“The Big Tasty” contest presents food entrepreneurs a fast track to market

Got an idea for a new food product or service? Blue Ridge Food Ventures is looking for you.

Whether it’s a newfangled flavor for a timeless classic or an inventive new concoction altogether, the next big food product is just waiting to be discovered. That’s the aim of “The Big Tasty,” a new contest organized by agribusiness incubator Blue Ridge Food Ventures: offering food entrepreneurs a chance to bring an innovative new product or service out of the kitchen and onto the market.

The grand prize winner receives a $2,500 cash award and 100 free hours at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, which includes use of the commercial kitchen space and equipment and mentoring from food business pros. Two runners-up receive $1,000 each and 50 business incubator hours. All winners receive a free Foundations of Business Planning course from co-sponsor Mountain BizWorks. The competition is made possible with funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund.

With an entry deadline of Oct. 15, “The Big Tasty” is open to any North Carolina resident with a big idea for a new food product or service, excluding packaged meat or dairy, low-acid products or products containing more than .5 percent alcohol. Contestants pay a $10 entry fee and submit an application package that explains, illustrates and introduces the new product or service. Big Tasty semi-finalists will be selected by Nov. 1 and will receive on-on-one coaching in early 2013 from food business experts to refine their idea. Winners will be announced in the spring.

For an entry form, contest details and more on The Big Tasty, visit www.blueridgefoodventures.org. Blue Ridge Food Ventures has helped well over 220 food business entrepreneurs launch their products since it was started in 2005 by AdvantageWest.