Phoenix chef Justin Beckett has announced the top six finalists of the inaugural Feed Your Dreams contest.
The chef, owner of Arcadia restaurant Beckett’s Table, partnered with the Arizona Science Center for the competition, which will award up to $27,000 worth of cash and prizes to the person or group with the most innovative idea combining food and science.
“I’ve been given so many blessings and chances from people who have been in the industry longer than me,” Beckett said. “Without those opportunities, there’s no possible way I’d be where I am today. If I can be a little bit of that and make a change in someone’s life, that would be ridiculously cool.”
The contest includes three awards: a grand prize, an innovation award and a people’s choice.
The public can vote for the people’s choice winner on facebook.com/BeckettsTable. That winner will get $2,000.
A panel of judges, including the owners of Beckett’s Table and science-center staff, will choose the grand-prize winner, which will be announced at a five-course dinner catered by the restaurant at the science center Aug. 20. Tickets will go on sale Friday, Aug. 3.
The grand prize includes $10,000 cash and a marketing campaign with UP Agency valued at $10,000.
Those attending the awards ceremony will vote on the winner of the $5,000 Innovation Ovation award.
The six finalists are:
Stone Hoe Gardens:
Bruce Leadbetter entered his idea for a food-growing process. He grows produce out of nylon socks filled with coco-peat and earthworms at his organic farm in Phoenix. The worms eat a paste Leadbetter makes by blending food waste from restaurants, stores and commercial kitchens with water for a nutrient-rich soil.
“The Miracle Berry Cookbook”:
Charles Lee of Chandler created a cookbook with recipes showcasing the miracle berry (Synsepalum dulcificum), a fruit that changes sour and bitter flavors such as lemons and limes to make them taste incredibly sweet.
V Gen Powerplant:
Christoph Kaiser of Phoenix developed an affordable biodiesel processor and generator that converts cooking grease to electricity. The generator’s simple design is tailored for narrow spaces, such as the side of a building.
Sub-irrigated Planter Systems:
Cade Stripplehoff of Phoenix entered his idea for growing food. His technology allows the planters to refill water as plants consume it, which will minimize the amount of water wasted. The system will all but do away with the need to weed gardens.
John Bogart of Phoenix developed a self-sustaining hydroponic tilapia farm and vegetable garden at his home in Phoenix. The fish live in a recirculating tank system; their waste is used to fertilize a vegetable garden. The vegetables provide the filter system and food to support the fish.
Jason Raducha of Phoenix wants to build and drive a mobile bread oven – think food truck meets bakery. His wood-fired oven will be made from 5,000 pounds of fire brick and refractory cement and mounted to a dual-axle trailer. Using the heating curve of the burning wood, Raducha will be able to bake several kinds of bread at a time. Raducha’s goal is to bring his breads to Valley farmers markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) projects.