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Ten of the best Israeli food-related technology startups competed in FoodTech TLV, a pitch competition that was a part of “So French So Food,” the third annual French culinary week held in Israel. Twenty of the best French Chefs were invited to “guest-chef” at various restaurants across Israel, as well as give lectures and cooking masterclasses to the public. Naturally, a culinary week in Israel – the Startup Nation, also included a competition of food tech companies.
FoodTech took place in the Academic College of Tel Aviv – Yaffo, where the participating startups presented their products and solutions, ranging from innovative protein snacks, a natural energy drink, and superfood production device for home or business, to apps for social dining, ordering homemade meals and connecting restaurants with customers for last-minute sales. The event included two startups providing ecological solutions for offering purified drinking water to the public and increasing storage time of produce. The selection also included gadgets for measuring the level of sweetness in drinks and efficiency of one’s eating habits.
“It’s interesting how the local food scene in Israel has shifted from the traditional falafel into a unique level of culinary mix and creativity,” said one of the event organizers, Yossi Dan of Challengy, a French-Israeli consulting company bridging technology links between the two countries. “Combining the rise in culinary awareness with the Israeli aptitude for technology causes food tech to thrive here.”
“I was really blown away by some of the ideas,” said Keren Brown, a food-blogger and Chief Evangelist at Kitchenbug, who was on the FoodTech judge panel. “Since we all need to eat, in a technologically-driven society such as Israel, food-related startups gain a real momentum.”
Other judges on the panel included renowned Israeli chef, TV star and author Nir Zook, as well as well-known French Chocolate expert, Chef Patissier Chocolatier Le Grand Comptoir du Chocolat, Patrick Paumier, who came to Israel in search of new technologies.
“I am always interested in the new and innovative ways of cooking and enjoying food,” shared Chef Paumier. He taught a chocolate-making masterclass in Tel Aviv on the last day of the “So French So Good” week, before heading to Dubai to teach more masterclasses there.
One of the pitch contenders, EatWith, a global community of passionate chefs who create dinner parties around the communal table for both locals and travelers, is no stranger to tech pitch competitions. Just two months ago, EatWith won the ProSieben‘s startup pitch event in Tel Aviv, bagging a $4.9 million prize in advertising money. “We did launch in Paris, and we have some great French chefs represented on EatWith,” said Andrea Rosen, the company’s Global Development Manager. “I am hoping that this event will bring us even more exposure in France, especially as we still don’t have a local office there.”
Another startup cashing in on the new and widespread way of doing business known as “sharing economy” popularized by the now-global AirBnb and Uber, Yummi, has built a marketplace for home-based chefs. This idea was born, like so many other successful tech companies, from an entrepreneur’s unfulfilled personal need. “I was hungry,” explains Chen Lev-Ami, the Founder and CEO of Yummi. “I really wanted someone to cook for me. As this was not an option yet, Yummi was born.” Yummi is currently operating in Israel and is preparing for a pilot in Toronto this April aiming to eventually expand to other large cities in north America.
One of the curious gadgets presented at the event was a “sweetometer,” created by Valiber, a company with an ambitious vision to change the food and drink industry by providing an answer to “How sweet is sweet?”
“We enable people to share their sweetness preference with others. Valiber created a scale to standardize a measure of sweetness for use by chefs in restaurants, food producers, and even anyone at home following a recipe or trying to perfect a taste,” clarified Yuval Klein, the Founder and CEO of Valiber. The Valiber gadget will be available early next year.
The big winner of the night was Green Onyx, which created a device for home production of Khai Nam, a vegetable that thrives in wetlands of Thailand, Burma and Laos and is very high in nutritive value.
“Green Onyx has developed a way to produce a food, which is more nutritious than kale and similar greens considered the top benchmark for nutrition in a short time at the push of a button in your home,” described Keren Brown, one of the judges. “It also has a nice taste with a texture and appearance similar to caviar and has a vibrant green color. I’m sold.”
By Yael Tamar
Yael is a techie and a mom to a 2-year-old, a cat and a dog, who. Yael is an active member of the health and fitness community and a founder of a natural food supplements company, Pure Standard. She blogs on a variety of subjects from health to technology.