How’s this for synergy: the business school of the University of Maryland stages an event to showcase local food entrepreneurs, providing an opportunity for b-school students to plan and promote it for course credit, and rising businesses to show off what they’ve got? And, BTW, to let the public frolic among delicious food samplings for a small price? Sounds like a win-win-win. And it was.
The YUMpreneurship Showcase at the Universities at Shady Grove filled a very large room with rows of tables laden with food and drink. On registering, samplers were given a bingo card listing all the food participants. In theory, only one sample per business per person was to be given, to ensure that the most popular food didn’t evaporate while other samples were neglected. This principle was honored variously in the breach and in the observance.
But first, there were opening ceremonies. Professor Oliver Schlake welcomed the hungry crowd and described the Entrepreneurship Fellows Program. Then all the entrepreneurs present lined up to introduce themselves. One of them, Sophia Maroon, we knew from the Bethesda Green Incubator, another admirable institution for budding entrepreneurs.
I have found that the more unusual offerings at these events are often more rewarding than the commoner ones. Avoiding the long lines at the hot dog stand, I made a beeline for the Korean bowls of Mashi Market (our friends from the Olney Farmers Market), and went on to try the wares at Jimmy’s Seafood and Java Cove. All delicious.
Protein needs fulfilled, I went on to the sweets and drinks. There were many cupcake outlets; that fad has yet to run its course! A welcome trend of new local breweries and distilleries was represented by Dragon Distillery, of Frederick. But alas, no samples; this was a dry event.
One neat, and possibly unique, thing about Dragon: they make soap from their left-over flavorings.
The food products ranged from probiotics to decadent, sugary treats. Gnarley Drinks produces a delicious, hibiscus-based tipple. Hacienda Tres Angeles imports excellent coffee from their own estate in Puerto Rico. Milk Cult was dishing up ice cream in exotic flavors of pistachio and Chinese five spice. Patisserie Manuel had a bingo-card Nazi, so I was limited to only one sample of macaron among their several sweets (cruel!), but they did have a very photogenic cake on display.
The room filled up with ravenous (mostly) students. It wasn’t long before the food started to be depleted. Even so, we were sufficed. We left the stacks of pizza boxes, provided just in case anyone was still hungry after sampling the wares of fifty exhibitors, to the younger generations.
The proceeds from the event were donated to the Manna Food Center, an organization dedicated to ending hunger in Montgomery County through food redistribution. I hope the students and entrepreneurs profited as much as those who came to eat and drink! I know I’ll look forward to next year’s event.