Friday, August 10, 2012

#MIN41 #foodie #epic

The place was packed for the annual Mass Innovation Nights foodie event at Trade Center 128 in Woburn on Wednesday night. Cummings Properties provided a great space and lots of support. Thanks, Cummings! Food really brings out the crowds.
The Foodie Crowd
Fourteen food-related businesses (plus the Experts Corner experts) had tables. That's a lot to see, taste, photograph, and talk about! It's hard to pick out the highlights, but here a some of my favorites.

Did you know that we use over 500 billion, yes that's billion, plastic shopping bags per year? I learned that from EarthHook's presentation. Reusable bags are key to solving that problem, but they take up space in the cart and get buried under all the stuff you're buying. Where can you put them so they're easy to access at checkout time and they're not taking up space in the cart? That's the problem EarthHook solves. They've created a nifty little attachment to the shopping cart where you can hang the reusable bags while you're shopping.  Very clever.

EarthHook -- Now that's a useful innovation!
There's even room for advertising on it. Roche Brothers, one of the evening's sponsors, clearly understands the advertising potential.

A Closer Look at the Earth Hook
Over in the Experts Corner (which wasn't really a corner) I met Scott Sanders, who describes himself as a "marketing guy for food and consumer goods companies, plus a chocolate syrup business owner."  That chocolate syrup business is an iconic brand that brings back all kinds of memories: Bosco. I think he was impressed with my rendition of the Bosco jingle. :-)

Experts Looking Expert --- With Bosco!
Chick peas are a wonderful food -- full of fiber and protein --  and Biena Foods' roasted chick peas are an amazingly tasty, crunchy snack.  I tasted the Lime and Chili and the Sea Salt varieties.  Both were excellent. I liked the Lime and Chili so much that I bought a bag to take home. Yum. 

Biena Foods
People were mingling, networking, exchanging business cards, and totally munching out too. All the best food was disappearing quickly. Food is fun to photograph too, and I've never seen so many people taking pictures at MIN with real cameras (as opposed to smart phones). Some of the cameras and even the tripods were making me drool.
Crowd Enjoying Delicious Appetizers

I loved having a chance to talk with the Foodies of New England folks, old friends of MIN. I told them to make sure to taste the T'art.
Foodies of New England
Bittersweet Cake Shop had an amazing selection of sweet and savory gluten-free treats. Everything I tried was delicious. I only wish I could have tried all of them :-)

Tasty, Colorful, and Gluten Free
I rarely drink soda. Coffee, tea, and water are my preferred beverages. However, I'm starting to develop a taste for Izze blackberry sparkling juice since I first tasted it at a previous Mass Innovation Night. I sampled it again at #MIN41 and even went back for a second sample.

Izze Soda
I gave up all hope of photographing every exhibitor before the presentations and just enjoyed as many interesting tastes as I could.

Portabella Mushroom Appetizer -- Delicious

I've often thought it would be great to have "dinner kits" with all the ingredients delivered so you don't have to do the shopping and the prep work, just cook it. That's exactly what Of Course does. They deliver  healthy, delicious, ready-to-make meals right to your door.

Of Course
I've never tasted a better cupcake than the mocha espresso cupcake from Pipe Dream Cupcakes. Nadine had the most inspiring entrepreneurial story too.  One thing that stuck with me from her presentation, besides how quickly the cupcakes disappeared at her first catering event,  was a quote from one of her mentors: "Opportunities aren't lost, they are simply taken by others."

Pipe Dream Cupcakes
After tasting three varieties of Root Cellar Pickles, I'm now craving the Zesty and Sweet ones. The Bread and Butter pickles and the Dill Chips were great too, but I am seriously jonesing for Zesty and Sweet. And Best Costume for #MIN41 goes to the Root Cellar Pickle Person.  A pickle green shirt identifying one as a pickle person is even better than the banana and strawberry costumes from #MIN29! Now, I've got to get some of those Zesty and Sweet pickles...

Root Cellar Pickle Person -- Great Pickles and Best Costume of #MIN41
Who says there's not a lot of innovation at the foodie event? One of the chefs came up with a device that injects the cocktail sauce into the shrimp. It's an innovative and cool-looking way to serve shrimp cocktail.

Shrimp Cocktail with Innovative Cocktail Sauce Delivery Mechanism
The little bite of tart from Armour Creations was so deliciously moist and buttery that I had to tell everybody I talked with to try it. T'ART in a bag is a prepared baking mix that makes sweet or savory tarts. It only takes 7 minutes to have the tart ready to go into the oven. Just add eggs, butter, and whatever your choice of tart filling may be, bake for 45 minutes, and enjoy an awesome treat.
Awesome Tart

I sampled the Autumn Blend wellness tea from ApotheCaring and it really hit the spot. Never mind the health benefits, this is just plain tasty herbal tea!

Oh, the other thing I learned from the presentations, besides the 500 billion plastic bags, was that the stump has the highest BTU value of any part of a tree. Stump Chunks had one of the most popular tables at the event and they weren't even serving food, just giving away bags of their unique fire starter. 

The crowd was full of both new people and MIN regulars, mixing and matching and enjoying themselves. A couple of the usual suspects, Jeff Cutler and Tim Stansky, posed with camera and shrimp cocktail respectively.

The Usual Suspects
And don't forget that October 24 is Food Day, a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy,
affordable, and sustainable food.