Sunday, January 22, 2012

Three Local Food Projects

My students have finally articulated what they will work on for the rest of the quarter, and I'm loving each project. Their original task was "to enhance the Western NY food economy in the winter months." But as they dove deep into their research, they made some discoveries that required them to fine-tune their original goal. Now their goal is "to make local food more appealing to main-stream customers," and with that in mind they've got some pretty cool offerings..

Team 1, Top Chef Local
This team decided to host a series of events based on the popular television show Top Chef. They want to create experiences in which newbies to local food could learn about cooking it together. Top Chef is a contest in which three chefs are given only a few ingredients with which to make an elegant meal, a format plays well with local produce and will be even more challenging in the winter. We recently had a winter potluck and man were there a lot of potatoes on the table. So, yes, great challenge.

Team 2, Cracker Barrel Bodega
Wanting to bring local food to the heart of the city, this team took inspiration from Cracker Barrel. I'd never heard of this place before, but apparently it's one part restaurant and one part retail food store. The hook is that if you like something that you eat in the restaurant side, you may go next door and buy it to take home. Put that model into an urban corner store with a deli counter or something, stocked with dishes made from local ingredients, and BAM! I'm there.  

Team 3, Flash Frozen Packaged Food
Wanting to make local food easier to prepare than whole food, this team wants to lightly process and package the food and sell it frozen. Not only does this team include two packaging science students, but they've got an electrical engineer on board who says he can design a flash freezer, normally starting at 10k, for a fraction of the cost. Should be fun. I'm super excited about this one. Well, who am I kidding, I'm excited about them all.

Want to come to our final presentation? Pop me a comment and I'll let you know the deets.

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