What does it take to come up with the next food trend? A product like energy bars, microwaveable meals or yogurt cups, which takes the food world by storm and can be found on shelves everywhere?
At a Shark Tank-style culinary challenge held at South Forsyth High School on Tuesday afternoon, four local high school students pitted their ideas for the chance to have it turned into a real product by local professionals.
"When we moved to Forsyth County, I started learning more about the county and the school district, and then learned about the culinary program and how phenomenal it is here … I was like, 'Wouldn’t it be cool to do a challenge to maybe find the next Halo ice cream story or Cliff Bar story,'" said Dan Popovic, a local "serial" entrepreneur and the organizer of the culinary challenge.
According to Popovic, the idea for the challenge was to take students from the school system’s different culinary arts programs and challenge them to really make something new and different.
By using the different areas of expertise of Chef Christophe Le Metayer and entrepreneur Cyclone Covey, of the metro Atlanta food delivery service Christophe’s, Popovic said they knew they could help students develop their ideas, judge the products they created and help one student take their idea to the next level.
"We want to be able to take somebody's idea and commercialize it, that would be incredible," Popovic said before the event on Tuesday. "Who wouldn't want to get involved in the next big food idea?"
A handful of teams submitted videos explaining their food product idea. From those submissions, three teams were invited back to the final judging – two from South Forsyth and one from Denmark High School.
During the challenge, each of the teams gave a short presentation to the crowd, outlining how and why their product was created, while providing samples for the judges to taste-test.
Team one from Denmark brought the judges a gluten-free, vegan Acai granola bar, inspired by the growing trend of Acai berry bowls.
Team two from South Forsyth brought the judges a "Power Shot" — a "two-bite" energy ball designed to help athletes to fuel up before a game or recover from workouts and practices.
Team three, also from South Forsyth, brought the judges a quinoa egg cup, a self-contained breakfast on the go made with eggs, vegetables, protein and cheese.
After the presentations and a brief deliberation, Le Metayer and Covey rendered their verdict that Charlotte Bythewood and her Power Shots the winner.
"I have to say that we were really highly impressed with the quality of the three submissions,” Covey said to the three teams. “I was kind of expecting that someone would go more lollipop, sugar bomb, something like that and no one went that way, which we're actually very happy with, because we think it's easier to sell more nutritious products."
Covey said that due to the quality of the submissions it was hard to make a choice, Bythewood won because in addition to Power Shots being a unique idea, the student’s business plan was well thought out and viable.
After the announcement that she has been selected as the winner, Bythewood said that she was overwhelmed to have been given such a big opportunity.
"I'm feeling very excited, very accomplished. I had a lot of good competition really, but this whole process was really beneficial for me,” she said. “I learned a lot more about the process of creating a product, marketing, really thinking about all the details that go into selling a product, and I'm very excited about the outcome.”
Bythewood plans to attend school at Georgia Southern University and hopes to market Power Shots to sports teams and athletic programs.
To help her achieve that goal, Popovic said that Bythewood will now have access to the commercial kitchen used by Christophe’s and together they will help her fully commercialize Power Shots.
“We're going to work with her to get it ready and get it to market," he said. "As entrepreneurs, that's what we love doing."