Accelerating Southern Food & Beverage Entrepreneurs: Second Annual Entrepreneurs Program at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Program & Awards Spotlight Southern Food & Drink Businesses, Presented by Craft Catalyst

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - May 23, 2016) -  Craft Catalyst, LLC, an Atlanta-based brand accelerator that works with early-stage food and beverage companies, will join forces with the upcoming Atlanta Food & Wine Festival to host the second annual Entrepreneurs Program focused on Innovation, Brand-Building, Scalability and Value Creation.

The annual event, which was conceived by Craft Catalyst's founders, Chris Olivier and Steef Schelke, offers participants the opportunity to learn from industry leaders and entrepreneurs who will illustrate a spectrum of recurring themes including resiliency, persistency, focus and of course passion!

The idea for the Entrepreneurs Program came from Craft Catalyst's own participation in the Festival, noticing the attention the Festival brings to small businesses could be overwhelming for some. "Putting the spotlight on an emerging business at an event like the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is a double-edge sword. On one hand, the exposure and positioning is great, but some businesses aren't ready for all the attention and need critical guidance above and beyond just leveraging the buzz of the Festival," said Olivier.

Working with the Atlanta Food & Wine team, Olivier and Schelke developed a half-day program to give small businesses participating in the Festival, as well as other food and beverage industry professionals interested in attending, the chance to take in an afternoon of informative panel discussions and networking opportunities. The program, which was met with rave reviews from attendees last year, includes a keynote luncheon, a series of learning sessions and a closing reception.


Matti Anttila, Grain & Barrel   Ransom James, Eagle Merchant Partners
Marianne Barnes, Castle & Key   Katie Kittredge, Kittredge Advisory Partners
Alisa Barry, Bella Cucina   John Lynch, WTRMLN Beverage Co.
Scott Blackwell, High Wire Distilling   Kubeshini Moodley, Whole Foods Market
Joe Driscoll, Kill Cliff   Andy Oliver, Braswell's Food Co.
Robert Gamble, Fenwick Brands   Michael Ripps, Jittery Joe's
Bebe Goodrich, Icebox Coffee   Anna Russ, Anna Apotheca
Allyson Holt, Home Shopping Network   Keith Schroeder, High Road Craft

This year, Craft Catalyst and the Festival were delighted to add Southern Living to the program with the creation of the Southern Food & Drink Entrepreneurs Award. Southern Food & Drink Entrepreneurs Award was designed in collaboration with the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and Craft Catalyst, to celebrate and honor outstanding and emerging entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space. Six finalists have been invited to Atlanta Food & Wine Festival to present their products to an esteemed panel of judges and to consumers in the Festival's Tasting Tents. Three entrepreneurs will be selected as winners and featured on Southern Living's website and in the magazine.

Bulls Bay Saltworks (McClellanville, SC) - Rustin & Teresa Goodin
Cannonborough Beverage Company (Charleston, SC) - Matthew Fendley, Mick Matricciano, Brandon Wogamon
Delta Blues Rice (Ruleville, MS) - David Arant, Jr.
Service Brewing Co. (Savannah, GA) - Kevin Ryan
Slingshot Coffee Co. (Raleigh, NC) - Jenny Bonchak
Soberdough (Nashville, TN) - Jordan Mychal & Veronica Hawbak

Sid Evans, Southern Living
Maggie Largente, Whole Foods Market SE
Dominique Love, IWSC Group North America
Roy Milner, Blackberry Farm
Matthew Mitchell, Coca Cola/VEB
Brooks Reitz, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.

"Small businesses and artisans are an important part of the fabric of the Southern food and beverage industry. Through the Festival, we are committed to building a large platform for these brands to shine, which ultimately makes our region's food and drink traditions shine," said Dominique Love, AF&WF Co-Founder. "Craft Catalyst and Southern Living further our work by offering these entrepreneurs access to great minds and a pause from their daily grind to learn."

The Entrepreneurs program will take place Thursday, June 2, 2016 from 12pm - 6pm at the Loews Atlanta Hotel, the Official Host Hotel of the Festival. Tickets are $100 and available at Tickets are free to AF&WF exhibitors and sponsors.

Founded by entrepreneurs with proven operating track records, Craft Catalyst, LLC is an Atlanta-based boutique food & beverage brand accelerator working with emerging brands to help manage growth, avoid pitfalls and enhance shareholder value. The company provides a comprehensive platform of resources, mentors, capabilities and community to early-stage food & beverage businesses seeking to scale. Go to for more information.

Launched in 2010, by Atlanta entrepreneurs Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is a four-day culinary experience celebrating the South. With an Advisory Council of more than 80 award-winning talent from 13 Southern states and the District of Columbia, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival offers carefully-crafted programs and events to entertain and educate consumers about the rich food and beverage traditions of the region. The Festival also celebrates the flavors of other Southern regions around the globe including Southern Europe, South Africa, South America, Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand) and South-of-the-Border for Mexico. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival returns to Midtown Atlanta Thursday, June 2 - Sunday, June 5, 2016. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Follow Atlanta Food & Wine Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. #AFWF16 #KnowTheSouth

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Media Contacts:
Tara Murphy & Katherine Johnson
360 Media, Inc.