30 Under 30 2020: Introducing Food And Drink’s Rising Stars

Over the course of ten months, about 1,000 nominations poured in from a public online portal, 30 Under 30 alumni and our own industry sources. We vetted trailing financials and discussed velocity with independent investors. We ate mouth-numbing dry hot pot in New York’s East Village, tasted orange corn grits in Indianapolis and visited a natural winery in the hills of Santa Clara.

From there, we narrowed it down to 97 semifinalists. And then we asked for samples—all in anticipation of one particularly long day of judging, captured in the above video. We made it this year to show you what our judging process is really like—and look forward to your feedback.

When the special day came this year, bagels and babka were hand-delivered from Washington, D.C., while a bowl of tomato-egg noodles was delivered by foot. Over four hours at Forbes on Fifth, we reported our findings to four expert judges: Milk Bar CEO and Founder Christina Tosi; Banza cofounder Brian Rudolph, who is a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 alum; New York City and South Beach Wine & Food Festivals founder and veteran Under 30 judge Lee Schrager; and Forbes Media Chief Content Officer Randall Lane. 

As we passed out frozen plant-based popsicles shaped like geodes, cans of hatch chilis and a jar of turmeric-based face mask, we continued to ask: How did this business start? And what—or who—is sustaining it today? For many of these entrepreneurs, the bootstrapping deployed remains as impressive as ever.

Members of this year’s list of 30 entrepreneurs are poised to become the new guard of the food world. Take British Columbia native Tara Bosch, who turned a kitchen experiment into a candy brand with more than $55 million in revenue. She bought a gummy bear mold and tested recipes, using sweet plant fibers to replace sugary corn syrup. She sold the gummies from her car and cold-emailed Canadian retailers, eventually breaking into grocers. Today, her lines of no-sugar candy sell in more than 18,000 stores in North America.

Bosch is leading the pack of entrepreneurs chasing the no-sugar trend, which has claimed spots for close to half of the 2020 30 Under 30 food-and-drink class. There’s Mush CEO Ashley Thompson, whose overnight oats are now sold in more than 3,000 stores nationwide, and two desserts inspired by ill parents, the Spencer brothers’ Keto Pint and Sterling Jones’ Jojo’s chocolate bars. 

Elsewhere on the 2020 food and drink 30 Under 30 class are the founders of two rival prepared-meal delivery services: 28-year-old Laureen Asseo, whose organic Fresh N’ Lean is on track to do $30 million in sales this year, and 29-year-old Kayla Giovinazzo, who started New Jersey-based Eat Clean Bro with her husband in 2013 and has seen it grow into Asseo’s $9 million rival. There’s also James Beard Rising Star award-winner Camille Cogswell, who just opened Israeli bakery & all-day cafe K’Far after four years as pastry chef at Philadelphia’s buzzy Israeli restaurant Zahav. Founders from two different Chinese restaurant groups share their dedication to changing Americans’ limited perspective on what the cuisine can be: Junzi Kitchen’s chef Lucas Sin as well as the cofounders of MáLà Project, Ning (Amelie) Kang, Meng Ai and Yishu He. 

One CBD entrant, cofounder and co-CEO of Plant People Gabe Kennedy, makes the list, while three join from alcohol companies, still the more competitive industry to crack. There’s hard kombucha startup JuneShine and its cofounders Greg Serrao and Forrest Dein, Massachusetts-based craft brewers Andrew (AC) Jones and Cayla Marvil from Lamplighter Brewing, and Nico Enriquez, who launched Willie’s Superbrew, a hard seltzer flavored with fresh fruit juice, in 2015. 

There’s many more stories from these food entrepreneurs to share. Click through here for the main food and drink list landing page.

Edited by Chloe Sorvino and Kristin Stoller

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I cover all things food and drink as a staff writer at Forbes, from billionaires and ag tech startups to CPG entrepreneurs and wine. I head up the 30 Under 30 Food an

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