A curry-flavoured granola bar was the grand prize winner in this year’s Mission ImPULSEible post-secondary student food development competition.
“This was actually our backup plan,” said Andrea Dacko, a member of the winning team. “Our first plan didn’t work out. I guess it’s a good thing. We wanted to go back to the basics, while taking it to the next level. We wanted to make a unique-flavoured granola bar, and this is what came of it.”
The ‘Curry in a Hurry’ granola bars were developed by Dacko, Aleksandra Tymczak, Philip Elson, and Jeffery Duong, four students in the University of Alberta’s Food Science and Nutrition program. The students will be graduating soon, and all are looking for jobs, added Dacko.
This year, three teams competed to make a product that contains pulses as a key ingredient, fits the criteria of the Global Pulse brand, and appeals to millennials.
Each team presented to the judges and audience in a “Dragons’ Den”-style event. First prize was $1,000 with prizes of $750 and $500 for the first and second runners-up. The Alberta champs’ granola bar will now compete for national honours, but team members are also hoping to work with the Leduc Food Processing Development Centre to commercialize their project.
“Our bar is actually very versatile,” said Duong, another team member. The ‘Curry in a Hurry’ bar could appeal to students, entrepreneurs, and athletes, and is designed to appeal to millennials looking for a taste experience, as well as members of Canada’s ethnic population. The product contains roasted green lentils, roasted chickpeas, and roasted red lentils, as well as a sweet and savoury combination of mango, coconut, and peanut butter with a curry spice.
Second prize went to PeaCo pudding, a layered pudding product that contained strawberry jam, a chickpea and coconut milk pudding, red bean paste, and lemon flavour. The product was developed by Yun Yan, Xuejuan Ding and Beiyi Shen, who are also studying in the University of Alberta’s Food and Nutritional Science program.
Third prize was awarded to Lacey Patenaude and Crandell Houle, students from Portage College’s Culinary Arts program, for Cula Crunch. It’s a cereal made from a blend of red, black and green lentils, along with honey-roasted chickpeas.
In addition to developing the food, students also had to submit nutritional information and a marketing plan to a team of judges. This year’s judges included Teresa Spinelli, president of The Italian Centre local grocery shop, Wanda Aubee, director of programs of the Leduc Food Processing Centre, and Jennifer Livingstone, a registered dietitian and instructor in NAIT’s culinary arts and food studies program.
The competition, held in a ballroom in the Fantasyland Hotel, was attended by members of the pulse industry, Alberta Pulse Growers board members and advisers, and local community members.
“The projects were done mostly on their own time,” said Deb McLennan, food and nutrition co-ordinator with the Alberta Pulse Growers and the master of ceremonies of the event.
“If you figure out the amount of time that they’re in school, they’re working, they’re doing everything, and now they’re creating something for the program. I’m very appreciative of the work you guys put into this,” she told the students.
Alberta Pulse Growers, Pulse Canada, and the Leduc Food Processing Development Centre sponsored the event.