Food product development contest winners announced by CIFT

Northwest Ohio is rich with signature products developed locally, and some even enjoy being recognized regionally and nationally. The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) sponsored the fourth annual Food Product Development Contest, which showcases many new local products ready to take that next step – actual product development.

Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada, and CIFT President and CEO David Beck, announced today at the CIFT office three winners selected in recognition of their product concepts:

• White Balsamic Dressing by Moussa Salloukh (Toledo, Ohio) – A sweet, light, yet crisp white balsamic dressing with a unique taste that covers and holds to lettuce without overbearing the salad. Created in the relaxed atmosphere of the Toledo, Ohio-based restaurant, La Scola Italian Grill, the dressing also serves as an excellent marinade on poultry and pork.

• Barista Bites by Darlene White (Grand Rapids, Ohio) – This scone and biscotti crossover has the softness of a scone on the inside with the shape and firmness of biscotti on the outside. They come in four delightful flavors: lemon poppy seed, orange cranberry walnut, double chocolate, and butter pecan – each with a delicious drizzle finish on top. These delicious bites perfectly accompany any coffee or cappuccino drink.

• Sweet and Spicy Thai Marinade by Jules Wilkins (Toledo, Ohio) – A rich, robust, and versatile marinade based on the Asian/Thai flavors of ginger, cilantro, toasted sesame oil, and sweet and spicy chili peppers. The “sweet” portion builds into a delectable heat and brings a distinctive flavor to any meat or could even compliment as a salad dressing.

Following a review of written applications and presentations by food entrepreneurs and chefs to a panel of judges, the highest scoring concepts were selected based on the viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, and overall appeal to the marketplace.

As a result of the award, direct consultation and technical assistance from CIFT will be provided to the start up businesses ranging from business planning, product/process development, shelf stability testing, labeling review, regulatory assistance, and batch product preparations for sampling.

Later, production will begin at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK), a nonprofit commercial facility that educates and advises new and growing businesses, and provides access to a commercially-licensed kitchen. Currently more than 20 businesses make their products at the NOCK. Entrepreneurs interested in learning more may contact Paula Ray, small business coordinator, CIFT, at 419-535-6000, ext. 117 or pray@ciftinnovation.org.

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