The recent fifth installment of the Food Entrepreneur Conference was historic, as more than 74 aspiring and current food entrepreneurs attended the event to learn more about opening or growing their own food business. That’s the largest crowd to attend the conference, which is held in Auburn every spring and coordinated by AUFSI and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Attendees were treated to an interesting lineup of current successful entrepreneurs who offered “real life” advice for starting a food business, including keynote speakers Tiffany Denson, owner of T’Lish Foods — a line of dressings and marinades — and Trey Sims, co-founder of the nationally popular Wickles Pickles. Past guest entrepreneurs also include Patricia “Sister Schubert” Barnes; Stacy Brown of Chicken Salad Chick, an Auburn-based restaurant that now has locations throughout the Southeast; and Chuck Caraway of Southeastern Food Group, one of Alabama’s largest food processing companies. Other food industry experts discussed important business topics such as food safety regulations, product labeling, financing, and marketing. Participants also attended their choice of two out of six available breakout sessions on topics such as Cottage Food Law certification, catering/food service/bakery; USDA meat products; and the innovative aquaponics industry.