Aura’s Chocolate Bar Wins Food and Drink Biz Pitch Competition at Hope and Main
Aura Fajardo Quintero is Rhode Island's first champion in the Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Competition.
It was like “Shark Tank” but for food-and-drink-focused local businesses. On Tuesday evening, five local food and beverage producers presented their business pitches to judges for a live broadcast at Hope and Main in Warren. They competed for the honor of being declared Rhode Island’s first champion in the Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Competition as part of Rhode Island Start Up Week 2021.
The competition was broadcast live through Vimeo (link here) on Tuesday, October 19. Participating local businesses included Amber Jackson of the Black Leaf Tea and Culture Shop; Carissa Wills-DeMello of Town Farm Tonics; Debbie Wood from We Be Jammin’; Sam Chesebrough, founder of Pickily; and Aura Fajardo from Aura’s Chocolate Bar.
After all the contestants made their business pitches to the judges, viewers voted through text for their favorite food and beverage entrepreneur. Those votes were combined with the judges’ choice to select the winner. The top finisher was pastry chef Aura Fajardo Quintero of Aura’s Chocolate Bar, and she received an $8,000 grant from Sam Adams to dedicate to the purchase of more equipment for her artisan chocolate business, as well as a full year of personalized coaching and mentoring from the experts at Sam Adams and SheChef. Born in Venezuela, Fajardo Quintero has been working in the art of chocolate production since 2013. Her craft chocolate business offers consumers an opportunity to taste a piece of her homeland in her chocolates that blend Venezuelan-sourced cacao with local ingredients from New England for chocolate bars, pops and more.
All four of the runners up also received $1,000 each to put back into their local businesses.
Judges included Doris De Los Santos, executive director of the Center for Women and Enterprise in Rhode Island; chef TJ Delle Donne, assistant dean of the College of Food, Innovation and Technology at Johnson and Wales University; Jennifer Glanville, brewery manager and director of partnerships for Sam Adams Boston Brewery; Gail Ciampa, food editor of the Providence Journal; and a representative from sponsor Centerville Bank. The emcees of the competition were Hope and Main’s founder Lisa Raiola; Tony Fonseca, owner of Packaging and More, and board member of Hope and Main, the Rhode Island Hospitality Association and RI Food Dealers Association; and Rhode Island Monthly senior editor Jamie Coelho.
Hope and Main was the perfect place to host the local food biz competition and live broadcast. “It is a little bit like ‘Shark Tank’ meets ‘Chopped’ in Rhode Island,” says Hope and Main founder Lisa Raiola. “It was such a great opportunity for exposure for food-
preneurs throughout the Ocean State. The event brought high visibility to Rhode Island’s vibrant, growing and diverse food economy powered by small businesses.”
Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream supports local food and beverage entrepreneurs across the United States with access to capital, networks and business coaching.