Let the chopping and sauteing begin.

Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus in Richland is playing host to its first-ever “pitch” competition, for people in the region who have ideas about new or emerging food and agricultural businesses.

The competition sponsored by Chatham’s Center for Regional Agriculture, Food and Transformation, or CRAFT, will be held from 8 am to 1 pm on April 2 in the Esther Barazzone Center.

“Local food businesses are at the center of what we do at CRAFT, as they contribute to our local food system and make our region more vibrant and sustainable,” said Nicolette Spudic, manager of Chatham’s Food Innovation Lab. “So we want to encourage new entrepreneurship in the food industry however we can.”

Spudic said the university stresses the importance of promoting sustainability in food production.

“When we look inward and focus on the regional food economy, we see that we are not only getting high-quality food, we are putting money back into the pockets of our neighbors,” she said.

The competition is open to any business in the food industry, including consumer packaged goods, restaurants, food trucks, farms, breweries, wineries, distilleries, bakeries and coffee shops.

Participants were required to submit a 1-minute pitch video by Feb. 28 that was reviewed by judges to determine if they move onto the April 2 competition. Round 1 winners were notified by March 4.

On the day of the competition, finalists will submit a 5-minute pitch presented before a panel of judges who will ask questions about the project.

A $ 300 cash prize will be awarded to the 1st Place winner in each category and a $ 150 prize will go to the second-place finishers.

Winners also will receive a one-year membership to Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship valued at $ 175; and a 30-hour consultation with the Innovation Lab valued at $ 2,000.

Spudic said learning how to “pitch” or sell ideas and concepts can play dividends for entrepreneurs.

“The skill of pitching is something that really needs to be practiced,” she said. “It’s something an entrepreneur will have do when applying for a loan, trying to get a product in a store or even if they want to rent a space for their business. And, of course, you’ll have to pitch your product or services to customers. “

In addition to Chatham’s food study programs and the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment, the university shares its knowledge with the community through a wide range of programs.

From February through April, CARE has been offering workshops on cooking, baking, butchering and fermenting techniques taught by experts.

On March 12 there was a workshop titled “Kraut, Kimchi, and Lacto-Fermented Vegetables.” A virtual workshop on March 13 focused on making Irish soda bread.

“The Pittsburgh region is home to such a wide variety of food preparation and processing techniques,” said program manager Cassandra Malis. “CRAFT is honored to provide these opportunities for local food experts to share their knowledge and expertise with those who are excited to learn how to expand their at-home culinary skills.”

Spudic said the workshops are designed for “anybody who wants to learn more about food.”

She said among the most popular programs is a class on butchering.

“We’ve had a number of farmers in the workshop who wanted to learn those skills because there has been a reduction in the number of people doing it and they want to be able to provide that service,” Spudic said.

The program also is popular among hunters seeking to learn how to dress what they harvest.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, tlarussa@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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