Food Starter and Niagara College offer unique mentoring expertise to budding food entrepreneurs

From left: Craig Youdale, dean of NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute; Dana McCauley, executive director, Food Starter; Jeffrey Steen, industry engagement and corporate training manager, NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute; and Gary Torraville, associate dean, NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute.

Generations of your family have relished Great Aunt Gertha’s seasoned gherkins, but would jars of the delicious homemade pickles fly off the local grocery store shelf?

Food Starter and Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute specialists may help you come up with the answer. The two have combined culinary skills and business marketing expertise to offer Food Business Feasibility workshops to budding entrepreneurs.

The intensive week-long workshops will help business hopefuls bring to life their ideas for food-based enterprises. Focusing on saleability, targeting customers, goal-setting and financial strategies, Food Starter – Canada’s trailblazing food business incubator and accelerator – and Niagara College – a leading college in pre-emptive, experiential learning – will offer expertise and marketing savvy to workshop participants.

“Food Starter can increase an entrepreneur’s chances of success in commercializing a food product because we offer all of the resources needed to go from concept to shelf,” said Food Starter executive director Dana McCauley. “We help entrepreneurs – from those right out of the gate with a great idea, to those who are concentrating on growing their business.”

Food Starter is a partner with the CFWI’s Expert Edge program, which offers the public expertise and knowledge in the fields of food, wine and beer, through its world-class staff of specialists.

“Expert Edge provides programming specially designed to support professional development and industry,” said CFWI dean Craig Youdale. “With Food Starter, we can contribute expertise for intensive, specialized sessions for those who want to take an idea to the next level and beyond.”

The partnership is focused on the long-term goal of creating opportunities within the job market.

Focusing on academic training, NC’s Expert Edge and Food Starter will work together to deliver specific courses to their client base – the College’s culinary innovation students as well as Food Starter business clients – to develop workshop programs and deliver the expert sessions. The partnership can also connect clients with the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre, which offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes in the food and beverage sector.

“Entrepreneurial skills are valuable in new graduates and business people regardless of whether they are going to run their own businesses or work for others,” said McCauley. “Our partnership will help participants find jobs and test and launch their own business ideas.”

The premiere session will be held August 21-25 at the Aurora Public Library. Other courses are being scheduled and will be announced soon.

The Canadian Food and Wine Institute, located on Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, is the College’s centre for food wine and beer education. In addition to Benchmark Restaurant, it features on-campus learning enterprises including the NC Teaching Winery – Canada’s first and only commercial teaching winery – and the NC Teaching Brewery – also the first of its kind in Canada. The CFWI is also home to CFWI Innovation Centre, which offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes in the food and beverage sector. Visit

Food Starter is Canada’s trailblazing food business incubator and accelerator. Offering 20,000 sq.ft of small scale food production space as well as the training, mentorship and consulting that growing businesses need to develop and commercialize food business ideas, Food Starter is located at Keele and Lawrence in Toronto. Food Starter is ideal for entrepreneurs, early stage food businesses as well as growing companies who want to innovate and get to market quickly and successfully. Visit

Currently celebrating its 50th year as a College of Applied Arts and Technology, NC is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario. A regional college with global reach, NC offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs. Visit




Media inquiries, please contact:


Susan McConnell

Media advisor

Office: 905-641-2252 x 4330

Cell: 905-933-6259


Julie Greco

Communications specialist

Office: 905-735-2211 x 7368

Cell: 905-328-2532