Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge seeks contestants

Last year’s Early Stage category grand prize winner was B. Happy Peanut Butter owned by the Weed Family of Zionsville. (Submitted photo)

Last year’s Early Stage category grand prize winner was B. Happy Peanut Butter owned by the Weed Family of Zionsville. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

If you have a creative food or beverage business concept, the Ivy Tech Community College and Reliable Water Services has just the contest for you.

The fifth Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge is a regional contest to find Indiana’s next great food or beverage entrepreneur.

It features a start-up category for those with new business idea, which hasn’t been on the market yet, and an early-stage category (five years or under) for those who have launched their business but are looking for support to reach the next level.

B. Happy Peanut Butter, owned by Zionsville residents Jon and Kathy Weed, won the 2015 early-stage category.

The application process for this year’s contest started April 4 and concludes May 15.

“We’re looking for foodies in any of the communities,” said Christel Henke, coordinator for the Entrepreneur Challenge.

The adult grand prize winner in each category receives $2,000 in seed money from Reliable to start their business, $1,000 scholarship from Ivy Tech Community College, $250 shopping spree from, a restaurant supply site, Two People’s Choice winners will receive $1,000 each from Shapiro’s Deli and an article in Edible Indy magazine.

Petality Beverages, owned by Andrea and her brother John Burkhardt from Fishers, were the start-up winners in 2014.

“In addition to seed money and other great prizes, the challenge offers a unique opportunity to gain advice from some of Indiana’s most successful and savvy food and beverage entrepreneurs and experts,” stated Chef Jeffrey Alan Bricker, hospitality department chair/associate professor at Ivy Tech.

Those interested should apply at Finalists will be selected in late May to participate in a final judging event June 22 at Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center, 2820 North Meridian St., Indianapolis.

“It’s kind of like a Food Network event, they have to bring all their stuff with them,” Henke said. “The audience will help choose the two People’s Choice winners.”

Jolene Ketzenberger, food writer and founder of, will serve as emcee.

Judges for the contest include: Carrie Abbott, owner, Newfangled Confections; Michael Joy, chef/director of product development, Park 100 Foods; Ian Kille, executive chef, MCL Restaurant & Bakery; Jennifer Rubenstein, publisher of Edible Indy; Brian Shapiro, owner, Shapiro’s Deli and Scott Wise, president & CEO, Scotty’s Brewhouse.


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