fresh products, when available. Wine & Food Pairing is also another area we specialize in. We incorporate a fusion of Mediterranean with Creole food compositions along with Napa Valley wine concepts.”
John & Andrea Burkhardt • Petality
organic flower tisanes and organic flower sodas
“My sister and I co-founded Petality, the world’s only organic flower beverage company, to passionately lead the world in the complete, daily enjoyment of flowers. Flowers add unquantifiable and irreplaceable benefit to people’s lives, and their value extends far beyond appearance. The beautiful flavors, aromas, and health benefits of flowers have been celebrated throughout history and around the world. So, with a purist, vitality-oriented approach, we’re boldly yet gracefully showcasing the natural beauty of organic flowers in aromatically and flavorfully stunning “tisanes” for the health-conscious and in the world’s first Organic Palm Flower soda (based on nutritious and popular Coconut Palm Flower nectar). The results of Petality’s epic endeavor are beautiful, crave-able sensory and health experiences unlike anything available on the market—and they also meet every important criteria in what we call “Petality’s 20 Distinctives,” viewable on our website. Ultimately, we’re championing the cause of pollinators by driving demand for organic flowers which support pollinator populations currently on the decline as a result of pesticide use.”
Melissa Thornburgh • Indy’s Bikery
handmade baked goods delivered by bicycle
Indiana Early Stage Finalists
The Early Stage category consists of food product companies in business three years or less. Prizes include: $2,000 in seed money from Reliable Water Services, expert consultation and a scholarship from Ivy Tech Community College, $1,250 in kitchen design services from Zesco.com, and Navigator business plan and marketing plan software from ISBDC.
Ben Fogt • The Flatrock Flatbread Company
brick oven, wood-fired pizzas
Unique Neo‐Neapolitan pizzas made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and sold at public events, farmers markets, and as a private caterer. The challenge is in determining the best channels of distribution and deciding whether to open a brick and mortar restaurant.
“I am honored to be chosen as a finalist and I’m grateful to Reliable Water Services for the chance to show off what we’ve grow into over a couple years. I am proud to be bringing some of our fresh and bold flavors to Indianapolis all wrapped up in that food that in the end is just pizza. Our pizzas are often topped with modern combinations like Brussels sprouts and pancetta or chorizo and egg, even chocolate, raspberries, and marshmallows, but they are baked at a blistering temperature of 900° in our mobile oven that runs only on wood. We combine 21st century flavors with a cooking method honed for centuries and take it wherever people want to be fed.”
Lynne Driscoll • Greenfield Cookie Dough Company
take & bake cookie dough
“I am thrilled that my food business (Greenfield Cookie Dough Company) and story was selected as a finalist in the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge in the first year featuring the ‘early-stage’ startup category. We produce an all-natural take-n-bake cookie dough that has no preservatives, in artful and responsible packaging, and using the best ingredients around. This journey has been an evolution of my passion of creating all-natural recipes for busy households, leaning into my business experience and savvy then coupled with an intense sense of curiosity of just ‘where would this idea go’? I have been pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming positive support of my retailers and customers who love my product, my concept, and the convenience of what we bring to market. While my startup story is entertaining, my overall story is simple: Once upon a time there was a girl in the country who loved the smell of fresh baked cookies and wanted to share it with the world. And so she did. Devour responsibly.”
Matthew Kornmeyer • Scratchtruck Bacon Marmalade
a retail version of the food truck favorite
A sweet, smoky bacon marmalade that tops everything from burgers and meatloaf to scrambled eggs. The challenge is in building up to distribution to large retail stores (Kroger, Marsh, Fresh Market etc.) and eventually expanding the line with other items from the Scratchtruck food truck.
“It’s very cool to be chosen as a Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge finalist. I’m really looking forward to speaking with the judges and learning from their experiences in the industry. This should be a great learning experience, so I’m excited to meet them and gain more industry knowledge.”
We wish all of our talented finalists best wishes throughout the contest. While not everyone will win the grand prize, everyone can and will walk away with valuable industry knowledge they can apply to their food concept business right away.
Congratulations and best of luck to all of our Indiana Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge finalists. See you Wednesday!