PORTLAND - Is there a secret treasure hiding in your kitchen? Oregon State University's Food Innovation Center wants to know. From your granddad's homemade barbecue sauce to your own tofu concoctions, the Food Innovation Center is hosting the Portland Food Fight to bring the Northwest's best food ideas to market.
If you like PBS's Antiques Roadshow, you'll devour the Portland Food Fight.
Contestants with a dream of commercializing their food product should bring their prepared food item and a $10 entry fee to the Food Innovation Center, 1207 N.W. Naito Pkwy, on Thursday, Nov. 11. Doors will open at 8 a.m. and judging will begin at 10 a.m.
Items will be judged on criteria such as taste, aroma, appearance and market potential. The winner will be awarded a commercialization package worth $2,500 from the Food Innovation Center. This is a chance to develop that family recipe into a commercial enterprise, with experts to help refine the recipe, identify a market, design packaging, labels and much more.
"This is not an ordinary recipe competition," said Sarah Masoni, product development manager at the Food Innovation Center. "This is a chance to create a new product for retail markets and possibly a new career as our latest food entrepreneur."
The Food Innovation Center, a collaboration between OSU's Agricultural Experiment Station and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, has a track record for helping entrepreneurs turn dreams into reality.
Chef and restaurant owner Vitaly Paley came to the Food Innovation Center with an idea for a healthy organic nutrition bar. With help from the center's food scientists, package engineers and market researchers, the Portland chef launched Paley's Fruity Nut Evolution Bar - and three new flavors are coming soon.
You don't have to be a chef to be a food entrepreneur. Toy designer Lori Katz took her idea for tofu-based snacks to the Food Innovation Center, where they helped her develop Protons, a flavorful and healthy alternative to croutons and the centerpiece of her new company, Tofoods.
For years, entrepreneur Howard Rubin had friends tell him that his homemade lasagna was so good he should market it. A chance meeting with a specialist at the Food Innovation Center led to the development of Rubin's new commercial product, Oregon Lasagna.
"If you've been told, 'You could sell that,' here's your chance," said Rubin. "Take a risk and take advantage of this direct route to commercialization. Don't become a 'woulda, shoulda, coulda' kid."
The Portland Food Fight is just one of many activities at the Food Innovation Center to stimulate new markets for Northwest food products.
"The Food Innovation Center is a one-stop service provider for entrepreneurs, processors and distributors interested in advancing Northwest food products," Masoni said. "The Portland Food Fight is an opportunity for starting up new food products with a team of specialists who can supervise everything from marketing and packaging to business development."
For additional information about the Portland Food Fight or the Food Innovation Center, contact Sarah Masoni, (503) 872-6655, or check the website, http://fic.oregonstate.edu.