Current and aspiring culinary capitalists gained valuable insight on food safety, certification and business management during the Auburn University Food Systems Institute’s sixth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference in Auburn March 21-22. The institute is an Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.
The conference, co-hosted by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, was held at the CASIC Building at 559 Devall Drive in the Auburn Research Park and featured a lineup of speakers that includes Robert Armstrong, a Selma native who has taken his grandmother’s to-die-for cookie recipes into the marketplace.
Armstrong says it was important to share with the audience not only what worked well for him when starting his G. Momma’s Cookies but also what he would do differently if he had the chance.
“I hope I imparted that there really is no magic formula or secret to becoming successful in the food industry,” Armstrong said. “It all starts with the product and from there, it’s just a lot of hard work.”
Conference attendees also heard from certified executive chef John Syzmanski, who develops recipes and new programs for the Kroger Company; Opelika grocer Jimmy Wright; and others.
In addition to the speakers, the conference offered specialized breakout sessions covering the state’s Cottage Food Law certification program, the how-tos of starting a food truck, opportunities for minority-owned foodservice enterprises, the innovative aquaponics industry and food safety for caterers, bakeries, processors and meat producers.
The annual conference is focused on offering real-life advice for growing a food business and providing an opportunity for burgeoning entrepreneurs to make invaluable business connections. Conference attendance has grown steadily every year, with last year’s even drawing about 75 aspiring and current food entrepreneurs.
A full conference agenda and registration is available online (https://aufsi.auburn.edu/2018-food-entrepreneur-conference/). For more information, call Regina Crapps at 334-844-7456.