Students who take a Texas culinary arts program have a plethora of opportunities at their fingertips once they complete their studies. Austin is after all one of the most food-centric cities in the country, with its thriving food truck industry, multitude of farmers markets and dire love for barbecue. The city is also home to the University of Texas at Austin, which is home to the Food Lab, an initiative run by the school’s ecology and natural sciences students aimed at raising awareness of food issues and spurring change in the industry.
In March, the program announced that it would host the Food Lab Challenge, a competition open to students and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. All students must be enrolled at an accredited educational institution, which means those in an Austin culinary arts program at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts are eligible to participate. Registration for the contest begins June 1, 2014, and applications and business plans are due by September 30. A cast of judges will choose 20 finalist teams, which will be announced on November 1, and these groups will be paired up with mentors that will provide their expertise in the food industry.
Teams will have three months to fine-tune and fill out their business plans. They will present them on Challenge Prize Day, which is February 14, 2015. There will be winners in four different categories:
- Inputs and production
- Healthy eating and food education
- Processing, packaging and safety
- Storage and distribution
The winning teams will get a total of more than $30,000 in prizes – each takes home $5,000 and goes on to compete for the grand prize of $10,000. This is an ideal opportunity for students from Texas culinary arts courses interested in starting their own business after school. Not only is there the possibility that you could receive funding to get your food truck, culinary line or other plan off the ground and flying, but it allows you to learn from food industry professionals and entrepreneurs. Another great benefit is the opportunity to network with the panel of judges – more than 30 experts in the field who can become contacts in the future when you need guidance on your endeavors in the culinary world.