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Daily Crave

Foodie Event: Play critic at The Big Pitch

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A new generation of food entrepreneurs will be fed to the sharks this Saturday in hopes of being recognized as the next big addition to the Columbus food scene.

And by sharks, we mean the locals.

The Big Pitch—to be held June 21 and June 28 at Franklin University’s Ross Auditorium—is a new culinary contest from local nonprofit FoodStart that invites the public to taste and rate dishes and products from more than 30 up-and-coming restaurants, food trucks and food stands. Tickets are $20 for the June 21 event and $30 for both weekends. Single-day family passes are $50, or you can take the whole crew twice for $75.

At 11 a.m., guests will receive a rating card so they can keep track of their favorites as they hop from sample to sample. A week later, on June 28, three finalists will present their dishes and business plans to a panel of judges, which includes Rick Harrison Wolfe, executive director of the North Market, and Abed Alshahal, co-owner of The Crest.

The prize? First place wins up to $1,000 and a standby mentor for their first year of business. Second place gets $500 and six months of mentoring, and third place also lands a mentor for six months. The mentors will be volunteers from the event’s 19 sponsors, which include the North Market, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, the Columbus Food League and the Women's Business Center of Ohio.

The Big Pitch is the public debut for FoodStart, a new nonprofit organization founded by Bob Leighty (also the executive director of the Parsons Avenue Merchants Association) aimed at helping aspiring food entrepreneurs.