Aspiring food entrepreneurs have been given help to move their ideas forward through the Food Xcel program. Run by PEI Food Island Partnership, the program offered participants workshops and networking opportunities with food agencies, industry experts, and other entrepreneurs. The winner received $30,000 to help bring their product to market.
“PEI Food Island Partnership promotes and works with PEI start-ups and processing companies to help them grow,” says Bryan Ingils, CEO, Food Island Partnership.
The Food Xcel program began in November 2016 with 39 entrepreneurs learning about turning an idea into a business, how to stand out from the crowd, product development, pricing, costing, and getting their product to market. Seven entrepreneurs were selected for the final competition.
“Innovation PEI, the Food Island Partnership, ACOA and the rest of the funders are very committed to working with all the entrepreneurs who wish to progress further with growing their business,” says Bryan. “There is lots of help out there.”
For more about Food Island Partnership, visit www.foodislandpei.ca.
Food Xcel program winner and finalists:
Maroun's Garlic Paste
Ryan Abdallah is the owner of Cedar’s Eatery in Charlottetown. His product, named after his father, is a garlic paste which has been made in the restaurant for many years.
“When customers began to purchase it for home use, we realized there is nothing like it in the marketplace,” says Ryan. “People use it as a spread, in a marinade, and as a condiment which adds a rich, concentrated garlic flavour to foods.”
Ryan is set to launch his product at the end of May with 60 stores and major retailers. He plans to build the business with new hires at the restaurant and he also plans to hire people to market the product.
For more information, visit www.cedarseatery.ca.
Heart Beet Organics
Verena Varga and Amy Smith operate an organic vegetable farm in North Wiltshire. They also make kombucha, a naturally carbonated, fermented drink made from tea, sugar, and natural flavourings. The tea is from a local distributor – Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley – and most of the flavourings are produced on their organic farm.
They started selling their product at the Charlottetown Farmers Market in 2014. “Last year, we quadrupled production,” says Amy. “This year, we plan to expand production and offer it on tap at cafés, restaurants, and breweries across the Island,” says Verena.
For more information, visit www.heartbeetorganics.ca.
Spud Ventures Inc.
Marc Bastarache has created a grated potato product that is used as an ingredient in many traditional Acadian recipes. It is sold in the retail and food service industry.
“There is a market for it locally and across Canada,” says Marc. “Families come together over comfort foods, and that’s how cultures are shared.”
He is working with BIO|FOOD|TECH to get the product ready for market, and he wants to invest in larger processing and packaging equipment.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/spudventure.
Fresh Start Fauxmage
Fresh Start Fauxmage is a vegan, locally-made artisanal product made of cashews, almonds, and coconut milk. There are four different styles: Smoked Gouda style, Baked Almond Feta style, Monk’s Cheddar style, and Xtra Creamy Chevre style.
The products, made by Julain Molnar, are available at the Riverview Country Market six days a week, and at the Farmer’s Market. “Eventually, I would like to have my own kitchen and hire someone to help me with the business end and someone to help me make the fauxmage.”
For more information, email [email protected].
Isle Saint-Jean Farm & Cheese House
Gabriel Mercier and Deirdre Doiron produce sheep’s cheese and yogurt at Deirdre’s family farm in North Rustico. They purchased the sheep in the winter of 2015, and in the summer of 2016 made the first batches of cheese.
This year, they will offer four different products:
100 percent sheep’s milk yogurt, grilling cheese, cream cheese, and a washed rind cheese aged at least three months.
During the summer of 2017, their cheese and yogurt is for sale at the farm in North Rustico, the Charlottetown Cheese Co. at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, the Riverview Market, the Cardigan Market, and a few other locations.
The Handpie Company
Scapes is a restaurant in Gateway Village, Borden Carleton, that has been in operation since June 2014.
The team consists of Sarah Benetto O’Brien, a Red Seal Chef with an applied degree in culinary operations, and two other culinary-school trained chefs. The restaurant serves innovative meals made with local, organic ingredients.
“One of our products has stood out from the rest: our handpies,” says Sarah. Handpies are a variation of the Cornish pasty, which feature a filling wrapped in flaky pastry.
“People drive from all over PEI to buy our pies. In the summer, we can’t make enough pies to satisfy customer demand.”
For more information, visit www.scapespei.com.
Food Xcel is an initiative of Food Island Partnership in association with ACOA, PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, NSERC, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Innovation PEI, and Springboard. Contributing partners that helped fund the cash prize include BIO|FOOD|TECH, BIOENTERPRISE, EmerGence, Startup Zone, Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, SKU Marketing, and Insight Brand & Marketing Studio.